TODpix, in conjunction with Story Center Productions and Furnace, has announced the U.S. Premiere of CODEBREAKER, a unique new film about British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing—focusing not just on his role in World War II and his accomplishments that led to the computer revolution; but how his own country turned against him due to his homosexuality even after his work virtually turned the tide of the war.
Alan Turing is a titan of the computer science revolution and a major player in the turning points of World War II when it comes to encryption and computer intelligence. Being able to hide communication and transmissions from the enemy—while still broadcasting in the open—meant knowing how to properly code those transmissions; conversely, being able to “listen in” by breaking those codes became a high priority for Allied forces during World War II. Codes and codebreaking during wartime has a long and honorable tradition of cryptographers on both sides of many conflicts.
CODEBREAKER tells the story of one of the most important people of the 20th century. Alan Turing set in motion the computer age and his World War II codebreaking helped save two million lives. Yet few people have heard his name, know his tragic story, or understand his legacy. In 1954, Turing committed suicide at age 41 after being forced to undergo chemical castration to “fix” his sexual orientation. He left behind a lasting legacy and lingering questions about what else he might have accomplished if society had embraced his unique genius instead of rejecting it.
During the war, Turing Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park and he is well known for helping break German ciphers and developing a machine that could find settings for the famous Enigma machine—an encoding device for communications. His influence was not great enough for his memory to become part of the modern psyche, like individuals such as Einstein, but he impressed and influenced many modern computer scientists and science fiction writers.
He is considered a pioneer in the field of artificial intellegence.
Most people only know about Alan Turning because of the “Turing Test,” which is a subjective analysis of how effective at pretending to be human an artificial intelligence happens to be. Anyone who reads or watches enough science fiction has heard about the Turing Test and how it’s used to determine if an artificial intelligence has become advanced enough to successfully pass as another human during a blinded study.
However, there’s also a mathematical concept that lay beneath all modern computer science called the Turning machine. Not at all related to artificial intelligence, is actually the basic form of modern computing described by Turing as “a device that manipulates symbols on a strip of tape according to a table of rules,” and as a result of using symbols and rules could be used to simulate any logic set based on machine intelligence. An obvious extension of the concept behind Ada Lovelace’s and Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
Marketed as a drama-documentary, CODEBREAKER attends to Alan Turing’s accomplishments, the tragedy of his persecution under British law, and all the things that went into his life and how it affected history afterwards. The film is directed by Emmy Award winner Clare Beavan whose credits include Daphne, Simon Schama’s Power of Art, and Imagine: a Love Story.
If you’d like to know more about this film—and Alan Turing in general and his influence on modern computer science—you can visit the film’s website.
It will be showing in Washington, DC tomorrow, October 17; in New York City, NY, October 25; and San Francisco, CA November 1. Times and tickets are dwindling—but likelihood is that popularity and interest will bring it to other cities across the U.S. so be sure to check your local listings and sign up at the website.