Science and technology exposed
What the academics don’t want you to know about Alan Turing and Colossus
YouTube: The Men Who Cracked Enigma
“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.” Carl Sagan.
The name Alan Turing has been much in the public consciousness of late with the film ‘Breaking the Code’ and ‘Alan Turing: The Enigma’: the book that was to Inspire the Film ‘The Imitation Game’. We read in en.wiki that: “The Princeton Alumni Weekly named Turing the second most significant alumnus in the history of Princeton University, second only to President James Madison.
A 1.5-ton, life-size statue of Turing was unveiled on 19 June 2007 at Bletchley Park…Turingwas prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts, when such behaviour was still criminalised in the UK. He accepted treatment with oestrogen injections (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death a suicide, but it has since been noted that the known evidence is equally consistent with accidental poisoning.”
Wiki tries to justify the brutality of the misguided medical treatment: With:
‘Alternative death theories ‘
“Philosophy professor Jack Copeland has questioned various aspects of the coroner’s historical verdict, suggesting the alternative explanation of the accidental inhalation of cyanide fumes from an apparatus for gold electroplating spoons, using potassium cyanide to dissolve the gold, which Turing had set up in his tiny spare room. Copeland notes that the autopsy findings were more consistent with inhalation than with ingestion of the poison. (I suppose he would know, him being a Philosophy professor?) Turing also habitually ate an apple before bed, and it was not unusual for it to be discarded half-eaten. In addition, Turing had reportedly borne his legal setbacks and hormone treatment (which had been discontinued a year previously) “with good humour” and had shown no sign of despondency prior to his death, setting down, in fact, a list of tasks he intended to complete upon return to his office after the holiday weekend. At the time, Turing’s mother believed that the ingestion was accidental, resulting from her son’s careless storage of laboratory chemicals. Biographer Andrew Hodges suggests that Turing may have arranged the cyanide experiment deliberately, to give his mother some plausible deniability. ” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing#Alternative_death_theories
“Law professor John Stinneford has argued that chemical castration is a cruel and unusual punishment because it exerts control over the mind of sex offenders to render them incapable of sexual desire and subjects them to the physical changes caused by the female hormones used. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_castration#Effects
Wiki: Turing’s biographers Andrew Hodges and David Leavitt have suggested that Turing was re-enacting a scene from the 1937 Walt Disney film Snow White, his favourite fairy tale, both noting that (in Leavitt’s words) he took “an especially keen pleasure in the scene where the Wicked Queen immerses her apple in the poisonous brew”.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing#Alternative_death_theories
Under the watchful eye of skeptic master Wiki editors the usual Wiki slant for the above would be “conspiracy theory”, but this is academic Alan Turing and a “coroner’s historical verdict”. This is the New Inquisition who make the rules as they go along. “In the end, it comes down to proof. We’re not curmudgeons,” Susan Gerbic said. “We just want more facts when someone makes a claim.”
From theguardian.com we read that: “The family of the codebreaker Alan Turing will visit Downing Street on Monday to demand the government pardons 49,000 other men persecuted like him for their homosexuality.
Well yeah, that may be a good idea!
The author cannot but wonder if Turing’s elevation to science super-stardom has more than a little to do with his treatment at the hands of those who chemically castrated him – I am speaking of course of the scientific community who were advisors and willing accomplices to such crimes of gender prejudice.
Then we have another headline at theguardian.com:
“Misgivings over the pardon of Alan Turing” “Most of us appreciate the pardon of Alan Turing, but we cannot atone for his appalling treatment and eventual suicide by persisting in the “Colossus misconception”. Professor Jack Copeland and Paul Gannon, in their books on Colossus, draw attention to the misconception that Turing played some part in the design and build of the world’s first electronic computer. Turing was in America when Tiltman and Tutte broke the more complex Fish/Tunny code.
