Alan Turing and the Mystery of the Bitten Apple
We share the story of a man that not only belonged to his time, but who was also an unquestionable architect of the future we live in today.
It was only last December, almost 60 years after he died, that Queen Elizabeth of England offered Alan Mathison Turing royal forgiveness, this British mathematician, cryptographer and philosopher was condemned to a process of chemical castration due to his open homosexuality.
The international scientific community did not take the English Royal House’s announcement kindly, the absurd punishment which Turing was subjected to meant he never finished his studies on artificial intelligence, one of the many areas which he pioneered in and where his contributions continue to be of the utmost importance.
Alan Turing became particularly important politically during the Second World War, making himself known as one of the first hackers when he collaborated with the British government when he broke the Enigma code that the Nazi army, navy and air force used. Turing handed the Allies the deciphered messages, who thanks to this where able to foresee several attacks, which practically earned them the final win and enables the bellicose conflict to end two or four years sooner, thus saving millions of lives (taking into account that during this war almost 7 million people lost their lives every year).
His research in cryptanalysis allowed him to develop the first digital electronic programmable computer, named Colossus, in 1943. Later, in 1945, he designed the programmed storage computer which he could he could change, with a single command, from one task to the next, a feat that at the time was unimaginable, thus becoming the forefather of informatics.
Turing began to ask himself if it would be possible to make a computer “think” for itself, and developed what we now know as the Turing Test with this purpose: if a human cannot tell the difference between answers given by a human and a computer, the machine can be considered intelligent. The captchas (typographical automatized tests that many websites use to verify that the user is in fact human and not an informatics program) which is used inversely used today, the computer tests us to see whether we are humans or not.
Alan Turing committed suicide in 1954 because of the damages which the chemical castration caused: breasts, overweight and depression. He was found in his laboratory after he’d taken a bit from an apple laced with cyanide. Some believe that Apple’s bitten apple is a homage to the genius of modern informatics party which the genius made possible: a forefather so important that the named the AM Turing awards are considered the Nobel Prize of IT science, which pays a deserved homage to the pioneer of the communications between humans and machines, and the world would undoubtedly be completely different if it wasn’t for his contributions.
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