GCHQ Director Iain Lobban pays tribute to codebreaker Alan Turing
GCHQ DIRECTOR Iain Lobban tonight delivered a speech in tribute to cryptanalyst and mathematician Alan Turing entitled ‘GCHQ and Turing’s Legacy’ at the University of Leeds.
Alan Mathison Turing was a cryptanalyst and computer scientist who is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.
During the Second World War he worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park and designed techniques for breaking German ciphers, including those encrypted using the Enigma machine.
This year marks the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth which will be celebrated by numerous events across the country.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Forming part of a programme of events to mark the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth, the speech celebrated the achievements of GCHQ’s forerunner the Government Code and Cypher School, encompassing Alan Turing’s contribution to the wartime code-breaking effort at Bletchley Park, including the cracking of Enigma.
Iain Lobban, an alumnus of the University of Leeds, also spoke of Turing's legacy to today's GCHQ, including the values and ethos which attracted and nurtured talent in the past and which continue to be relevant today in the cyber age.
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, Professor Michael Arthur said: "It is a tremendous honour to welcome back Iain, one of our most successful alumni. It is fitting too that he has chosen to return to Leeds to give this lecture - the university has an outstanding reputation in mathematics and computer sciences, and Alan Turing's contribution to these subjects remains unsurpassed."
The transcript of the speech is as follows:
GCHQ and Turing’s Legacy:
Of all the things we know about Alan Turing’s life, one of the facts that shines out most brightly is that he had nothing to do with Leeds. He wasn’t born here; he didn’t study here; he didn’t work here. He never tiptoed home to a Hall of Residence intent on not waking the neighbours after a late night at the Union. He never read the Yorkshire Evening Post. So why here? Why now?
The “why now?” question is easily answered: this year represents the centenary of Turing’s birth, and a large number of events which have marked this centenary, celebrating aspects of his life, his work, his genius.
The answer to “why here?” is more paradoxical. At a simple level, it is partly because Professor Barry Cooper, Professor of Pure Mathematics here, has been Chair of the Turing Centenary Advisory Committee, and I want to make a point of recognising the hard work and dedication with which he has approached this task. It’s also because I studied at Leeds – one of over a hundred graduates of this University to go on to have a career at GCHQ.
But I want to discuss GCHQ and Turing in Leeds precisely because there is no direct connection here to a particular phase in Alan Turing’s life. I want to make sure that I don’t try to claim Turing as “ours”. He doesn’t belong to GCHQ or Bletchley Park; he doesn’t belong to King’s College, or to Manchester University.
And beyond anything I will say, beyond all of the events Professor Cooper has godfathered this year, Turing lives on in the creative imagination of writers, not just Robert Harris’s Enigma, in which a Turing-like mathematician at Bletchley has to face the real world which lies behind the messages he has been treating as theoretical problems, but also Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, a science fiction novel which links Turing’s Bletchley to a modern world of secure data havens, and even in the current ITV drama the Bletchley Circle, about the brilliant minds of a generation.
I will talk a lot about what Alan Turing means to GCHQ, about his legacy to us in the way we work, and the way we think about our work today, but I want to stress that crucial as his work in intelligence was, it was only one aspect of the life of one of the great minds of the twentieth century.
Government Code and Cypher School
I’m going to start with some history, to give you a bit of an idea of the organisation Alan Turing joined at the outbreak of war. As we know it today, GCHQ is the part of the public service established by law to intercept communications to protect national security, to safeguard the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom and to support the prevention and detection of serious crime, as well as to ensure that United Kingdom government communications are secure.
The oldest British reference we have to lawful interception of communications dates back to 1324: Edward the Second ordered that all persons entering the kingdom carrying letters should be arrested and their letters sent to the King for examination; but the modern practice of producing intelligence from communications – normally referred to as signals intelligence, or Sigint – dates back to the beginning of the First World War, when large volumes of German radio traffic were noted, and each of the Admiralty and War Office set up small Sigint organisations to deal with this material. At the end of the war on 1 November 1919, the two organisations were merged into the Government Code and Cypher School – G C and C S – and in 1946 we simply changed our name to Government Communications Headquarters, our cover name during World War Two.
