The Sound of Science

Fridays 9am – Sheffield Live! – 93.2FM

Show 65 first broadcast on 29th Aug. 2009


Artificial Intelligence special

This week’s programme is an AI special brought on by news this week of a call for the goverment to apologise for the odious treatment of the Alan Turing the Grandfather of Artificial Intelligence. I discuss Turing’s importance with the petitioner Dr. John Graham-Cumming, we have a word about the Turing Test from AI guru Professor Yorick Wilkes and I interview the founding father of AI, Professor John McCarthy.

An apology for the treatment of Turing?


This week saw the launch of a petition to the UK goverment asking for an apology for the treatment of the great Alan Turing. Turing who, as well as being credited with shortening WWII with the code breaking enigma machine, gave us  foundations of computer science – the Turing machine. He was also instrumental in the development of Artificial Intelligence – although he did not use that term. He made the separation of intelligence (the computer programme) from the machine.

As a reward for his great efforts, he was prosecuted for being homosexual (gross indecency) and given the choice of imprisonment or forced female hormone injections. He chose the latter and committed suicide two years later.

I interivewed the petitioner, Dr John Graham-Cumming about the importance of Turing and why he created the petition. If you feel moved by this story, you can sigh the petition at

AI guru Professor Yorick Wilks (Oxford Internet Institute) explains the Turing test.

The man who named AI


About a year ago, I had the good fortune to interview Professor John McCarthy from Stanford University now in his 80s. If Turing is the Grandfather of AI, McCarthy is its Dad. He created the term for the Darmouth AI conference in 1956. In this excerpt from the interview I asked him when he first thought about intelligent computers, why he called the subject Artificial Intelligence and whether it has lived up to his dream.

On Next Week’s Show

A little more history next week (we are usually more of a news programme).

We have a celebration of the 50th anniversay of the hovercraft and then a fresh look at the Mark I computer (1948). I talk to one of the original programmers and then the man who has created an emulation of the Mark I  to reconstruct the first AI text generator, “Love Letters”.


August 27, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Noel,

    Great news on the Turing apology! Love the show: great range of topics and interviews but I especially enjoyed this one.

    Comment by Tom | September 16, 2009 | Reply

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