[Humanist] 26.500 update on Turing Year activities

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Nov 19 07:30:01 CET 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 500.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sun, 18 Nov 2012 06:22:46 +0000 (GMT)
        From: S Barry Cooper <pmt6sbc at maths.leeds.ac.uk>
        Subject: Update, 18 November, 2012

As the petition for a pardon for Alan Turing completes its 12 months at
the end of the coming week, we start to look back on an amazing year of
centenary celebrations. We expected the year would be something special,
but what we have seen has been beyond anything we might have dreamt of. Of
course, it is not just Turing himself we remember in 2012. The Turing
legacy means so many things to so many different people, things which
relate to the future, and to who we are and how we face an incomputable
world with the sort of curiosity, honesty and courage that Alan himself
did. It is the making sense and finding meaning which was Turing's
adventure, and which inspires so many to look beyond the surface of daily
life. We too look for personal ways through the complexities, the rewards,
and the inevitable setbacks. While thinking outside the box ...

Meanwhile, still quite a lot of events before the year's end.

1) From Andrew Mohan, Chairman of Manchester BCS:

"I would be grateful if you could add details of our forthcoming
Turing Lecture to the ATY website, details are
https://nwengineersxmas2012.eventbrite.com/ "

The speaker is the remarkable Prof. Bernard Richards, who worked with
Turing on morphogenesis as a young MSc student in the early 1950s, and
though going on to have his own distinguished career, never forgot his
time with Turing. The BCS page points to a superb interview with Bernard
from the June 19 Manchester Evening News, quoting him "The day he died
felt like driving through a tunnel and the lights being switched off":

It's Tuesday, December 4, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Manchester
BCS Branch, and is free, but you have to register.

2) You have to be quick to get in on the discussions of the "Big Questions
Online" from the John Templeton Foundation - you can find Jack Copeland's
second provocative contribution asking "Is Alan Turing Both Inventor of
the Basic Ideas of the Modern Computer and a Pioneer of Artificial
Intelligence?" at:

The article went online last Tuesday, and has just a couple more days to
run (until November 19) before the discussion gets cut off. All credit to
Ansley Roan and the JTF for hosting these interesting contributions from
Jack, and the resulting discussions, though some of us would be glad of a
little longer to read and contribute.

3) A reminder that Leeds Cafe Scientifique on Tuesday 20th November 2012,
at 8pm, at "Seven", Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD has
Barry Cooper introducing the discussion on "Alan Turing - The Building of
a Brain".  See:

4) We're told his talk might have some similarity to the short
contribution he made to the LGBT History Month 2013 pre-launch at
Bletchley Park on Thursday! This was a wonderful event, well-attended,
which promises further Alan Turing interest in February 2013. The
organisers are hoping for people from the science, mathematics and
technology community to get involved in the preparations for February -
nice report at:
And from Demotix "Alan Turing nephew speaks at LGBT History Month
pre-launch event":

Thanks to Tony Fenwick, Sue Sanders and many others - including a sparky
bunch of young LGBT History Month activists - for a great day. And should
mention the incredible Pink Punters support team.

5) A very interesting issue of Interdisciplinary Science Reviews just
appeared, focussing on Warren McCulloch and his circle (of McCulloch and
Pitts fame):

Journal editor Willard McCarty wrote:
"Since Turing inspired McCulloch's and Pitts' work, perhaps there would be
some place to mention this issue in the publicity you are sending out
regarding the Turing celebrations?"

Any doubts arising from Turing's famous 1949 description of McCulloch as
"a charlatan" disappear when one reads the paper by Philip Husbands and
Owen Holland (Sussex) on "Warren McCulloch and the British

- it's full of Turing interest, and puts the charlatan comment in context.
All in all, a fascinating collection, and part of the 'Turing in context'
theme of 2012.

6) Concerning the petition for a Turing pardon, Andrew Pakes in Pink News
writes "Time is right to pardon Alan Turing":
He comments:
"Earlier this month, Labour frontbencher Sadiq Khan MP became the latest
senior politician to back calls for a pardon for Alan Turing. The campaign
has momentum, and hopefully the government will listen and re-examine its
decision to turn down a pardon."

This is in the context of broad multi-party support for this overdue
decision, of course.

