While out for a run, Alan Turing conceived of the computer. He wasn’t mid-stride when he did it. By his own recollection, he was taking a break, lying in a meadow near Grantchester, a few miles south of King’s College.
He saw that any mathematical operation that could be performed by the teeming neurons of a human brain could also be worked out by a single machine with only three capabilities: distinguishing between two symbols, traversing a series of those symbols and swapping one for the other. With this insight, he had invented a method by which to offload humanity’s entire wealth of formalized logic onto a discrete cluster of inorganic matter. By his own estimation, he had found a way to share thought itself with the bloodless parts of the universe.
Read the rest at the Los Angeles Review of Books.
This man is fascinating.