Thomas H Flowers, a Post Office engineer, already using valves, knew he was the only one with the expertise to build an electronic machine that would speed up the urgent deciphering process. His offer to build a machine was turned down. He went back to Dollis Hill and, with his own money, built Colossus. Installed in January 1944, it was an immediate success and allowed the Allies to read messages between Hitler and his high command. It was Colossus that shortened the war by two years and saved millions of lives. It was Flowers who led the world into the electronic computer era we now live in. When asked what part Turing played in the Colossus computer, Flowers said “he had nothing to do with it”. Why the misconception persists and Flower’s role is diminished is worthy of some consideration. He may himself have been the victim of a different form of discrimination. His degree in electrical engineering was gained at night school at London University. He was not an Oxbridge chap and was referred to at Bletchley Park as “the cockney”.”
As we see above, not everyone is happy with the official version and an alternate more historically accurate version is freely available to those who take the trouble to do a little research.
That the bright spark of genius is more apt to visit the keen amateur than the educated professor is a universal law that seems to be wholly unacceptable to academic science. And so they build their own phantom, a caricature of grim academic genius, a fantasy visited on an unsuspecting soul, alive or dead. They manufacture in preconceived image and groom him like a Hollywood movie star. They overload him with unearned acclaim. We will see in these pages that Turing is not alone in being posthumously groomed for scientific stardom.
Scientific American “How Alan Turing Invented the Computer Age”
scientificamerican.com “Turing demonstrated (read theorised) you could construct a single Universal Machine that could simulate any Turing Machine. One machine solving any problem, performing any task for which a program could be written – sound familiar? He’d invented the computer.” http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/04/26/how-alan-turing-invented-the-computer-age/
Although Wiki says: “A Turing machine is not intended as practical computing technology, but rather as a hypothetical device representing a(n infinite) computing machine.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_machine
He wrote in COMPUTING MACHINERY AND INTELLIGENCE – “I propose to consider the question, “Can machines think?”” http://loebner.net/Prizef/TuringArticle.html
And even after all these years the answer is still a resounding “NO”, computers are adding machines, not thinkers. The computer is only as good as the programmer – who is hopefully, able to think. Artificial Intelligence is a Sci-Fi dream although there are clever programs that appear to imitate intelligence. It’s done by trickery and is only believed by those who are blinded by Hollywood and the hype of the scientific press.
Sometime during the early 1990’s the author saw an article about a psychologist who thought that the questions he asked his patients could easily be computerised; and he was right. Based on the article, I wrote a Basic program called ‘Sympathy’. It involved the computer asking the same question three times in different ways and certain parts of the answers were used to provide answers to the questioner’s problem. I was surprised at the time spent by my wife and daughter talking to a program that was using their answers to solve their own mundane problems… and this was all done with 64K of memory. This is how easy it is to emulate the ‘Turing Test’ and I take no credit for being a genius, it was a very simple program.
Turing said, “Can machines think? a machine could be said to be “intelligent” if it could fool a human questioner into thinking that it was a human being.” This is what I did and this is the famous Turing test, It has been used in an unending scientific debate about what it means to be intelligent – or not. Science has always embraced this brand of surrealism whilst at the same time condemning it in other areas of endeavour. Science has no clue about what constitutes intelligence or even what thinking is all about and this can be easily explained by the materialist paradigm that says the brain is a computer à la Turing.
Alan Turing did not crack the Enigma code, nor did he play any part in the design of Colossus and it’s doubtful that his theories made any contribution to subsequent computer development other than encouraging fantasies regarding AI. He did very little, but I’ve read much about what academics say he did, accompanied by not a jot or an iota of evidence that he did any such things. Turing is the scientific myth that the actual man – Alan Turing would have rejected in the light of modern computing.
