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Turing's Machines

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Alan Turing's mental leaps about machines and computers were some of the most innovative ideas of the 20th century. But the world wasn't kind to him. Turing was a math genius, a hero of World War II, and is widely considered to be the father of artificial intelligence. But in 1952, he was arrested and convicted under a British law that prohibited "acts of gross indecency between men, in public or private." Leading Robert to wonder how Turing's personal life shaped his understanding of mechanical minds and human emotions.

Read more:

Janna Levin, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines

David Leavitt, The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer

James Gleick, The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood


James Gleick, David Leavitt and Janna Levin

Comments [6]

Andy Hubbard from Tallahassee, FL

I am not sure about the others, but one of the musical pieces during the Turing section is 'Metamorphosis One' by Philip Glass. What's funny is that it's played while they are talking about machines becoming intelligent (ala, the Turing Test) and this song is featured in the 2004 Battlestar Galactica series (that is, Cylons!)

May. 29 2014 02:39 PM
Nathan from Portland, OR

The Antasoff-Berry computer was not a generally programmable machine. In other words, not Turing complete. And while Poland did contribute greatly to the code breaking efforts, Turing did come up with the critical idea that the working of the machine could be reversed engineered. While it did have some critical innovations, it is the concept of the Turing Machine that is the foundation for modern computing and computer science. Alan Turing is rightfully the father of computer science and modern computing.

Jan. 08 2014 04:04 PM
JohnR from Canada

Turing Pardoned:

Dec. 24 2013 10:34 AM from Iowa city iowa

The first computer was made by iowa State by John Vincent Atanasoff.

Poland did a lot of the work not Alan Turing.

Nov. 03 2013 06:11 PM
Tim Grizzard

There were statements made toward the end of this broadcast where someone expressed the opinion that human beings are nothing more than machines. This view cheapens human life. It is the attitude that grew in German in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Without a healthy fear of God and without His rules to guide us, "every man did what was right in his own eyes", Judges 21:25.

Nov. 03 2013 04:24 PM
JP from San Francisco

Hi folks,

Great work, indeed, as always - thank you.
The music played during the Turing piece was a very interesting mix - I wanted to ask if the pieces' titles/composers are available to be shared?


Nov. 02 2013 06:10 PM

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