STORIES
Freedom

Alan Turing

by Foster Barber - 10th Grade - from Virginia

144330Alan TuringDuane Wessels - Flickr [Public domain]My Hero: Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a World War Two hero in that his genius saved millions of lives, before and after the war, and the persecution he went through long after it saved many more from sharing the same fate. His supreme intelligence led to the Nazis’ codes being broken, which significantly shortened the war, saving millions of lives. His contributions to artificial intelligence brought security into peoples’ lives worldwide, saving lives still today. And, because of the horrifying treatment he went through for simply being homosexual, people who feel the same are now more protected today from what happened to him. Even though Turing’s life was cut awfully short, he still saved countless lives and still continues to, because without him, we would be decades behind where we are now, in almost every aspect of our lives.

Turing’s intelligence allowed him to, essentially, single-handedly turn World War Two in favor of the Allied Powers. I believe intelligence is an important heroic trait to have because without it, what are we really? We would be mindless creatures without a sign of basic human qualities: the qualities that make us who we are. Alan Turing utilized his intelligence to help people, and that made him a hero to the people who had been suffering, and to the people who would have suffered. Turing designed machines that would help crack the German “Enigma” Code. This machine easily decoded Nazi messages during the war, decrypting one about every thirty seconds. Winston Churchill himself said that without his work, the war would have gone on for at least two more years and would have taken millions of more lives (Schilling). Alan’s genius with the codebreaker then directly led to the creation of artificial intelligence. 

144329Turing Machine"Turing machine in Bletchley Park" by DouglasHoyt is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.Another heroic element that makes Alan Turing a hero is that since artificial intelligence has saved human lives, so then, indirectly, has Turing. Anyone alive today, with some knowledge of technology, would probably agree with the sentiment that artificial intelligence has largely benefited the world, a field in which Turing pioneered. After the war, he explored it in great depth, coming with several theories supporting the idea that machines could, supposedly, be smart enough to think. Without him we would have little to no advanced technology, since he was the only one who managed to achieve some success with AI. He also designed the first ever computer and created the Turing Machine, a complex, mathematical machine whose design is still used today. “His conceptual notions, such as the Universal Turing Machine, provided the basis for serious analysis of computability and decidability” (N4CM). Despite such success and his obvious importance, Turing was eventually stripped of his power and his dignity because of the way he lived his private life.

Turing was a homosexual, and when the government found out, they destroyed his life. But, his suffering has led to other people’s freedom. Turing knew that being found out as a homosexual had dire consequences, but he also knew it was a part of who he was and that it was something he could not simply let go of. When he was exposed, his entire life crumbled around him. He lost his position and was shunned by society. His own “friends'' abandoned him. “When his sexual orientation became known, the WWII hero lost his security clearance. Even his colleagues failed to come up to his defense, to support this genius as well as WWII hero. All the heroism and brilliance he showed throughout the Second World War was outmaneuvered by this single fact” (Pitogo). The government even chemically castrated him; it was either that or go to prison. All of this, combined with the fact that he was previously such an important figure, showed how flawed the system was. So, change was brought about, and because of his trials and tribulations, people today can live, for the most part, freely, and not worry about being scorned by their own governments just for being themselves.

Alan Turing died in 1954, yet his actions before his demise are saving lives even today. During World War two, his actions saved millions of lives. Even after the war, his ingenuity led to artificial intelligence, which has easily saved millions of lives. And, when he was severely punished merely because of the way he felt, the changes made and the realizations that came afterward because of it has probably saved millions of more lives! Turing’s life was not a long one, but without him, our world would, undoubtedly, be extremely worse off.

 

Bibliography:

“Alan Turing.” The MY HERO Project, myhero.com/turing-featured.

Pitogo, Heziel. “Why the World Should Be Thankful to WWII Hero Alan Turing.” WAR HISTORY ONLINE, 30 July 2014, www.warhistoryonline.com/war-articles/world-thankful-wwii-hero-alan-turing.html.

“Alan Turing: Gay Hero Stopped World War II Then Punished By Government - Hollywood Insider.” Hollywood Insider - News Entertainment & Culture, 29 Apr. 2020, www.hollywoodinsider.com/alan-turing-hero/.

N4CM. Alan Turing: Why the Tech World’s Hero Should Be a Household Name. 20 Oct. 2018, churchandstate.org.uk/2018/10/alan-turing-why-the-tech-worlds-hero-should-be-a-household-name/

Schilling, Jonathan. “Churchill: Turing Made the Single Biggest Contribution to Allied Victory - the International Churchill Society.” The International Churchill Society, Churchill, 8 Jan. 2015, winstonchurchill.org/resources/myths/churchill-said-turing-made-the-single-biggest-contribution-to-allied-victory/.

Page created on 5/14/2021 4:42:13 PM

Last edited 5/14/2021 8:11:17 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.