The principal difference between then and now is that back in 1919 people used paper-based methods to secure their communications. We have brought a couple of examples of codebooks which you will be able to have a look at afterwards at the Reception. Essentially, letters, words or phrases could be represented by four or five character code groups, which could then in turn be enciphered.
The Code and Cypher School was remarkably successful in this period: with the exception of only two particular targets, every single encryption system used by foreign governments to protect their communications with UK-based representatives was broken and read. The two exceptions were the diplomatic services of Germany and the Soviet Union, each of which had learned of British cryptanalytic success, and each of which began to use one time pads correctly, which meant that their encoded messages could therefore not be broken. Palaeographers: people used to pulling together shreds of documents discovered by archaeologists; classicists: people used to establishing putative readings for texts of which there might be multiple and different fragments; and linguists: people who spoke the language and had some insight into the mind and culture of those using enciphered messages; all combined to work out how the codebooks were constructed and used.
Then, in 1925, a German invention was patented in London. The inventor wanted to try to sell his invention in the UK but the Allied Control Commission in Germany was making it difficult for him to do so. The invention was the Enigma machine, the world’s first successful electromechanical encryption device.
You have probably all seen the Hollywood version of the Enigma story: the films showing heroic sailors leaping onto sinking German submarines to recover their Enigma machines: the truth around the initial acquisition is a little more prosaic.
In 1926, the Deputy Director of GC and CS, Edward Travis – who later became Director of GCHQ – went to Berlin and obtained an Enigma machine by the simple expedient of going to the manufacturing company and buying one. Enigma was not originally designed as a military device: its aim was to speed up commercial transactions by allowing details of them to be sent telegraphically, instead of in hard copy by courier.
Back at the Code and Cypher School, cryptanalyst Hugh Foss diagnosed the encryption system used in the commercial Enigma, and showed how vulnerable it was to cryptanalysis. Another veteran cryptanalyst, Dilly Knox, then took over and developed a suite of techniques for breaking variants of the original commercial Enigma. When communications encrypted on a modified Enigma – sent by Hitler to Franco for use in the Spanish Civil War – were intercepted, Knox broke it in April 1937, just five months after Hitler’s gift had arrived in Spain. Earlier this year, I took part in a ceremony at the Spanish Army Museum in Toledo during which, and largely through the good offices of my Spanish opposite number, I was presented with two of these Enigma machines, for display at the Bletchley Park Museum and at our Headquarters in Cheltenham.
Knox’s work was a tremendous feat but would not be enough by itself because the German military were using a much more complex family of Enigma machines than the modified commercial model that Knox had broken. The Code and Cypher School learned in 1938 of the work that Poland had been doing to get into military Enigma. The Poles had taken a different path to the British and had recruited mathematicians, rather than classicists, to become their cryptanalysts.
The Arrival of Turing and colleagues…
It was this information which crystallised a crucial insight by Alasdair Denniston, the Director of the Code and Cypher School, and a veteran of cryptanalysis in the First World War: he had already worked out that the forthcoming war and the profusion of mechanical encryption devices needed a new sort of cryptanalyst to complement the existing staff. He decided to look out wartime colleagues who had returned in 1919 and 1920 to the Universities (well, to Oxford and Cambridge) and asked them to identify what he described as “men of the professor type”, academics engaged in mathematical research who could be persuaded to turn their hands to cryptanalysis. In the first list of names drawn up in response to his request we can see the hint of what was to come: Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman and Max Newman.
Turing was, without doubt the keenest of the three and attended a series of taster sessions and short courses in early 1939, promising to report to Bletchley Park – already earmarked as the war station for the Code and Cypher School – on the outbreak of war.
(Another prospective employee was JRR Tolkien: he was marked out by staff as “keen” but in the event, his services were not called on, perhaps because on 3 September 1939 the UK declared war on Germany, not Mordor.)
