Society Meeting: Diverse Perspectives on Alan Turing

De Morgan House and Online
Start date
Meeting Date
Sir Dermot Turing, Stephen H. Muggleton (Imperial), Andrew Hodges (Oxford), Debbie Marriott (Bank of England), Jonathan Dawes (Bath), Janet Foster (LMS Archivist)

This Society Meeting is being hosted as a hybrid event.

- If you would like attend remotely via Zoom, please use this registration form by 10.00am (GMT) on Friday 4 March 2022.

- We regret to advise that registration to attend in-person at De Morgan House has closed early due to reaching capacity. (Please note that registration for the Society Dinner after the meeting has now closed).

Programme (all times are in GMT)

1.00pm: Arrival 

1.30pm:  Welcome and Society Business

1.45pm:   Andrew Hodges (University of Oxford)

A double enigma: what did Alan Turing do in 1945 and in 1954?

Abstract: Just 75 years ago, Turing gave his own talk to the London Mathematical Society, in the course of which he asserted that all the digital computers then being planned could be regarded as practical versions of the 1936 Universal Turing Machine. Can Turing be said to have originated the digital computer? What happened in 1945? I will first review this highly contentious issue. In the second part of the talk I will address another much debated question, that of how and why he met his death in 1954. In both cases I will try to illustrate the depth of Turing’s experience, both mathematical and personal.

2.30pm: Debbie Marriott (Bank of England): 

The Creative Journey of the new £50 banknote design

 Abstract: Once the decision to use Turing as the character on the new £50 note was made, the creative journey for the design began.  From the initial concept image to the intricate final detailed design, the £50 design aesthetically represents Turing’s significant achievements from the theoretical underpinnings for the modern computer to the foundations for work on artificial intelligence.

2.50pm: Janet Foster (LMS Archivist): 

Turing and the LMS

3.00- 3.30pm    Break

3.30pm: Professor Stephen H. Muggleton (Imperial College London): 

Alan Turing and the development of Artificial Intelligence

Abstract: Alan Turing (1912-1954) has been widely celebrated as having laid the foundations for Computer Science, Automated Decryption, Systems Biology and the Turing Test. In this talk we investigate Turing’s motivations and expectations for the development of Machine Intelligence, as expressed in his 1950 article in Mind. We show that many of the trends and developments within Artificial Intelligence (AI) over the last 50 years were foreseen in this foundational paper. In particular, Turing not only describes the use of Computational Logic but also the necessity for the development of Machine Learning in order to achieve human-level AI within a 50 year time-frame. His description of the Child Machine (a machine which learns like an infant) dominates the closing section of the paper, in which he provides suggestions for how AI might be achieved. Turing discusses three alternative suggestions which can be characterised as: 1) AI by programming, 2) AI by ab initio machine learning and 3) AI using logic, probabilities, learning and background knowledge. He argues that there are inevitable limitations in the first two approaches and recommends the third as the most promising. We compare Turing’s three alternatives to developments within AI, and conclude with a discussion of some of the unresolved challenges he posed within the paper.

4.15pm  Jonathan Dawes (University of Bath)

Unpublished patterns of thought: Alan Turing’s later work on morphogenesis’

 Abstract: Turing’s 1952 publication in mathematical biology provides only a glimpse of his perceptive thinking on the topic. Unpublished archive material reveals the fascinating genesis of much more complex ideas that were re-discovered only in the 1970s. I will discuss the 1952 paper, its context and initial reception, and what can be learned from the archive material about his research programme in his final years.

5.00-5.15 Break

5.15pm Sir Dermot Turing

Alan Turing’s ‘wasted years’: the mathematics of World War 2

Abstract: Until the work of Bletchley Park was made public, the mathematical world thought of the war years as ‘wasted’ for Alan Turing. Now we know all about the battle against Enigma – but what, exactly, did Alan Turing do during the war, and what mathematics was involved?

6.00-6.10      Thanks and close

6.10 – 7.30   Reception and Exhibition at De Morgan House

7:30 -  end    Society Dinner at the Blue Door Bistro. Montague on the Gardens Hotel. (Please note that registration for the Society Dinner has now closed).