In 1936 the British mathematician Alan Turing first mapped out
He discovered the boundaries of everything that can be computed,
and worked out a plan for a *universal machine*. After sixty years
we can begin to see the full power of his discovery. The universal
machine, which we now call the *computer*, is now taking over the
role of every other kind of machine. Computer codes, which he first
wrote in 1936, now form the infrastructure to every kind of human
Turing arrived at his ideas by analysing individual mental space.
Today we can see the computer as the means for communicating and
enhancing individuality, so the wheel has come full circle. But
the road from Turing's first ideas to present-day technology was
not an easy one. First it had to pass through the secret military
machines of the Second World War. Alan Turing was the world's most
successful anti-fascist, through his
reading of the U-boat Enigma ciphers. But he himself, as a gay man
open and unashamed before his time, fell victim to the cold war
in 1954. The computer also had to develop through military state
and big business needs, and the Internet also began its development
as a military system. But by 1980 everything had started to change.
Miniaturised, ever faster, cheaper, the computer has became accessible,
with storage for texts, images, sound, growing exponentially. All
forms of communication are transformed and allow new possibilities
for the human mind and its senses.
Andrew Hodges will draw the links in Alan Turing's story that bring
him alive in 2001. His life involved forging unexpected connections
between mathematics, science, war, individual creativity, and sexuality.
These connections were resisted by social rules and barriers in
his own time, and are more relevant now than ever. Turing's fundamental
definition of computability, combined with quantum mechanics, also
possibilities for the science of the twenty-first century.
Lastly, Andrew Hodges will play a short piece of music, composed
with computer software and digitally generated sound. His piece,
*Song of cyberspace,* opens the portals of the Internet, but then
speaks unexpectedly of the bitter irony of the computer's military
past, evoking the submarine Atlantic warfare as the ancestor of
the global Internet. Then it is brought back to the vibrant modern
world, in which sexuality and music have driven the popular demand
for computer technology, and ends with
a sigh for all that had to be sacrificed.