Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Daniel Barnes, Section 8 Group 2 Post 1

Alan Turing

Choosing a single philosopher to write a biography on turned out to be a very difficult task.  Personally, I’m not really impressed with philosophers whose only contributions were abstract ideas that didn’t really have any physical manifestation.  Some of them, such as Pyrrho, had ideas that I felt were more ridiculous than useful.  I was very happy to find a familiar name after flipping through our Little History text, Alan Turing.  I knew of him because of his role in breaking the German Enigma Code during WWII, and was aware that he played a role in the creation of the first computers.  I learned that he was also responsible for his philosophy on artificial intelligence. 
           
            The following blog post will be the first in a series of three focusing on Turing’s upbringing and formal education. The second will detail his role in breaking the Enigma Code during WWII, and the last will dive into his philosophy on artificial intelligence.


            Alan Turing was born on June 23, 1912 in Paddington, London.  He was a successful mathematician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, as well as an endurance athlete who competed in many competitions. From a very young age, Turing showed signs of being a genius.  He had natural mathematical comprehension that had him understanding very complex calculus before even taking the course.  By age 16, he was studying and understanding the works of Albert Einstein.  This did not win him favor among his peers or teachers.  His teachers felt that he needed to place more emphasis on the classics of education such as ancient art and literature.  Turing continued studying Mathematics at Cambridge and was instrumental in the invention of problem solving machines that could solve any problem through the use of complex algorithms.  Turing received his Ph.D. at Princeton University where he was also studied cryptology.  It was the combination of his brilliance in these two subjects that would cause the British government to call on him for a very special task.

1 comment:

  1. "Personally, I’m not really impressed with philosophers whose only contributions were abstract ideas that didn’t really have any physical manifestation." Me neither. But a "physical manifestation" can include simply altering the way we think and behave, it doesn't have to result in a a tangible object or invention. It's very cool, and rare, when it does. Thomas Edison was a kind of philosopher, come to think of it. See his statement in the sidebar below about "progress" and failure, for instance.

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