Happy 99th Birthday Alan Turing

The father of modern computing, he would have been a year short of his century today -- had not an ungrateful nation, or at least its Crown Prosecution Service of the day, hounded him to an early death. You utter unmitigated bastards.

Although his Turing Machine came to characterise the general programmable computer, it's worth noting that his practical work building on the Polish bombe was very much a specialised highly-parallel application-specific computation engine. I wonder what he would have thought of the evolution of the Field Programmable Gate Array over the past 20 years, as we try to get around the single-thread bottleneck innate in microprocessor design. Yes, yes, quad cores in user desktops these days, whoop-de-frickin'-do - check out Deep Crack and tell me how many 1-U blades you need to glue together to match that performance.

Turing would have felt quite at home in the modern geekosphere. As was noted eloquently in the Jargon File's portrait of J. Random Hacker:
...the ties many hackers have to AI research and SF literature may have helped them to develop an idea of personhood that is inclusive rather than exclusive — after all, if one's imagination readily grants full human rights to future AI programs, robots, dolphins, and extraterrestrial aliens, mere color and gender can't seem very important any more.
RIP Alan Turing. Thank you for everything, and I'm so sorry it came at such a cost for you.

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