Cyber Defense is the sixth design from the We are Animals I series, a series of pieces portraying great minds wronged by humanity’s thoughts. This piece shows Alan Turing, an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. One of the most profound minds of the twenty century, best known as the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
Turing always showed signs of his above-average intelligence. In addition, he was an avid reader of physics and math books. In one of his articles, published at the age of 24, he talked about computable numbers; it was in this article that he devised a mechanical process that could tell when a logical procedure could be proven or not. This procedure is known today as the Turing Machine, a hypothetical device that would change roles as needed. We learned some of the fundamental logic of algorithms from this machine. We also learned what would become all the modern computing we know today.
Another impressive achievement he is remembered for is the techniques for speeding the breaking of German ciphers during the second world war. Turing played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many critical engagements. Some historians estimated that his work shortened the war in Europe by more than two years and saved over 14 million lives.
Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition.
— Alan Turing - Epigram to Robin Gandy (1954)
Another well-known fact about Turing is when he almost married a teammate, but she chose not to move on when he told her he was gay. Later, in 1952, after having his home broken into by a friend of a man with whom he became involved, he reported the case to the police. He was arrested after admitting his sexual orientation to the authorities and tried under the Labouchere Amendment of 1885, which considered it illegal to be homosexual. Possibly because of his importance to the government, he was offered freedom on the condition that he undergo “treatment” with injections of synthetic estrogen, chemical castration with a female hormone that caused several side effects. Turing ended up accepting.
Two years after this event, Turing was found dead of cyanide ingestion. He was only 41 years old and allegedly poisoned an apple and ate to end his own life after being persecuted for being gay, losing his job, and financial conditions. However, some people, among them Turing’s mother, argue that he probably accidentally poisoned himself while dealing with chemicals in his home laboratory and deny that his death was by suicide.
It was only in 1967 that the laws of the United Kingdom stopped making homosexuality a crime. However, it was only in 2017 that a law lifted the conviction of all those unjustly persecuted men before the end of the homophobic legislation. The “Turing law” was named after the most famous victim of institutionalized homophobia in England.
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