It always takes a single person to start a movement which then guides the rest of the world to try and change everything, from the way we think, the way we use our technology, to practical things like washing our hands. It only takes a single person to light the spark and start a new way of thinking, a new branch in science. In the world of computing, particularly artificial intelligence, one man, named Alan Turing, started a wave which we still to this day ride, especially because it is now more relevant than ever. Here is Alan Turing’s story.
Alan Turing’s Early Days
Born in London on June 23 1912, Alan Turing was a scientist, codebreaker, essentially, a genius. He showed very early signs which were very clear. He was incredibly smart, even as a child. He attended the St. Michael’s school, and then the Sherborne school. He there met a friend named Christopher Morcom, who was his friend from 1926 until 1930, when Morcom died from bovine tuberculosis which he got by drinking infected milk. Turing did not take his death very well, frequently writing to Morcom’s mother on the anniversary of Morcom’s death. It was also believed that Morcom was Turing’s first love. He then enrolled in King’s College, Cambridge and stayed there from 1931 until 1934. He obtained his PhD in mathematics in 1938.
Turing – Codebreaker
During World War II, Alan Turing served as a codebreaker. He helped intercept coded messages and then worked on decrypting them. That proved to be a very efficient way of preemptively acting against an enemy. Countless lives were saved due to his efforts, and that of the Government Code and Cypher School. He worked during the entirety of the war. Despite many other opportunities and ideas, Turing’s main breakthrough, at least the one everyone knows him for, came in 1950.
Turing’s Test – It Stood the Test of Time
Turing’s test was an idea published in a paper entitled Computing Machinery and Intelligence, published in the Mind academic journal, in the year 1950. The idea behind the Turing test is that a machine should be able to behave in a certain way so that humans couldn’t tell whether they were interacting with a machine or a human. He also proposed that machines should, in order to learn properly, start their learning at a child’s level, with that mentality, and then mature to be grown ups, just like humans. The Turing test is used to this day, to check whether a machine is sentient or rather, whether it appears human. A reverse form of this test is used whenever you enter a side and you are welcomed with a CAPTCHA.
This test helped shape the future of AI research, making it an essential way of checking whether an AI was working as intended.
Later Life and Death
When you sal later life, you expect a person to live well into their 80s, but Alan Turing died at the age of 41. In 1952, Turing was charged with gross indecency, which was a crime in the UK, during those times.. He was sentenced to either jail or probation. Probation included taking medicine, or rather, injections which would reduce his libido. The injections rendered him impotent and left him with Gynecomastia, increased breasts. He comitted suicide on June 7, 1854.
We have Alan Turing to thank for many things, AI research being one of them.