Article: Alan Turing

His seminal paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” was published in 1950 and addressed the topic of artificial intelligence. Further, it introduced the concept of the Turing Test. Afterward, in 1951, Turing turned back on computation and published an mathematical-biological paper which still has relevance today.

His life took a sudden turn when in 1952 he started a relationship with Arnold Murray. A friend of Murray broke into Turing’s apartment and when reporting the burglary to the police he admitted his sexual relationship to Murray in the course of the investigation. Homosexuality was by then still illegal in England and he was convicted for “gross indeceny”. He plead guilty during the trial and was offered either imprisonment or probation alongside with hormonal therapy, for which he settled. The injections of synthetic oestrogen where supposed to stop his libido but also caused impotence and the forming of breast tissue. He further lost his security clearance and was not allowed to travel to the US anymore.

The cause of his death on the 8th of June 1954, even though officially declared as suicide, still raises discussions and will probably never be answered with certainty. What is known is that he was found by his housekeeper dead in his bed with a half eaten apple next to him. He died of cyanide poisoning, but it cannot be said for sure that the apple was intoxicated, since it was never tested. Even though suicide seems to be a logical explanation, other hypotheses claim murder or an accident through his experiments.

In 1927 Mr. Nowell Smith, headmaster of Sherborne school wrote to Sara Turing “We shall follow your boys career with very great interest. He will do something great in science I am convinced.” By then nobody could now how right Smith would be one day. In retrospect, speaking about ‘something great in science’ seems like an understatement when looking at what Alan Turing accomplished in his short life.

The short version can be found in the magazine on page 6