Tommy Flowers and Colossus
highfields-arc.co.uk: “The first practical programmable electronic computer Colossus, was designed and built by Tommy Flowers, a Post Office engineer, at his own expense. Flowers himself makes it quite clear that Alan Turing had nothing to do with it:
One anecdote I feel I must recount here is that when someone remarked to Tommy about Alan Turing’s “great contribution” to Colossus, Tommy replied: “Alan Turing had nothing to do with it!” It seemed like it wasn’t the first time Tommy had heard of Turing’s “great contribution” to the engineering and practical breakthroughs that Tommy was crucially involved in – and he was quite keen to put the record straight! (and who would blame him?)”
colossus-computer.com: “The view that Alan Turing’s interest in electronics contributed to the inspiration for Colossus is indeed common. This claim is enshrined in code-breaking exhibits in leading museums; and in the Annals of the History of Computing, Lee and Holtzman state that Turing ‘conceived of the construction and usage of high-speed electronic devices; these ideas were implemented as the “Colossus” machines’. However, the definitive 1945 General Report on Tunny makes matters perfectly clear: ‘Colossus was entirely the idea of Mr. Flowers’ By 1943 electronics had been Flowers’ driving passion for more than a decade and he needed no help from Turing. Turing was, in any case, away in the United States during the critical period at the beginning of 1943 when Flowers proposed his idea to Newman (not to be confused with von Neumann) and worked out the design of Colossus on paper. Flowers emphasised in an interview that Turing ‘made no contribution’ to the design of Colossus.96 Flowers said: ‘I invented the Colossus. No one else was capable of doing it.’”
John von Neumann was a Hungarian and later an American pure and applied mathematician.
We need to stop here and clarify that one of the links below records that it was the code breakers themselves, with Turing, Welchman and Newman at their head, who rejected the Colossus idea, causing Flowers to go-it-alone. It was also these same codebreakers who initially tried to reject the unheard-of, Bill Tutte and his application to become a code breaker; he was the person who actually did break the code. This goes some of the way to an understanding of the snobbery and internal politics and also just how much history has been distorted to enable the academics to build the myth of Alan Turing.
en.wiki supports the Turing myth: “Flowers had first met (and got on with) Turing in 1939, but was treated with disdain by Gordon Welchman, because of his advocacy of valves rather than relays. Welchman preferred the views of Wynn-Williams and Keene of BTM, and wanted Radley (director of Dollis Hill) and “Mr Flowers” removed from work on Colossus for “squandering good valves”. And then Wiki tells us: “Welchman moved to the United States in 1948, and taught the first computer course at MIT in the United States.” …after previously rejecting the crucial advance to electronic computing. You couldn’t make this stuff up! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Welchman
Cryptomuseum tells us: “William Gordon Welchman (1906 – 1985) was a British mathematician, university professor and author. During World War II he was a codebreaker at Bletchley Park (BP) where he became the head of Hut Six. After the war, he moved to the United States and became a US citizen.” Presumably because he was offered a better job?
bbc.com, headline: “Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was warned a World War Two codebreaker had become a security threat 40 years after his “influential” work.”
cryptomuseum.com: “After Frederick Winterbotham had published his book The Ultra Secret in 1974, in which the existence of Bletchley Park was revealed, Welchman thought the time was right to talk about his wartime work as a codebreaker. In 1982 he published his book The Hut Six Story in which he gave a detailed account of the organisation of Hut 6 and the technical backgrounds to the Bombe.
Although 37 years had passed since the end of WWII, the book caused upset with the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US. Although the book was not banned, Welchman was forbidden to discuss it and his wartime work in public. Furthermore, he lost his security clearance in the United States and could therefore no longer work as a consultant for MITRE (Corporation, working on secure communications systems for the US military).” http://www.cryptomuseum.com/people/gordon_welchman It’s interesting to note at this point that at the time the only UK Official Secrets Act computer-related-gag that would have concerned Welchman was the one attached to Colossus.
So it seems the Bletchley anti-valve-computer academics did take Tommy Flowers’ computer secrets very seriously after all? en.wiki: “On 19 February 1946 Turing presented a detailed paper to the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) Executive Committee, giving the first reasonably complete design of a stored-program computer. However, because of the strict and long-lasting secrecy around the Bletchley Park work, he was prohibited (because of the Official Secrets Act) from explaining that he knew that his ideas could be implemented in an electronic device. The better-known EDVAC design presented in the First Draft Report on the EDVAC (dated June 30, 1945), by John von Neumann, who knew of Turing’s theoretical work, received much publicity, despite its incomplete nature and questionable lack of attribution of the sources of some of the ideas.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_Computing_Engine
The lack of attribution and sources of ideas was presumably Tommy Flowers sole ownership for the design and construction of Colossus? But Tommy had been silenced by the Official Secrets Act and had no recourse.