As far as we know Turing kept no diaries during the war so much of our knowledge of what he does comes from surviving official documents or from later reminiscences. What is certain is that he reported to Bletchley Park as agreed and immediately started working with Knox in one of the cottages there. Knox’s influence on Turing at this time is immense. The older veteran cryptanalyst shared everything he knew about Enigma with Turing, who eventually used this knowledge to write the first four chapters of his treatise on Enigma: what became known at Bletchley, and then to succeeding generations of cryptanalysts, simply as “Prof’s Book”.
“Prof’s Book” is what Top Gear’s James May described succinctly as a Haynes Manual for Enigma cryptanalysis, when he was shown a copy at Bletchley Park earlier this year: it explains in simple terms, but in all the detail necessary, how a cryptanalyst approaches an Enigma machine.
This is an opportunity to draw out the first of what we might think of as the lessons to identify from Turing’s career in Sigint: he was happy to learn from Dilly Knox, happy to use that knowledge as the foundation for what he would develop subsequently, and was diligent in recording what he had learned and how he developed that into new areas so that others could profit from his knowledge just as he had profited from that of Knox.
Knox could only take Turing so far and his quest for experience-based understanding of the cryptanalysis of Enigma took Turing to France in January 1940 where, at the invitation of our French equivalents, he met the cryptanalysts who had escaped from Poland when it was overrun.
The mutual admiration between the battle scarred Polish mathematicians and their young British counterpart was palpable, and the Poles present at the meeting remembered it vividly. It is important to be aware of how much we can learn by sharing knowledge with allies, not least simply by bringing specialists together. The friendship and familiarity which grows up between specialists from different nations produces real synergy, an overused word, but one entirely appropriate for this case, as the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts.
Before we move on from this period, it’s worth reflecting on another aspect of Turing’s early days at Bletchley Park: he asked to be given Naval Enigma as his problem. The German Navy used Enigma in a more sophisticated way than anybody else making it the hardest cryptanalytic problem facing Bletchley Park. What attracted Turing was, first, that the problem was so complex, but second, and just as important, that the problem could be his. This isn’t to say that he was being selfish, or that he wanted the kudos which would come from a successful solution of the problem; rather, that he saw that he could encompass the whole of the problem and get closer to a solution alone than as part of a team which broke the unity of the problem by separating it into different constituent parts.
One of the reasons for the success of Bletchley Park, and something that I and Alasdair Denniston’s other successors have striven to maintain in GCHQ, is the organisation’s ability to make space to allow individuals to flourish, both in isolation, and within teams. I will be talking more about the importance of recognising and making space for the unique and different contribution that each person makes, but part of that recognition can often involve a leap of faith by the manager.
Bringing Technology to bear
But if I had to single out one piece of Turing’s legacy to GCHQ today, it would be the way that his contribution was part of the irrevocable change that turned the Code and Cypher School from being the mainly cryptanalytic bureau it was between the wars to becoming the highly technological intelligence organisation that GCHQ is today.
The development of the Bombe shows Turing’s ability to absorb somebody else’s best idea and to take it so much further that it becomes his. The Poles had developed a machine to speed up the process of discovering the message settings used for a particular message. Turing’s consideration of this Polish invention took him down a different path. He realised that it was much easier to disprove a bad hypothesis than to prove a good one, and that by rejecting enough bad hypotheses, valuable analyst time could be concentrated on working manually on the messages most susceptible to being broken.
This could work because of the way Bletchley Park used cribs. Cribs are the hypothesis about the plaintext underlying the cipher text, for example postulating that a message will begin with a From address and a To address. Cribs could be accurate because of the immense amount of work which went into traffic analysis: the process of developing an understanding of German communications networks which was good enough to be able to predict the nature and the content of messages being sent before the actual encrypted text had been broken, for example recognising that a cluster of urgent messages to a group of ships indicated that they were about to put to sea. This development was a major transformation: the understanding of enemy communications which Bletchley Park needed to support cryptanalysis generated a whole separate service of predictive intelligence, a contribution to the war effort as great as that of the actual message content it was decrypting.
