........................................................................................ - a weBlog by Snowy and me.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Radio Plays I Will Never Hear (1); 'Alan Turing This Was Your Afterlife.'

The radio play I would like to hear is one
where the ghost of Alan Turing (1912-1954),
the pioneering mathematician who theorised
the idea of mechanical computers is taken on a tour
of the human inventiveness that his creation has since unleashed.

It was not his fault that he was both a gay man
who was happily serially sexually promiscuous
who was also deeply caught up in cold war secrecy
for having been a leading scientist during WW2.
It was this toxic combination that made his 'suicide' inevitable.

Since the Babylonians, information has been a means to power.
The machines that Turing theorised could be created
meant that much more information could be collected
about a far greater numbers of people
than had previously been imagined.

Before Turing 'Computers' was a term applied to people,
often women, who counted things, e.g. votes in an election
and did calculations for (usually male) accountants.
The machines he worked on during WW2 decoded messages
and were not concerned with collecting mass human data.

All that would start when the first computer
was booked by CBS News in 1952 
to predict the outcome of the Presidential election
and even then the pundits distrusted the result
though the computer prediction proved correct.

Even they next use of 'big data' in America
by the Democratic Party in the 1960 election 
did not make the use of computing machine
catch on for popular consumer use, and the UK
the computer was most used to settle the accounts
of Lyons Tea Shop, and Lyons were more taken
with teacakes and tea than with computing.

When they got out of computers to focus
on their core business of tea shops
they were only the latest to miss ,
and not recognise, the future.

Fast forward to 1969 and The Pentagon
invented the email as an internal messaging service
without telling anyone else. The world found out
decades later, long after Microsoft was founded
and changed the world with it's skilled machines
which are still taking the communication of life
further than previously computed to be possible.

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