Wiki, of course has to back not only the official party line, but also the sceptical view and stands on it’s head to protect the reputation of the Turing construct. What the above tells us is that Turing did not completely understand how Colossus worked and did not have a complete working diagram of its electronics. It also tells us that Turing was involved with von Neumann and EDVAC. There is documented evidence to back-up this assumption… but maybe not?
rutherfordjournal.org: “Von Neumann’s ‘First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC’, completed in the spring of 1945, also set out a design for an electronic stored-program digital computer (‘EDVAC’ stood for ‘Electronic Discrete Variable Computer’). Von Neumann’s report, to which Turing referred in ‘Proposed Electronic Calculator’, was more abstract than Turing’s, saying little about programming or electronics. Harry Huskey, the electronic engineer who subsequently drew up the first detailed hardware designs for the EDVAC, said that the information in von Neumann’s report was of no help to him in this. Turing, by contrast, supplied detailed circuit designs, full specifications of hardware units, specimen programs in machine code, and even an estimate of the cost of building the ACE… (“ACE” was Turing’s unsuccessful attempt to build a computer post-war. The very same person who has been credited with the design of Colossus and is now revered as the father of computer science was unable build a working computer years after the war.)
“Right from the start there was a mismatch of visions. Turing saw himself as building ‘a brain’. ‘In working on the ACE’, he said, ‘I am more interested in the possibility of producing models of the action of the brain than in the practical applications to computing’.”
But a computer is not a brain.
Colossus: Creating a Giant
colossus-computer.com: “During their later years the two Colossi were used extensively for training. Details of what they were used for prior to this remain classified. There is a hint of the importance of one new role for these Newmanry (those who worked for Newman at Bletchley Park) survivors in a letter written by Jack Good: “I heard that Churchill requested that all Colossi be destroyed after the war, but GCHQ decided to keep at least one of them. I know of that one because I used it myself. That was the first time it was used after the war. I used it for a purpose for which NSA [(US) National Security Agency] were planning to build a new special-purpose machine. When I showed that the job could be carried out on Colossus, NSA decided not to go ahead with their plan. That presumably is one reason I am still held in high regard in NSA. Golde told me that one of his friends who visits NSA told Golde that I am ‘regarded as God’ there.”” http://www.colossus-computer.com/colossus1.html
It would be interesting to know just how much of Colossus went into the British and US computers that came later… like Turing’s ACE?
And so even though officially, Churchill had requested that all Colossi be destroyed after the war, GCHQ a British intelligence organisation responsible for providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information to the British government, acquired a Colossus. The NSA a U S intelligence agency responsible for global monitoring, collection, decoding, translation and analysis of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes – also known as Signals intelligence (SIGINT) was also given a Colossus.
spartacus-educational.com: “Jack Good worked closely with Max Newman and Tommy Flowers in producing the pioneering Colossus computer. Good later recalled: “The machine was programmed largely by plugboards. It read the tape at 5,000 characters per second and, at least in Mark II, the circuits were in quintuplicate so that in a sense the reading speed was 25,000 bits per second. This compares well with the speed of the electronic computers of the early 1950s.”
bbc.co.uk: “He (Alan Turing) is often called the “father of computing”, but was this really the case at the time of conception? Turing’s former Cambridge tutor and leader of the wartime Colossus development at Bletchley Park, Prof Max Newman, described him as “one of the most profound and original mathematical minds of his generation”.
And yet, when asked what influence Turing’s ‘On Computable Numbers’ paper had in the early days of computer design, Newman replied: “I should say practically none at all.”” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18327261 We are bound to ask, if we accept Newman’s word that Turing had no effect on computer development, what on earth did he do to deserve his reputation as a computer pioneer?
