Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds
Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This week, we explore the wonderful world of Alan Turing, whose work in cryptography (i.e. code breaking) helped save the world in WW2. He then conceived the basic structure for computers and saw the future of artificial intelligence. He was celebrated in his lifetime by being condemned by the UK government for sex, spending the last year or two of his existence undergoing forced 'chemical castration' by way of experimental estrogen treatments.
The UK has done some good work to remedy the ugly errors of its past, directly addressing it in prepared statements with the bank note itself, which has some very cool details and design:
this is the new £50 note featuring scientist Alan Turing. It includes his date of birth in binary, a foil pattern with a microchip, and the Automatic Computing Engine Pilot Machine Turing designed. It looks awesome 🌈 https://t.co/v5kq4tFEVV pic.twitter.com/8WAxe9Wanw
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) March 25, 2021
But this week discusses a basic truth: Government Symbolism, especially its currency, is complicated. To be candid: after someone is abused, as Turing was, they might not want to be the face on their abuser's money. Or the errors of such violence should be on the bill itself. For example, in the margin of the bill, the words "Alan Turing (1912-1954)" are stated, and with ample empty space. Simply adding: "— with apology for his unkind treatment by the UK government", or something equally observant, would make the Fifty Pound note less propagandistic and really mean something.
The white space on the note allows for an extra message in the margin. Make it friendly with a happy font, even, but say it!
The story of Alan Turing is a deep and interesting one, however, and his accomplishments far outshine his tragic ending. So we discuss the variations on this problem with our discussion this week, which also discusses how a Turing Machine works, which is a fun thing to learn.
Following that, for musical purposes, this week includes a demo of the eurorack version of The Turing Machine. It's an interesting interpretation. A normal Turing Machine edits a code of tape until it is a solved problem, and the eurorack interpretation gives you random notes until you lock in a sequence of sounds, solving the random generation into melodies. We use the Dead Man's Catch version in this week's demo.
Also, Mark was very cool to already post this, but if you read the John Wilcock comic on Boing Boing over the last ten years, we have now completed a collection of the series and it is running on Kickstarter this month. (video posted below) – Price of one copy will cost you only one Alan Turing, or less!
Thanks and have a good week, Ethan