In brief: Alan Turing, the scientist and mathematician who helped break the Enigma code during the second world war, has been chosen to appear on the UK’s new £50 note.
Turing, who is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, was picked from a list of almost 1,000 other scientists.
Best known for his work at the Bletchley Park codebreaking center during the second world war, Turing came up with techniques that helped break German ciphers, which included making improvements to Polish methods that could find settings for the Enigma machine.
After the war, Turing played a pivotal role in the development of early computers, cementing the foundations of artificial intelligence by asking the question of whether machines could think. His Turing Test, which determines whether a human can tell if an AI is a person or a computer through a conversation, is still used as a benchmark for AI.
Despite everything he had achieved for his country, Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for his relationship with a man. He was ordered to undergo chemical castration, and in 1954 Turing took his own life by eating a cyanide-filled Apple. It wasn’t until 2013 that he was finally given a posthumous royal pardon.
The final shortlist of 12 candidates for the £50 note included Stephen Hawking, Charles Babbage, and Ada Lovelace. The currency, set to enter circulation by the end of 2021, will feature a quote from Turing’s 1949 interview with The Times newspaper: "This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be."
Turing was played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2014 film The Imitation Game. It received eight Oscar nominations, winning Best Adapted Screenplay.