Alan Turing, the father of artificial intelligence and computer science was revealed as the face of Britain’s new 50-pound banknote. Turing was also famous as a World War II codebreaker whose work hastened the war’s end and as a result saved the lives of thousands of people. However, his achievements were overlooked as he was convicted of homosexual activity which was a criminal offense in Britain.
Mark Carney, governor of Bank of England said that Turing was a war hero as well as the father of artificial intelligence on whose shoulders many now stand. The announcement was made at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester that also featured the 12 finalists who were also considered as the face of the note including famed physicist Stephen Hawking.
During World War II, Turing worked at the Bletchley Park, where he helped in developing a machine to crack the Enigma code used by Germany. His famous “Turing Test” is used even now as a benchmark for examining if a machine is thinking or not. After the end of the war, Turing was charged with acts of indecency and was sentenced to a period of chemical castration. He was found dead at the age of 41 years after he apparently poisoned himself with cyanide.
Prime Minister of Britain Theresa May tweeted that Turing’s pioneering work played a major role in ending World War II. Hence it is very suitable to honor the legacy and contribution of LGBT people on the new 50-pound note.
Dermot Turing, Alan Turing’s nephew said that the entire family was very delighted with this announcement. He also praised the Bank of England for recognizing his uncle’s work in the field of computer science. He said that this decision reminded the nation what he was best at during his lifetime and how he would have wished to be remembered.
An oscar-winning biopic “The Imitation Game” which starred Benedict Cumberbatch brought attention to the role played by the math genius and his team in defeating Adolf Hitler. Cumberbatch told the BBC that he could not think of a more deserving candidate. He added that Turing was a great human being with a brilliant mind who suffered a lot in his intolerant times. Kim Sanders, spokeswoman for Stonewall, a gay rights charity said that it is very important to recognize the contribution made by LGBT figures throughout history thus it is quite meaningful to have Alan Turing as the new face of the 50-pound banknote.
The new note is expected to begin circulation at the end of 2021. It will include the image of Turing, ticker tape of his birth date in binary code and a table, formula from 1936 that introduced the concept of how computers operated.