7) From Jack Copeland, a report on the Alan Turing event in Finland last
Monday, arranged by the British Embassy:
- he writes (apologies to Jack for quoting his letter, but he writes with
the same appealing sincerity as he speaks with in public):

"I'm just back from the Turing bash at the British Embassy in
Helsinki. Daniella organized it. It was terrific, and the Embassy did
Turing proud, with an audience of around 80 Finnish captains of
industry and other VIPs. It would be good if some other British
embassies would pick up the same model. Dani gave one of the talks,
by the way, a retrospect of the ATY to date. She was brilliant - I
hadn't heard her speak before and she turns out to be a natural born
performer, stole the show in fact. She's a great ambassador for
Turing and it would be good to see her getting more speaking gigs."

8) Of course, the British Embassy in Sao Paulo has also been busy. There
is an impressive exhibition - ALAN TURING - LEGACY FOR COMPUTING AND
HUMANITY, at the Museum of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
(UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil:

This is promoted by the Institute of Informatics/UFRGS, British Consulate
General in Sao Paulo and the British Consulate in Porto Alegre.

9) The Daily Mail had more Bletchley Park/Alan Turing related news on
Wednesday "Rare German World War Two Enigma machine which scrambled the
code broken by Bletchley Park experts is sold for 85,000":

- can't grumble about the machine going to a US buyer, given how generous
the US has been to the Turing legacy during 2012. Special mention of the
ACM, Princeton University, Google and the JTF. Many others might be added
(the Boston University event last week, with Marvin Minsky, Martin Davis
and other great speakers being fresh in the minds of those lucky enough to
have been there).

10) From Tito Orlandi in Rome, news of an event in Rome next week - here's
his announcement in full:

Celebrating the "Alan Turing Year" (2012, centenary of his birth)
the Centro Linceo Interdisciplinare Beniamino Segre, a special
branch of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (www.lincei.it;
Palazzo Corsini, via della Lungara 10, Roma), holds a Conference
"Per il centenario di Alan Turing, fondatore dell'informatica"
Organizing committee: Giorgio Ausiello, Carlo Cellucci, Paolo
Galluzzi, Tito Orlandi. Date: November 22nd, 9.30 until 18.00.

The focus of the conference will concern all scientific activities
in which Alan Turing was engaged, but especially his intuition and
theorization of computability, and consequently the Turing Machine.
It is also an occasion to reflect on the evolution of computer
science from the years Thirties up to our days, on its impact
on information society, and on its appreciation by those who utilize
its applications. Renowned specialists will also discuss Turing's
role in other fields of mathematics, in artificial intelligence,
and in cryptography.

The speakers are (in the order of presentation): Tito Orlandi (director
of the Centro Linceo), Gabriele Lolli, Angelo R. Meo, Giorgio Ausiello,
Carlo Cellucci, Daniele Mundici, Luigia Carlucci Aiello, Pino Persiano,
Dino Buzzetti, Gino Roncaglia.

11) Should mention the new Audioboo Bletchley Park Podcast Extra E10:

It includes more from the Mythbusters event held at Bletchley
"Organised by bestselling author Michael Smith (Station X: The
Codebreakers of Bletchley Park, Britain's Spies - the Real James Bonds)
who was joined by the official GCHQ historian and, in a rare public
appearance, veteran Bletchley Park Code Breaker & former Director of GCHQ,
Sir Arthur Bonsall."

12) From Ian Watson, news of another special screening of CODEBREAKER - as
he says "this time the first in New Zealand. This will round off our
Turing Year celebrations in an excellent way". Details:

Thursday 6 December 2012 6.00pm
Location: University of Auckland
Owen G Glenn Building B4 (260-073)
Refreshments 5.30pm before the movie, location tbc
FREE Entry

Not yet added to the December list of ATY events:
- but will be soon.

There is an interesting blog by the film producer Patrick Sammon on "Why
I Made a Film About Alan Turing, the Gay 'Father of Computer Science'" at:

13) Also - CODEBREAKER is being shown at ENIGMA - Microwave International
New Media Arts Festival, in Hong Kong:

Just finishing today is the David Link 'Love Letters' exhibit:

14) Another time-sensitive item - the deadline for applications for GCHQ
apprenticeships is fast approaching, November 30th:

If you know anyone these would appeal to - and working at GCHQ in
Cheltenham would be a memorable experience - they should go to:

15) From Erinma Ochu, who has done such a fantastic job for the Turing's
Sunflowers experiment, another letter full of interest - again, as the
year is ending, here it is in almost full detail:

"We're delighted to have the preliminary results of the Turing's
Sunflowers experiment.

