This research symposium relfected on four key themes in Turing’s work, representing the diversity of Turing’s legacy, in Informatics and beyond. The four themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computability and Algorithms, Computer Hardware and modelling the brain, and Morphogenesis. This last topic makes links to colleagues in biological sciences and chemistry, as Turing explored the chemical basis of morphogenesis (how the zebra got its stripes) and predicted oscillating chemical reactions (the biochemical clock). For each theme, a distinguished speaker gave a retrospective view of Turing’s legacy, complemented by a presentation on a related on-going piece of work from a rising research star.
Speaker: Professor Jim Al Khalili, Professor of Physics, University of Surrey.
Read the summary report of Professor Khalili's lecture on Alan Turing: Legacy of a Code Breaker
From cryptanalysis and the cracking of the German Enigma Code during the Second World War to his work on artificial intelligence, Alan Turing was without doubt one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century. An extraordinarily gifted mathematician, he is rightly regarded as the father of computer science, having set in place the formal rules that govern the way every computer code ever written actually works.
This lecture was a celebration of one man’s enigmatic yet ultimately tragic life – a whirlwind tour of his genius, from whether computers can have consciousness to how a leopard gets its spots.
Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch Kt DD FBA FRHistS FSA, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford, Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford, and prize-winning author, has written extensively on the 16th Century and beyond it. His History of Christianity: the first three thousand years (Penguin Press) and the BBC TV series based on it, first appeared in 2009. His series ‘The English: How God Made Them’ is due for showing on BBC2 shortly.
This event provided an opportunity to meet with Professor MacCulloch, the distinguished historian of Christianity and the University of Edinburgh Gifford Lecturer for 2011-2012, and to discuss with him in a relaxed manner some of the themes of his Gifford Lecture Series, e.g. 'Holmes's Dog: Silence in the History of the Church' (which took place at the University of Edinburgh between 23 April and 3 May 2012). There was also an opportunity to engage more widely with his many writings and his recent television documentary on the history of Christianity.