Description: Alan Turing (1912-54) was a British mathematician who made history. His breaking of the German U-boat Enigma cipher in World War II ensured Allied-American control of the Atlantic. But Turing’s vision went far beyond the desperate wartime struggle. Already in the 1930s he had defined the concept of the universal machine, which underpins the computer revolution. In 1945 he was a pioneer of electronic computer design. But Turing’s true goal was the scientific understanding of the mind, brought out in the drama and wit of the famous “Turing test” for machine intelligence and in his prophecy for the twenty-first century.
Drawn in to the cockpit of world events and the forefront of technological innovation, Alan Turing was also an innocent and unpretentious gay man trying to live in a society that criminalized him. In 1952 he revealed his homosexuality and was forced to participate in a humiliating treatment program, and was ever after regarded as a security risk. His suicide in 1954 remains one of the many enigmas in an astonishing life story.