Speaking at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney said the computer science pioneer “has had an enormous impact on how we live today.”
“As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as war hero, Alan Turing’s contributions were far ranging and path breaking,” said Carney. “Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand.”
Turing was instrumental in the development of early computers and theorised about artificial intelligence.
Turing was prosecuted for “gross indecency” in 1952 for having a same-sex relationship, when homosexuality was illegal in the UK, and he was chemically castrated. He was posthumously pardoned by the Queen in 2013.
Turing was chosen as the face of the new polymer bank note following “the bank’s character selection process” which includes seeking advice from scientific experts, per a Bank of England statement. In 2018, the Banknote Character Advisory Committee decided the field of science should be celebrated on the £50 note, and a six-week public nomination process ensued. The Bank says it received 227,299 nominations in total before deciding a shortlist of 12 contenders, which were then put to the governor, who made the final selection.
Other shortlisted individuals who were considered include Stephen Hawking, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, Dorothy Hodgkin, William Herschel and Caroline Herschel, among many others.
The bank note is expected to enter circulation in 2021.