The Turing Problem

100 years ago this year, the man who first conceived of the computer age was born. His name was Alan Turing. He was also a math genius, a hero of World War II and he is widely considered to be the father of artificial intelligence. But the world wasn't kind to Alan Turing. In 1952, he was arrested and convicted under a British law that prohibited "acts of gross indecency between men, in public or private."

In 1936, a young Alan Turing devised a machine that would ultimately change the world. You're staring at it right now--except Turing's "universal machine" was much, much simpler and totally imaginary. Nonetheless, he proved that with just a few simple ingredients, the machine could compute any mathematical problem that a human could compute.


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