“A Great science fiction detective story”
– Ian Watson, author of The Universal Machine
Days to Centenary: 93
On account of inconsistent announcements regarding the closing date of the Great Turing Tenner Showdown, entries will now be accepted until midnight, London time, April 15.
Yet another petition is circulating with regard to Alan Turing.
This one proposes that the computer pioneer and war hero — not to mention recently-vindicated biological theorist — be honoured by having his image on the £10 note, where Charles Darwin currently resides.
The petition — which at this writing has 6,893 signatures and can be found here — reads as follows:
Put Alan Turing on the next £10 note
Responsible department: Her Majesty’s Treasury
Alan Turing is a national hero. His contribution to computer science, and hence to the life of the nation and the world, is incalculable. The ripple-effect of his theories on modern life continues to grow, and may never stop.
The current Bank of England £10 notes are Series E, but Series F notes are already in circulation for some denominations. We therefore call upon the Treasury to request the Bank of England to consider depicting Alan Turing when Series F £10 banknotes are designed.
Like the petitions for an apology and for a pardon before it, the tenner petition has received a fair bit of play in the media (see here for instance), and on specialty web sites (like this one devoted to information technology).
Now, the petition gives a perfectly reasonable explanation of why Turing should be honoured. What it doesn’t say, and what I haven’t seen commented upon anywhere else, is why the ten pound note in particular should be the appropriate one to bear his image.
It’s obvious if you think about it: unlike the £20 or £50 note, the £10 note has a denomination made up exclusively of ones and zeroes, just like the binary numbers used by computers.
Of course, I immediately began to wonder what a Turing tenner would look like. I’m just a shade above total crap with Photoshop, but I gave it a shot. Here’s my version, showing a smiling Turing against a field of ones and zeroes.
Now, there has to be someone out there in Turing-land who’s better at Photoshop than me, and maybe that someone is you, so here’s my offer.
Right now I have an crowdfunding campaign over at IndieGoGo.com to help finance the publication of my novel, Luck and Death at the Edge of the World, in which Alan Turing makes an appearance of sorts (an AI must be temporarily be instantiated into a synthetic human body and chooses to use a likeness of Turing).
People on IndieGoGo who like the download can buy a copy of the book in advance and get various extra stuff that won’t be included with the commercial version of the book. It’s a way for writers, filmmakers, and others to raise money for their projects while ensuring that the people who contribute get something worthwhile back.
There are different levels of contribution, starting at US$5.00, and as people go up the levels they get more and better stuff, so here’s what I’m going to do.
The person who designs the best Turing Tenner — as decided by me — and emails me the image will get for free a package from my IndieGoGo campaign that would normally require a $20.00 contribution, which means you get:
A special edition ebook of the novel that includes The Fictional Life of Alan Turing, a look at Turing’s ongoing existence in novels and short stories by science fiction superstars like Rudy Rucker, Greg Egan, and Harry Harrison and scientists-turned-author like Marvin Minsky and Janna Levin
The Science and Fiction of Luck and Death, a look at some of the real-life science behind the story incuding present-day cybernetic technology;
Two short stories, which will be issued as stand-alone ebooks for sale in 2012, set in the same world as Luck and Death, and
The next novel in the series, In the Empire of the Monkey King.
I will also post their tenner on The Turing Centenary.
So first hustle over to the petition (if you’re a UK resident) and sign up to make the Turing Tenner a reality.
Then, no matter where you live, break out your Photoshop (or the graphics program of your choice) and give it a shot. Design the best Turing Tenner and get the $20.00 package above for free. I’ll accept designs until midnight London time on March 31, 2012.
And if you don’t win, or if you’re as bad at Photoshop as I am, you can still get some cool stuff over at my IndieGoGo page, starting at only $5.00, which gets you the novel and The Fictional Life of Alan Turing.
Let the Turing Tenner showdown begin!