The Enigma machine and Colossus
en.wiki: “Arthur Scherbius (1878 1929) was a German electrical engineer who patented an invention for a mechanical cipher machine, later sold as the Enigma machine.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Scherbius
cryptomuseum.com: “The first patent for an Enigma machine, or at least something that would eventually evolve into an Enigma machine, was filed by the German inventor Arthur Scherbius in 1918. He worked in close collaboration with Hugo Alexander Koch from The Netherlands, who had also patented a cipher machine. Koch’s patents were later transferred to Scherbius’ company. It should be noted however, that the rotor machine was initially invented in 1915 in the Netherlands by two Naval officers, R.P.C. Sprengler (1875-1955) and Theo A van Hendel (1875-1939). Over the years, many aspects of the Enigma machine were patented in Germany, but also in other countries such as the USA, the UK, France, Switzerland and The Netherlands.” It is documented that there were a string of patents after the date above, the last one being registered in 1929. The first German Patent DE416219 / 23 February 1918 “This is also the first Enigma-related patent, filed by Arthur Scherbius, was issued on the 23 February 1918. It was released on 8 July 1925.”
As we can clearly see from the above, the Enigma was not a secret during WWII.
en.wiki: (Tommy) “Flowers’s first contact with the wartime code-breaking effort came in February 1941 when his director, W Gordon Radley was asked for help by Alan Turing, who was then working at the government’s Bletchley Park code-breaking establishment 50 miles north west of London in Buckinghamshire. Turing wanted Flowers to build a decoder for the relay-based (electromechanical) Bombe machine, which Turing had developed to help decrypt the Germans’ Enigma codes.
Colossus was intended to process information derived from the, by then, updated Lorenz cipher machine (teleprinter) transmissions and not the Enigma as is so often believed. The reader can see from this that no support for Colossus was forthcoming from Turing or Max Newman: Turing, supposedly being the ideas-man behind all modern electronic computers.
Marian Adam Rejewski (1905 to 1980) was, according to en.wiki, “a Polish mathematician and cryptologist who in 1932 solved the plugboard-equipped Enigma machine, the main cipher device used by Germany. The success of Rejewski and his colleagues Jerzy Rózycki and Henryk Zygalski jump-started British reading of Enigma in World War II; the intelligence so gained, code-named “Ultra”, contributed, perhaps decisively, to the defeat of Nazi Germany. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_Rejewski
But we are told to believe that Turing did this!
Turing and the Bomba
en.wiki “The bomba was an electromechanical device (not electronic) used by British cryptologists to help decipher German Enigma-machine-encrypted signals during World War II… …The initial design of the bombe was produced in 1939 at the UK Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park by Alan Turing, with an important refinement devised in 1940 by Gordon Welchman. The engineering design and construction was the work of Harold Keen of the British Tabulating Machine Company, it was a substantial development from a device that had been designed in 1938 by Polish Cipher Bureau cryptologist Marian Rejewski, and known as the “cryptologic bomb” (Polish: “bomba kryptologiczna”).”
It seems that Turing was involved in an important refinement of the Bomb that was devised by Gordon Welchman??? This is a typical example of historic distortion (revision) by Wiki.
bletchleypark.org.uk tells us that: “Before World War II, Polish crypto-analysts had already designed an electro-mechanical machine to test Enigma rotor settings called a Bomba. However, in December 1938 the German military changed their system slightly thus thwarting the Poles ability to decrypt Enigma messages.
The resulting messaging system was the Lorenz cipher machine of C. Lorenz AG and it was this machine that was cracked… but not, as we will see, by Turing.
en.wiki: C. Lorenz AG, “…was a German electrical and electronics firm… In 1918, a German inventor developed a cipher machine using multiple rotors with pins representing alphabet letters. Placed on the commercial market as the Enigma machine, it was adopted by the German Navy and Army in the 1920s The Enigma, however had deficiencies, and the German Army High Command asked Lorenz to develop a new cipher machine that would allow communication by radio in extreme secrecy. Called the Schlusselzusatz (cipher attachment), the Lorenz cipher was an in-line addition to their standard teleprinter. The Lorenz SZ40 was introduced on an experimental basis in 1940, and the enhanced SZ42A machine was used from February 1943 and the SZ42B from June 1944 onwards for high-level communications between the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces in Berlin and Army Commands throughout occupied Europe. Unlike Enigma, no physical Lorenz machine reached Allies’ hands until the very end of the war in Europe.”
