1912 - 1954

Computer science

The mathematician Alan Turing had interest on the question of whether every mathematical statement could be proven true or false? To address it, he conceived a system (the universal Turing machine) that could be given a mathematical statement and return the corresponding true or false. This system needed to be previously programmed or taught the internal rules. While initially it seemed that the system would be able to solve any statement, Alan Turing deducted that there are statements or tasks that are impossible to be answered by computational systems.

Considered a pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI), Turin is often mentioned in the context of World War II, due to his important role in the decoding of Enigma, the Nazi encryption machine.

Sadly, at the time, being gay in UK was considered ‘indecency’ and illegal. At the age of 40, Turing was convicted for having a homosexual relationship. Having to choose between jail or ‘chemical castration’, Turing chose the second. Two years later, he was found death, recorded as suicide.

This is an example of how the world’s intolerance resulted in a tragic human and social lost.

Written by: Enriqueta Vallejo-Yagüe.