The Bank of England has announced that legendary British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing will appear on the new £50 note in the UK. Turing was chosen from thousands of names that were submitted by the public for possible inclusion on the British currency.
“Why Turing? Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose works had an enormous impact on how we live today,” the Bank of England’s governor Mark Carney said at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester this morning. “As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, Alan Turing’s contributions were far-ranging and path-breaking.”
“His genius lay in a unique ability to link the philosophical and the abstract with the practical and the concrete. And all around us his legacy continues to build. Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand,” Carney continued.
Turing worked at Bletchley Park and helped crack the Nazi’s Enigma code during World War II. He’s credited with hastening the end of the war through his work and is celebrated today as one of the greatest scientific thinkers of the 20th century.
“The design [of the £50 note] recognises the breadth and variety of his contributions,” Carney said. “The table is taken from his seminal paper on computer numbers, and in the foreground is a succinct representation of a Turing machine, with the ticker tape that records Turing’s birthdate in binary code.”
“In the background are images of the Ace [Automatic Computing Engine] Pilot machine and a section of the technical drawings of the Bombe. The portrait is by Elliott & Fry and the quote is from an interview of his published in the Times in June of 1949.”
The British Bombe was one of the electro-mechanical computers that Turing designed to crack the Nazi code. The quote that appears on the note reads, “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”
Turing was persecuted by the British government for his homosexuality, convicted of “gross indecency” in 1952 and was chemically castrated as his punishment for having a gay relationship. Turing died by suicide in 1954. The UK government apologised for Turing’s treatment in 2009, though he didn’t receive an official pardon until almost a decade later.
Turing was chosen from an enormous pool of historical figures and the Bank of England narrowed down the potential honorees to a shortlist that included Mary Anning, Paul Dirac, Rosalind Franklin, William Herschel and Caroline Herschel, Dorothy Hodgkin, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, Stephen Hawking, James Clerk Maxwell, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Ernest Rutherford, Frederick Sanger, and, of course, Alan Turing.
In contrast with the U.S., other countries in the world often celebrate a diverse array of citizens on their currency. While American money is largely confined to dead white men from the 18th and 19th centuries, countries like the UK cast a much wider net to honour people on their money. British money has featured everyone from scientist Charles Darwin to social reformer Florence Nightingale to author Jane Austen.
The U.S. almost added a black woman to its currency for the first time when the Obama administration announced in 2016 that abolitionist and freedom fighter Harriet Tubman would be added to the $US20 note by 2020. But the Trump regime scuttled that plan, concocting transparent lies about how it wouldn’t be ready in time. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the redesign wouldn’t be ready until 2028, long after President Trump would presumably leave office.
The Trump regime has historically been opposed to both people of colour and women in general, though the reason for nixing Tubman might be because President Trump loves President Andrew Jackson, the man currently pictured on the $US20 bill.
Jackson, of course, is best remembered for the Trail of Tears and other genocidal acts against Native Americans.