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Alan Turing’s ‘fearless approach to problems and intellectual curiosity’ praised

The announcement that Alan Turing will appear on the next £50 banknote has been welcomed.

Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, during the announcement that Alan Turing has been selected to feature on the next £50 note (Peter Byrne/PA)
Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, during the announcement that Alan Turing has been selected to feature on the next £50 note (Peter Byrne/PA)

Alan Turing’s “fearless” approach to daunting problems continues to inspire new generations, according to those welcoming the announcement that he will appear on the next £50 Bank of England note.

Sir Dermot Turing, nephew of Alan Turing and trustee at Bletchley Park Trust, said: “Today’s announcement follows many years of work by various individuals and organisations to honour and remember the life, work and tragic death of Alan Turing.

“I am touched by all those who nominated Alan to be the face of the new £50 note, and hope today’s news will inspire more people to learn about his story and contribution to computer science.”

Iain Standen, chief executive of Bletchley Park Trust, added: “It is a very fitting tribute to the life and work of Alan Turing that he will be the new face of the £50 note.

“During World War Two, he and a team of like-minded men and women played a crucial role at Bletchley Park.

“Today he is rightly considered one of the pioneers of modern computing and artificial intelligence, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations.”

Adrian Smith, director and chief executive of the Alan Turing Institute, said: “Alan Turing continues to inspire us here at the national institute for data science and AI (artificial intelligence), named in his honour.

“We’re incredibly proud of his legacy, and delighted that he will now grace the £50 note.

“Turing’s fearless approach to daunting problems and his intellectual curiosity still have a remarkable influence today across different disciplines and communities.”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss tweeted: “Great choice!”

Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester central, wrote on Twitter: “Absolutely delighted by this news. Alan Turing was a national hero and treasure who suffered disgusting prejudice for his sexuality. It’s absolutely right we celebrate him for who he was.”

Former Manchester MP and gay rights campaigner John Leech, who while in Parliament led a long campaign to have Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency for his relationship with a man, pardoned said: “It is almost impossible to put into words the difference that Alan Turing made to society.

“But perhaps the most poignant example is that his work is estimated to have shortened the war by four years and saved up to 21 million lives.

“And yet the way he was treated afterwards remains a national embarrassment and an example of society at its absolute worst.

“I’m absolutely delighted that Turing will be the face of the new £50 note and I hope it will go some way to acknowledging his unprecedented contribution to society and science.

“It is a fitting and welcome tribute to a true Manchester hero.

“But more importantly I hope it will serve as a stark and rightfully painful reminder of what we lost in Turing, and what we risk when we allow that kind of hateful ideology to win.”

Natasha Ellison, a PhD researcher in mathematical biology at the University of Sheffield, said Turing had written a theoretical paper on biology “and only recently have scientists shown that this mathematical theory truly describes many patterns we see in nature”.

She added: “The mathematics this paper described is used by mathematical biologists all over the world, to understand more about a whole range of biological processes from cancer growth to how animals use their landscape.

“I wish he could have known how important his work has become and how it continues to progress our species.”

A GCHQ spokeswoman said: “Alan Turing made many vital contributions to society, and it is wonderful to see him honoured in this way.

“He was an extraordinary mathematician whose unique problem-solving skills were instrumental in the breaking of Enigma at Bletchley Park during World War Two.

“His technical innovations were ahead of their time, and still inform and improve our work at GCHQ to help keep the UK safe.”

Writer Caroline Criado-Perez, who has previously campaigned to highlight the lack of women on banknotes, pointed out that three out of four of the Bank of England’s notes, will continue to feature men, apart from the Queen.

The £10 note features Jane Austen.

She wrote on Twitter: “So that’s still 75% male & 100% white. Really disappointing, @bankofengland. You were meant to change your selection procedure to include diversity across the characters as part of the criteria. What went wrong?”

PA

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