Although the official start of summer this week has had a bit of a rocky – or rather, a rainy start – the sun has been fighting to make its way back to us to bring a (somewhat) sunny weekend. Of course, this is not the only thing to be delayed this week with the expected four-week set back of what was to be ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday, the final step in the roadmap out of lockdown.
One thing that has made been vital during the lockdowns is computers: from staying connected with loved ones, to schooling and working from home, to binge-watching and even getting your groceries delivered, they have ensured our physical and mental wellbeing. The computer would not be around today if it were not for Alan Turing’s pivotal role in the development of the early computers, and the world as we know it today would be entirely different without his code-breaking work during WWII.
This week the new polymer £50 note entered circulation honouring Turing, on what would have been his birthday, with his portrait and artwork celebrating aspects of his legacy. Despite his astounding influence on the course of history, he lived a life of prejudice and was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts which lead to his suicide two years later.
With June marking Pride Month, we are reminded that it is not only a time of celebration for the community, but it is also to commemorate the long and dangerous path paved by members of the LGBTQ+ community. When speaking about an early computing device he had built, Turing said: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be”, a quotation that is featured on the banknote.
Filled with so much hope for the future of his technology, if only he could have seen the progress made in computer science based on his foundational work, even leading to the development of artificial intelligence, and then to now, where we can carry a computer in the palm of our hands. So, as we finish up our work for the weekend, we know who we have to thank for being able to work from home, order a Friday night takeaway, and kick up our feet to stream our favourite show or message a friend to make plans – all using our computers.
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