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WWII Code Breaker Buried in Nebraska with UK Military Honors 

OMAHA, Neb. — A 92-year-old woman has been buried in Nebraska with British military honors for a secret that she held for decades: her World War II service as a code breaker of German intelligence communications.

The Union Jack was draped over Jean Briggs Watters’ casket during her burial Monday, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Watters died Sept. 15.

The tribute honored Watters for her role decoding for a top-secret military program led by British mathematician Alan Turing, who was the subject of the 2014 Oscar-winning film “The Imitation Game .”

Pallbearers move the casket of Jean Watters for her funeral at the Omaha National Cemetery in Omaha, Neb., on Sept. 24, 2018. Watters was part of the super-secret team that broke the German ENIGMA code during World War II. CHRIS MACHIAN/OMAHA WORLD-HERALD VIA AP

Pallbearers move the casket of Jean Watters for her funeral at the Omaha National Cemetery in Omaha, Neb., on Sept. 24, 2018. Watters was part of the super-secret team that broke the German ENIGMA code during World War II. CHRIS MACHIAN/OMAHA WORLD-HERALD VIA AP

Watters was among about 10,000 people, mostly women, who participated in the Allied effort to crack German communication codes throughout the war. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sacré Bleu! Move to Name Paris Street After Steve Jobs has French Leftists Freaking Out

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The local district mayor wants to call one of several new streets around the vast Halle Freyssinet high-tech startup hub the ‘Rue Steve Jobs’ in honor of America’s best-known Capitalist. 

PARIS (Reuters) – Geert De Clercq reports: A proposal to name a street after the late Apple Inc chief executive and co-founder Steve Jobs has divided the leftist city council of a Paris district.

“Steve Jobs was chosen because of his impact on the development of personal computing and because he was a real entrepreneur.”

— Spokeswoman for mayor Jerome Coumet

The local district mayor wants to call one of several new streets around the vast Halle Freyssinet high-tech startup hub the “Rue Steve Jobs” in honor of the U.S. inventor of the iPhone who died in 2011.

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“The choice of Steve Jobs is misplaced in light of the heritage he has left behind.”

— Communist local councillors

But Green and Communist local councillors in Paris’s 13th district don’t like the idea because of Apple’s social and fiscal practices.

“Steve Jobs was chosen because of his impact on the development of personal computing and because he was a real entrepreneur,” said a spokeswoman for mayor Jerome Coumet, defending the proposal.

She said other streets would be named after British computer scientist and code-breaker Alan Turing, UK mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, US naval officer and computer programming pioneer Grace Murray Hopper and French civil engineer Eugene Freyssinet, who invented pre-stressed concrete.

Leftist councillors are not impressed however by Jobs’ reputation and heritage. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] The Pilot ACE Computer, Designed by Turing, at the National Physical Laboratory

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Walter Isaacson on the Lessons of Alan Turing: How Creativity Drives Machines

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Walter Isaacson writes: We live in the age of computers, but few of us know who invented them. Because most of the pioneers were part of collaborative teams working in wartime secrecy, they aren’t as famous as an Edison, Bell or Morse. But one genius, the English mathematician Alan Turing, stands out as a heroic-tragic figure, and he’s about to get his due in a new movie, “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which won the top Alan-Turing-portraitaward at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month and will open in theaters in November.

“He also wrestled with the issue of free will: Are our personal preferences and impulses all predetermined and programmed, like those of a machine?”

The title of the movie refers to a test that Turing thought would someday show that machines could think in ways indistinguishable from humans. His belief in the potential of artificial intelligence stands in contrast to the school of thought that argues that the combined talents of humans and computers, working together as partners, will always be more creative than computers working alone.

Despite occasional breathless headlines, the quest for pure artificial intelligence has so far proven disappointing. But the alternative approach of connecting humans and machines more intimately continues to produce astonishing innovations. As the movie about him shows, Alan Turing’s own deeply human personal life serves as a powerful counter to the idea that there is no fundamental distinction between the human mind and artificial intelligence.

[Check out Walter Isaacson’s book “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution” at Amazon.com]

Turing, who had the cold upbringing of a child born on the fraying fringe of the British gentry, displayed a innovatorstrait that is common among innovators. In the words of his biographer Andrew Hodges, he was “slow to learn that indistinct line that separated initiative from disobedience.”

He taught himself early on to keep secrets. At boarding school, he realized he was homosexual, and he became infatuated with a classmate who died of tuberculosis before they graduated. During World War II, he became a leader of the teams at Bletchley Park, England, that built machines to break the German military codes.

Feeling the need to hide both his sexuality and his code-breaking work, Turing often found himself playing an imitation game by pretending to be things he wasn’t. He also wrestled with the issue of free will: Are our personal preferences and impulses all predetermined and programmed, like those of a machine?

These questions came together in a paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” that Turing published in 1950. With a schoolboy’s sense of fun, he invented a game—one that is still being played and debated—to give meaning to the question, “Can machines think?” He proposed a purely empirical definition of artificial intelligence: If the output of a machine is indistinguishable from that of a human brain, then we have no meaningful reason to insist that the machine isn’t “thinking.”

Colossus, the world's first electronic programmable computer, at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, England. Bletchley Park was the British forces' intelligence center during WWII, where cryptographers deciphered top-secret military communiques between Hitler and his armed forces. The communiques were encrypted in the Lorenz code which the Germans considered unbreakable, but the codebreakers at Bletchley cracked the code with the help of Colossus. SSPL/Getty Images

Colossus, the world’s first electronic programmable computer, at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, England. Bletchley Park was the British forces’ intelligence center during WWII, where cryptographers deciphered top-secret military communiques between Hitler and his armed forces. The communiques were encrypted in the Lorenz code which the Germans considered unbreakable, but the codebreakers at Bletchley cracked the code with the help of Colossus. SSPL/Getty Images

His test, now usually called the Turing Test, was a simple imitation game. An interrogator sends written questions to a human and a machine in another room and tries to determine which is which. If the output of a machine is indistinguishable from that of a human brain, he argued, then it makes no sense to deny that the machine is “thinking.” Read the rest of this entry »


Computer Becomes First to Pass Turing Test in Artificial Intelligence Milestone

But Academics Warn of Dangerous Future

odebreaker Alan Turing devised a test in 1950, saying that if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was 'thinking'. Photograph: Sherborne School/AFP/Getty Images

Codebreaker Alan Turing devised a test in 1950, saying that if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was ‘thinking’. Photograph: Sherborne School/AFP/Getty Images

Eugene Goostman, a computer program pretending to be a young Ukrainian boy, successfully duped enough humans to pass the iconic test

For The IndependentAndrew Griffin A program that convinced humans that it was a 13-year-old boy has become the first computer ever to pass the Turing Test. The test — which requires that computers are indistinguishable from humans — is considered a landmark in the development of artificial intelligence, but academics have warned that the technology could be used for cybercrime.

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Computing pioneer Alan Turing said that a computer could be understood to be thinking if it passed the test, which requires that a computer dupes 30 per cent of human interrogators in five-minute text conversations.

“In the field of Artificial Intelligence there is no more iconic and controversial milestone than the Turing Test, when a computer convinces a sufficient number of interrogators into believing that it is not a machine but rather is a human.”

Eugene Goostman, a computer program made by a team based in Russia, succeeded in a test conducted at the Royal Society in London. It convinced 33 per cent of the judges that it was human, said academics at the University of Reading, which organised the test.

It is thought to be the first computer to pass the iconic test. Though other programm have claimed successes, those included set topics or questions in advance. Read the rest of this entry »