As a data scientist working at the UK’s national institute for data science and AI, The Alan Turing Institute, I am absolutely delighted at the news of Alan Turing being chosen as the face of the new £50 note.
My career has taken me from physics to neuroscience, and my current work focuses on improving the lives of neurodivergent people and people with mental health conditions.
I am proud to carry on Turing’s legacy of imagining new ways to view the world, create a better one, and do it by working with others across disciplines.
Data scientists are sometimes described as unicorns: bringing together skills in statistics, domain expertise and software development.
At the Turing we don’t breed unicorns, but we do bring people together and replace those mythical beasts with teams of experts.
We follow in Alan Turing’s footsteps by working together to imagine a world that does not yet exist. And how to build it.
While Turing may be known for imagining the theoretical basis of the first computer, he also applied his skills to practical applications.
He used mathematics to shorten World War II by two to four years. But he did not work alone at Bletchley Park.
It was a hive of 10,000 people working 24 hours across three shift cycles every day.
Turing was gay, and his homosexuality resulted in him being defined as a security risk.
His conviction and subsequent hormonal treatment limited his ability to work and he was surveilled by police until his untimely death in 1954.
Alan Turing will now become the iconic face of the £50 note.
But he also represents everyone who has served their country, those giants of science on whose shoulders we now stand, and all people who have been – and continue to be – denied their human rights.
I look to Alan Turing both as a role model to inspire new and creative research questions and as motivation to keep fighting for equity and justice for all marginalised members of our society.
In his own words: “We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.”