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Alan Mathison Turing is today considered the “father” of both theoretical computer science and of artificial intelligence. His 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers” – proving that a universal algorithmic method of determining mathematical truths cannot exist – laid the foundations for his proposal of the “Universal Turing Machine,” capable of computing anything that is computable. He was also the first to address the issue of artificial intelligence in his 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”; among other advances in it Turing offered the “Turing Test,” an effort to devise a standard for artificial intelligence allowing humans to spot the difference between a machine and themselves.
Alan was born in June 1912 AD in London, the son of a civil servant on leave from his duties in India. When he was 13, the boy was enrolled in the independent Sherborne School, where he showed an aptitude for mathematics. In 1931 Turing entered Cambridge. After receiving his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1938, he returned to Cambridge … just in time for the Second World War to break out. During WW2 Turing worked at Bletchley Park, a member of the Government Code and Cypher School, part of the team that developed the electromechanical device to decipher the German Enigma encryption.
Afterward, he held a number of high-ranking positions in the mathematics and computing departments at the University of Manchester. But his lifestyle finally caught up with him, for homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom (at the time). After a scandal, he was arrested in January 1952 and, rather than imprisonment, chose chemical castration through injections. In June 1954 Alan Turing was found dead in his home by his housekeeper. An autopsy found it to be due to cyanide poisoning and the court ruled his death a suicide.