Bank of England to honor Alan Turing on £50 note
"It is almost impossible to put into words the difference that Alan Turing made to society."
- The late British mathematician and theoretical computer scientist Alan Turing will appear on Britain's 50-pound note starting in 2021.
- Turing is best known for helping to crack the Nazis' Enigma machine, a feat that's estimated to have cut World War II short by two years.
- The British government, which chemically castrated Turing in 1952 for "homosexual acts," officially apologized to Turing in 2009.
The Bank of England has announced that Alan Turing — the late British codebreaker who helped end World War II — will be the new face of the 50-pound note starting in 2021.
"Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today," said Bank of England governor Mark Carney. "As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as a war hero, Alan Turing's contributions were far ranging and path breaking. Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand."
As a mathematician, logician and early computer scientist, Turing helped crack the Nazis' Enigma machine while working at Britain's Bletchley Park as part of the Ultra intelligence outfit. The breakthrough is estimated to have cut the war short by two years. Turing is also often called the Father of Artificial Intelligence, and his Turing machine can be considered an early example of a general-purpose computer.
"His genius lay in a unique ability to link the philosophical and the abstract with the practical and the concrete," Carney said. "All around us his legacy continues to build."
But despite his contributions to society, British authorities, in 1952, prosecuted Turing, who was gay, for homosexual acts under a Victorian-era law commonly known as the Labouchere Amendment. Turing was forced to choose between prison or chemical castration by the injection of female hormones. He chose the latter. Two years later, Turing killed himself at the age of 41 by consuming cyanide.
"It is almost impossible to put into words the difference that Alan Turing made to society, but perhaps the most poignant example is that his work is estimated to have shortened the war by four years and saved up to 21 million lives," John Leech, a former Liberal Democrat MP for Manchester Withington, told The Guardian. "And yet the way he was treated afterwards remains a national embarrassment and an example of society at its absolute worst."
In 2009, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a national apology to Turing.
"Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted, as he was convicted, under homophobic laws, were treated terribly," Brown said. "Over the years, millions more lived in fear in conviction. I am proud that those days are gone and that in the past 12 years this Government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan's status as one of Britain's most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality, and long overdue."
In 2014, Queen Elizabeth II officially pardoned Alan Turing, marking the nation's fourth royal pardon granted since World War II.
Turing wasn't the only British scientist considered for the 50-pound note. Among the shortlist of candidates, as The Guardian reports, were Mary Anning, Paul Dirac, Rosalind Franklin, William Herschel and Caroline Herschel, Dorothy Hodgkin, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, Stephen Hawking, James Clerk Maxwell, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Ernest Rutherford, and Frederick Sanger.
Campaigners and some British lawmakers had signed a 150,000-strong petition to honor a scientist of color on the 50-pound note, warning that selecting a white scientist risks sending a "damaging message that ethnic minorities are invisible." However, Carney said the Bank intended to celebrate "all aspects of diversity."
"We want to represent as best as possible all aspects of diversity within the country, from race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, disability and beyond," Carney told The Guardian. "What we have today is a celebration of one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists in the United Kingdom and not just this country's history but world history."
In the U.K., cashless transactions are becoming increasingly common, though Carney noted that paper notes will still be around "for a very long period of time." It's also worth noting that, while Turing might've appreciated being honored on fiat currency, his contributions undoubtedly helped pave the way for cryptocurrency.
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.