Alan Turing, the Father of A.I., Is the New Face of a Banknote

July 15, 2019, 11:16 AM UTC

Code breaker and father of artificial intelligence Alan Turing will be the face of the U.K.’s new polymer 50-pound ($63) note.

The mathematician was chosen from almost 1,000 eligible nominations from the field of science suggested by the public, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said at an event in Manchester, U.K. on Monday.

“Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today,” Carney said. “Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand.”

Other names on the shortlist for the note included Stephen Hawking, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, and Mary Anning.

Turing — played by Benedict Cumberbatch in a 2014 movie about his life — was best known for his work devising code breaking machines during World War II and later helped develop the first computers. His work on the question of whether computers can think laid the foundations for AI.

The decision follows a campaign for more diversity on the U.K. currency. Turing, who was convicted for gross indecency for his relationship with a man, was chosen from a shortlist of nine men and four women. He was pardoned posthumously in 2013.

The new polymer note, Britain’s highest denomination in circulation, is set for release by the end of 2021 and the concept design unveiled by Carney featured a photograph of Turing taken in 1951. A table and mathematical formula from his academic work, a picture of an early digital computer, binary code, and a quote from Turing are also included.

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