They can be viewed at: www.turingsunflowers.com/results
and specifically: http://www.turingsunflowers.com/spiralscount

Here's the press release:

In addition to confirming Fibonacci numbers in the majority of sunflowers,
we found some very interesting sunflowers in which it was difficult to
count the number of spirals in one direction and in others we found
sunflowers which didn't have Fibonacci-type structure.

Jonathan [Swinton] and the Turing's Sunflower team at MOSI would like to
thank everyone that took part in the experiment and those who took an
interest and got the message out more widely."

Yes, it really was a highlight of the year, and brought Alan Turing into
hundreds of schools.

16) Another fun Turing project was the selling of framed Lego portraits of
Alan Turing:

Not cheap, but they do come framed. Available to buy exclusively from The
Little Artists website.

17) While, we're told, the Alan Turing Monopoly sets are almost sold out:

18) From Sol Feferman a couple of interesting items (the first me meant to
mention last time) -

"A recent excellent novel that features the Turing Test in an
interesting way is 'A Working Theory of Love', by Scott Hutchins. You
can find it on Amazon at

along with a dozen or so good reviews. I would suggest your looking at
these with the idea of possibly mentioning the book on one of your Turing
Year bulletins."

And more recently:

"Though a few years old, this great proof in Seuss-style verse of the
unsolvability of the halting problem by Geoffrey Pullum just came
across my desktop. Geoff is a well known linguist, formerly of UC
Santa Cruz and now at the University of Edinburgh.

http://m-phi.blogspot.nl/2012/03/geoff-pullum-seusses-out-halting.html "

Actually, Geoff did a reading of his excellent (correct) poetic proof at
the Turing Centenary Conference in Cambridge. We look forward to getting
him reading it on YouTube one day.

19) Btw, having read the new book "Time Traveller Danny and the
Codebreaker" by Paul Morris, we can definitely recommend it. There is a
particularly nice treatment of aspergers syndrome, one of the less
spotlighted aspects of the Turing year - you can buy it at Amazon etc now.
>From Paul we heard:

"A brief and inadequate note to thank you for the kind mention in the
ATY/TCAC November update, which was copied to me by Rachel at
Sherborne School.

And another to thank you for alerting Alan Edwards re my launch event
on Saturday just gone. Everyone seemed to find it enjoyable, judging
from comments received, but for my part it was very memorable for
this gentleman to step up and quietly introduce himself as a friend
of AT. That really added something for me and my guests, and he was
a fascinating chap to talk to."

Yes, Alan Edwards, who has featured in this update on occasion, is quite
famous now. He says of the booklaunch:
"Just thought that I would let you know that I went to the book launch
of Paul Morris's book "Time Traveller Danny and the Codebreaker" in
Poynton on Saturday. I had a great time. Most enjoyable. It
also included a short extract from a stage show devised by a local
youth theatre which is based on the book. (I shall go to see the
show in full when they eventually put it on later this year)."

And, it seems, Paul had seen a copy of Outnorthwest magazine published by
LGF in Manchester (the June/July issue) which had a double page spread
about what was happenning in Manchester during the actual centenary month
and alsofeatured an interview with Alan Edwards!

20) A final focus on some events for the rest of November and the
beginning of December, not yet mentioned:

* November 20-25, 2012: TURING - a staged case history, a multi-media
performance at the Studio Theatre, Piccolo Theatre of Milan, Milan, Italy.
2012 is the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, a brilliant
mathematician, logician and British cryptanalyst, considered one of the
fathers of computer science. His thinking, development and the logic
underlying it, its principal research, take form in a multimedia show. The
actor, an ensemble of computer, and video, are the characters on stage.
With live elctronics from Massimo Marchi. Great webpage:

