John Horton Conway: Navigating The Future Envisioned by Alan Turing

John Horton – Exploring the Mathematical Legacy and Vision of Conway in Turing’s Technological World” More than 10 years have been passed from the date that the British government offered an apology to mathematics professor Alan Turing. 

“On behalf of . . . All those who live a life of freedom because of Alan’s efforts,” the then-Prime of the Cabinet Gordon Brown said, in an official statementthat read “we’re sorry for your loss, you deserved much more.”

The expression of sorrowful contrition was appropriate given the brutally unkind treatment of Turing who played a pivotal part in breaking the German Enigma cipher, which enabled Allied intelligence to determine the exact location of U-boats and saving hundreds of thousands of people. 

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In his unapologetic defense of homosexuality, Turing was guilty of a reckless admission that he had having an affair with a man during the course of resolving a burglary that took place at his house in 1952.

He was subsequently arrested for the “act that was grossly indecent” (the same crime that been the basis of a jail conviction to Oscar Wilde in 1895). 

Turing was later given the option to either serve a prison sentence or undergo a treatment to lower his testosterone level that caused him to crave males (so it was thought in the moment). Turing chose the latter and 2 years later he shattered his life when he took one bite of an apple that was laced with Cyanide.

His code-breaking efforts during the war were only one example of what led to Turing an influential figure in the 20th century. In 1936, at the time he was only 23 years old,

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Turing published an article titled “On Computed Numbers” where he sought to solve the problem that was “decidability” for formal models such as mathematics. 

In the paper the paper, he sketched out a concept for a machine that was that was somewhere between a stylus for a gramophone and a typewriter carriage which moved on the tape, which was which was cut into squares. 

At any moment the machine could be within a limited state that could instruct it to move left or right or erase, print or stop. It wasn’t a piece of working hardware, but rather an experiment designed to uncover the nature of computation. 

The truly innovative idea behind Turing’s imagined machine was that it wasn’t specifically designed to serve a particular purpose but was able to be given instructions (“programmed”) which allowed it to mimic any machine. 

The computers that are universal today are being referred to as Turing machines and serve as the base of all phones, laptops and the Internet.

However, Turing’s personality was the opposite of the stepwise uniform process he portrayed within his thinking experiment. 

A dreamy, nonconformist in the spirit of hyperrational eccentrics like Lewis Carroll and Bertrand Russell, Turing operated best on the absurdity of puzzles, games hidden codes, and abstract formal systems such as mathematics. A true scientist and with no qualms at the slightest hint of theological.

Turing nonetheless was an avid speculator which led to realms that resembled science fiction. Since his youth, he’d been fascinated by the mechanics of his craft (at 11 he sketched up plans for an ingenious typewriter of the design of his) and also invented terms (“quockling” refers to the sounds that seagulls make)

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John Horton Conway: Navigating The Future Envisioned by Alan Turing, Math, News

He also was a fan of Edward Tenney Brewster’s ” Natural Wonders Every Child Must Know,” which implied that humans were merely highly advanced machines. 

In later years, he started exploring the notion that thinking could be automated and, working with his Cambridge colleague David Champernowne, he developed Turochamp as one of the first computer-based chess games.

A mind with the same tenacity as Turing’s was becoming incredibly beneficial for Allied Counterintelligence in the Second World War. When the German Enigma machine became the most powerful ciphering instrument in the world–it was believed to be impregnable–military cryptography accordingly became more mathematically complex. 

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With the aid of notes from Polish cryptoanalysts, as well as some rescued codes found in sunken U-boats Turing was in charge of the development of a machine able to discover loopholes in Enigma’s polyalphabetic rotary structure The code-breaking group began breaking Nazi radio communications without the Germans not even. 

While Turing was a staunch opponent of the war while he was an undergraduate at Cambridge however, he may have gotten involved in this project in the interest of solving a complex puzzle as he did for any sense of duty to the country. 

Turing was also a firm advocate of a fair working environment. Turing sent Winston Churchill a letter complaining about the lack of plumbing at Bletchley Park which was the mansion in the northwest of London where the codebreakers opened a the shop.

Following the conflict, Turing was writing more in speculative terms about machines and minds.


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