Lorenz cipher machine (codenamed Tunny at Bletchley)
It was the Lorenz Cipher machine that was decoded at Bletchley. en.wiki: “The Lorenz SZ40, SZ42A and SZ42B (SZ for Schlusselzusatz, meaning “cipher attachment” were German rotor stream cipher machines used by the German Army during World War II. They were developed by C. Lorenz AG in Berlin. They implemented a Vernam stream cipher. British cryptographers, who referred to encrypted German teleprinter traffic as Fish, dubbed the machine and its traffic Tunny.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenz_cipher
Along comes another unsung hero who was also sacrificed in order to build the Turing myth: It was a chemist, William Thomas Tutte who cracked the code:
bletchleypark.org.uk: “Originally rejected in interview by Alan Turing for a message-codebreaking team, he was recruited in May 1941 by John Tiltman for the research section, which actually turned out to be the best choice. Tutte’s work there allowed him, from basic mathematical analysis, to deduce the structure of the German Lorenz SZ 40/42 encryption machine (codenamed Tunny), that was used for high-level German Army communications. On 30 August 1941, the German high command sent a single message twice (a “depth”), allowing Tiltman to break the message code by deducing the obscuring key. Tiltman then handed it and some other Tunny keys to Tutte, who after writing out by hand the original teleprinter 5-character Baudot code, made an initial breakthrough by recognising a 41-character repeat. Over the following two months, Tutte and other members of the Research section worked out the complete logical structure of the cipher machine. This achievement was later described as “one of the greatest intellectual feats of World War II”. Using his breakthrough, bulk Cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher became possible.”
bletchleypark.org.uk tells a similar story: “John Tiltman then gave this long stretch of obscuring characters to a young chemistry graduate, Bill Tutte, who had recently come to Bletchley Park from Cambridge.
Bill Tutte started to write out the bit patterns from each of the five channels in the teleprinter form of the string of obscuring characters at various repetition periods. Remember this was BC, “Before Computers”, so he had to write out vast sequences by hand.” http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/machines.rhtm
William Tutte is rarely if ever mentioned in connection with the codebreakers, together with Tommy Flowers both went unrecognised until the 1970’s due to the Official Secrets Act , even today very few people have heard of them. But then, Tommy was not an academic, not a scientist, not a mathemetician and Tute was a chemist and this all but guarantees anonymity alongside the sons of scientific methodology. By contrast, Alan Turing, although virtually an unknown in his day, has been elevated to the dizzy heights of scientific superstardom. His computer science and AI achievements do not stand-up to critical scrutiny, but such is the invisible nature of The Emperors New Clothes. If you can’t recognise the invaluable contribution made by Turing it’s because you lack scientific education – in other words it’s because you are stupid! Asking questions that reveal the non-achievement of a scientists such as Turing is waved away as being stupid and unworthy of a straight answer.
Whoops! Don’t believe all that you read in the newspapers: dailymail.co.uk:
“Groundbreaking: Alan Turing also invented the code breaking naval Enigma machine, pictured, which cracked the Nazis’ coding machine and stripped U-boats blockading Britain of their cover.”
The example above graphically shows just how little is generally known about Alan Turing. The academic historians must have a fairly complete understanding of his true life and work and yet it can’t be found in print. He was a homosexual who had a hard time in his day, as did many other homosexuals and we all regret that. Can it be that the myth-making is more complex in his case? That the myth is not only the usual attempt to elevate the scientist above the mere mortal, but an apology for the historically bad attitude of science regarding gender preferences? Whatever the answer may be, science tells lies about its manufactured heroes and we are all the poorer for the misinformation.