* November 22, 2012: Per Il Centenario Di Alan Turing, Fondatore
Dell'Informatica, organised by Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei - Centro
Linceo Interdisciplinare "Beniamino Segre". 9:30-18:00, at Palazzo
Corsini, via della Lungara 10. Speakers include: Gabriele Lolli, Angelo R.
Meo, Giorgio Ausiello, Carlo Cellucci, Daniele Mundici, Luigia Carlucci
Aiello, Pino Persiano, Dino Buzzetti, Gino Roncaglia. Details:

* November 23, 2012: Launch of Take Tea with Turing, an anthology of
creative work inspired by the life and legacy of Alan Turing, edited by
Viccy Adams, Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence at the School of
Informatics, University of Edinburgh. 7pm at Inspace with an evening of
readings from contributors. See:

* November 28, 2012: Showing of CODEBREAKER in Hamburg, 18:15-20:00
Grosses Kino des Abaton (in one of the main cinemas of the University
quarter). Part of the Deutsches Alan Turing-Jahr. Details:

* November 28, 2012: Premiere performance of TO KILL A MACHINE by Catrin
Fflur Huws, 7:45pm at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. A new play "about the
wartime code-breaker Alan Turing, whose pioneering work considered whether
a machine could think. At the heart of the play is a powerful love story
which questions the meaning of humanity, and the importance of freedom."

Continues at Sherman Cymru, 6pm on November 29:
Also, December 5 at Swansea University.

* December 1, 2012: Computer History Tour of Melbourne, dedicated to Alan
Turing. One of a unique series - Melbourne has several remarkable links to
the earliest days of computers, and these tours seem to be the first of
their kind in the world. Tour starting at the Caulfield campus of Monash
University at 8:45am and finishing at about 5pm. See:

* December 4, 2012: NW Engineers' Christmas Lecture: The Four Facets of
Alan Turing and our work on Morphogenesis. Speaker Prof. Bernard Richards.
At BCS Manchester Branch, from 6:00-8:00pm, at Manchester Metropolitan
University, John Dalton Building, Oxford Road (All Saints Campus) M15 6BH
Manchester. See:

* December 4, 2012: Lecture "Alan Turing and the Computing Revolution: Ten
Big Ideas that Changed the World" by Barry Cooper:

Part of the special lecture series in the "Alan Turing - Legacy for
Computing and Humanity" programme of events:

* December 4-7, 2012: World Intelligence Congress in Macau, China. As a
special event for the Alan Turing Year, the conference has Turing Keynote
Speaker Edward Feigenbaum (1994 Turing Award winner), from Stanford
University. The congress includes five intelligent informatics related
conferences - IEEE/WIC/ACM Web Intelligence 2012 (WI'12), IEEE/WIC/ACM
Intelligent Agent Technology 2012 (IAT'12), Active Media Technology 2012
(AMT'12), Brain Informatics 2012 (BI'12) and Methodologies for Intelligent
Systems 2012 (ISMIS'12). See:

* December 5, 2012: Public Engagment Afternoon in Swansea, to celebrate
Alan Turing's Centenary - includes:
Distinguished Lecture by Martin Campbell-Kelly on Alan Turing's Other
Universal Machine: The ACE, and
A new play by by Catrin Fflur Huws: To Kill A Machine, performed by
Scriptography Productions.

* December 7-8, 2012: Alan Turing Centenary Year Celebrations - Workshop
on Art of Computing, at PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, India.
Accommodation requests close November 25. Another impressive webpage:

* December 8-11, 2012: Fifth Conference on Artificial General Intelligence
(AGI-12), in Oxford, UK. Appropriately for this Alan Turing centenary
year, this is the first AGI conference to be held in the UK. See:

* December 10, 2012: Turing Year Enriques Lecture in Milan, with speaker
Barry Cooper on Alan Turing and the Computational Content of Causality.
16:30pm at the Dipartimento di Matematica, v. Saldini, 50, aula Chisini,
Universit degli studi di Milano. See:

* December 18-20, 2012: Alan M. Turing - Simplification in Intelligent
Computing Theory and Algorithms, a 3-Day Faculty Development Program at
the Foundation for Advancement of Education and Research (FAER), in
Bangalore. Will include lectures by eminent speakers on Turing,
Cryptography, Computing, Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence etc, as well
as a Panel Discussion. Part of the Alan Turing Year 2012 - India
Celebrations. See:

All for now - please send items for what may be our final update of the
Alan Turing Year ...

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