The True Story of Alan Turing: A Genius Ahead of His Time

Despite his great achievements that changed the world forever, he is not someone you can hear about in the science class. Although his true value and contributions are recognized more and more by public today, Alan Turing was a genius man that was much better than the world he lived in and treated in a terrible way he did not deserved, just like Nikola Tesla, another genius who also lived ahead of his time.

He was born on June 2, 1912 in London. Years later, this little boy named Alan Mathison Turing would change the course of history

Even at very early ages, his teachers notice little Alan’s outstanding intelligence and natural talent in mathematics

It becomes a routine for him to be alienated at school, starting from early ages

The only supportive friend he has was a young man called Christopher Marcom. (on the left) Later, this affection would make Alan realize his homosexuality

After losing his friend to tuberculosis just a few week before the graduation, Alan loses his faith in life.

Despite this emotional breakdown, he keeps studying and developing himself to be a math genius

After all the excellent grades and remarkable work throughout his academic life, he proposes the concept of “Turing Machine”, which is theoretically capable of performing all the tasks accomplishable by today’s computers.

After studying mathematics and cryptology, he returns from U.S to mid-war Britain. As soon as he arrives, he starts working for the Government Code and Cypher School, Britain's codebreaking center.

During the war, Nazis communicate via encrypted messages, which they create by using a machine called Enigma.

For some time Turing leads Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis.

On this mission, he helps the design of the “bombe” which is an electromechanical device used by British cryptologists to crack German Enigma machine.

Soon, bombe devices succeed in deciphering encrypted German messages and provides great advantage against Nazis, which changed the fate of the war.

Historians estimate that if Enigma had not been broken, the war could have lasted for at least another 2 years, meaning a further over 14 million lives might have been lost.

Turing, who was also a talented occasional long-distance runner, tried out for the 1948 British Olympic team, but hampered by an injury. His tryout time for the marathon was only 11 minutes slower than silver medalist’s Olympic race time of 2 hours 35 minutes.

In the article “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” addressing the question of artificial intelligence, Turing proposes an experiment to define standards for a machine to be called “intelligent”

On that experiment also known as Turing test, a human evaluator would judge natural language conversations between a human and a machine that is designed to generate human-like responses.

The idea was that a computer could be said to "think" if a human interrogator could not tell it apart, through conversation, from a human being

In 2014, a computer program called Eugene Goostman which simulates a 13-year-old boy, passed the Turing test first time. Eugene convinced 33% of the judges during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations.

Today, CAPTCHA technology, based on Turing test principles (technically it’s a reverse Turing test) is used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human.

CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) is used to block spamming machines from posting wherever they want. In order to keep out spammers

Working on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Turing finishes writing a chess program in 1950

Since a computer who could run this algorithm did not exist then, he played a game in which he simulated a computer processor and executed the algorithms by himself, taking about half an hour per move. This became the first computer chess game played in history.

Shortly after the catastrophic war in Europe, Turing acknowledges his sexual relationship with another man

Homosexual acts were criminal offences in the United Kingdom at that time, over 49.000 homosexual men were charged with gross indecency between the years 1885 and 1967.

Turing gets convicted for being homosexual according to the law punishing “indecency” and given a choice between imprisonment and probation.

He agrees to undergo hormonal treatment designed to reduce libido via injections of synthetic estrogen.

The treatment renders Turing impotent and causes him to grow breasts, but most importantly interrupts his brain activity.

His outstanding, innovative skills starts disappearing.

In addition to all these negative changes in his body and mind, Turing's conviction led to the removal of his security clearance and barred him from continuing with his cryptographic consultancy for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). He is considered as a security risk, since at the time, there was acute public anxiety about homosexual entrapment of spies by Soviet agents.

After acknowledging his sexual orientation, everybody turns their back on Turing who saved millions of lives in WWII.

And this genius man commits suicide at the age of only 42

His studies inspired the researches to develop what is known as “Turing machines”, which evolved to today’s computers

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II signed a pardon for Turing's conviction an honored his fantastic achievements. (It was too late already)

His wartime work, which was rewarded the Order of the British Empire by King George VI, was kept secret for over 50 years

Since his true value became known by public, he has been honored in various ways, which includes celebrations in his name, a memorial statue in Manchester and official apology of the government

If you carefully look, you can see Turing is shown holding an apple; which is a reference to his suicide

You might have missed that the robot in one of the previous pictures also holds an apple in its hand.

They found his dead body lying beside a half-eaten apple, in which he thought to have injected cyanide.

Some biographers claim Turing’s suicide was a re-enactment of a scene from his favorite fairy tale: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; He manufactured his own poisonous apple instead, to escape the world excluding him for being different.

The logo of Apple Inc. is often referred to as a tribute to Alan Turing, with the bite mark a reference to his death. The original logo’s rainbow colors (international symbol for the gay-right movements) supports this opinion

Although both the designer of the logo and the company deny that there is any tribute to Turing in the design, when he is asked whether it was intentional, Steve Jobs' response was, "God, we wish it were”

British-made movie Enigma (2001), depicts the story of the cryptanalysis of the Enigma by British Secret Intelligence Service.

Throughout the movie, there is no any scene Alan Turing -the real code-breaker is even mentioned.

In the historical drama film The Imitation Game (2014), true story of Alan Turing is depicted accurately.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.

This extraordinary man who died very early due to the social intolerance, is now earning the respect and recognition he always deserved - although it’s late.

Please remember why we owe it all to Alan Turing, every time you use your computer or phone.

If you can read this article now on your screen, thanks to the application of the ideas he developed/ inspired first before anyone.

Thank you Alan Turing...

The conceptual ideas he introduced years ago are still valid, inspiring and applicable on various areas such as Mathematics, AI, Nano-technology, molecular biology.

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