And the willingness with which the cryptanalysts embraced the mechanisation of part of their work led to a more widespread and wholehearted adoption of a technological mindset which, as Her Majesty the Queen said when unveiling a memorial at Bletchley Park last year, started to see technology as something that could be pitted against technology.
At the same time, Turing himself had changed, had transformed. The man originally approached in 1938 was a theoretician, somebody who worried about computability and the nature of numbers. But he had now become a “doer”.
The last significant part of Turing’s time at the Code and Cypher School was spent investigating secure speech systems and designing a new one. To us at GCHQ it is self evident that the people best able to design secure communications system are those who are best at finding the weaknesses in other people’s systems and exploiting them.
Turing went to the United States to work with the Americans on this project. For him, of course, it was “back to the United States”, because he had studied for his PhD at Princeton University, but sending him to work on secure speech was a decisive step in expanding UK – US intelligence cooperation beyond a simple cryptanalytic exchange. The significance of sending Turing – one of our greatest minds – to the US moved the relationship towards the close partnership we enjoy today.
Skills, Diversity and Talent
I suppose that what I have said so far sounds a bit like an obituary, or an academic piece of research: it has been all about Turing’s contribution to allied success during the War. I want to think a bit more about the man who achieved so much.
Ever since modern Sigint was founded in 1914, cryptanalysts have been talked about as a race apart. The very earliest description of a group of cryptanalysts at work comes from 1915:
“These were the decipherers and a rummier set of fellows I never came across in all my born days.”
And of course there are many Turing stories: burying his silver bullion and then forgetting where he had buried it; chaining his mug to his radiator; cycling in his gas mask to ward off hay fever; play on a sense of eccentricity. But Turing was not an eccentric, unless you believe that there is only one way of being normal and to be otherwise is to be peculiar. Turing wasn’t eccentric: he was unique.
I strongly believe a Sigint agency needs the widest range of skills possible if it is to be successful, and to deny itself talent just because the person with the talent doesn’t conform to a social stereotype is to starve itself of what it needs to thrive.
And we exploit serendipity too: Geoffrey Tandy was posted to Bletchley by the Admiralty in a spirit of helpfulness: his posting officer had understood him to be an expert in cryptograms, a word still used in the Admiralty at that time to mean messages signalled in code. In fact he was an expert in cryptogams: non-flowering plants like ferns, mosses and seaweeds. While this knowledge might not have appeared to be of much use, Tandy became expert in German naval Enigma and because of his work on seaweed was able to provide unique advice on the preservation of cryptologic documents rescued from the sea.
Part of my job is to continue to foster that atmosphere: to attract the very best people and harness their talents, and not allow preconceptions and stereotypes to stifle innovation and agility. I want to harness the best talent there is not just so that they can be inventive, but so that they can apply themselves to the big issues of intelligence and security which challenge an organisation which simply has to remain at the cutting edge in order to survive and thrive. I want to apply and exploit their talent: in return, I think it’s fair that I don’t need to tell them how to live their lives.
The fact that Turing was unashamedly gay was widely known to his immediate colleagues at Bletchley Park: it wasn’t an issue. I don’t want to pretend that GCHQ was an organisation with twenty-first century values in the twentieth century, but it was at the most tolerant end of the cultural spectrum. In an organisation which valued the skills and characteristics difference can bring, Turing’s homosexuality was less of a talking point than his insights into the complex crypt problems of the day. When he was put on trial, Hugh Alexander, the Head of Cryptanalysis at GCHQ went, with official approval, to speak as a character witness on his behalf, saying in court that Turing was a national asset.
We can’t rewrite the past. We can’t wish mid-twentieth century Britain into a different society with different attitudes. We can be glad that we live in a more tolerant age. And we should remember that the cost of intolerance towards Alan Turing was his loss to the nation.
I will add one more thing which I don’t believe has come out during this centenary year as much as I think it might have: it has become a commonplace to say that “Alan Turing wasn’t a team player” – I want to challenge that. There are lots of different ways in which people can work as part of a team. Turing’s way was to take in other people’s ideas, develop and build on them, and then pass the product on to other people to be the foundation for the next stage. He took the idea of electromechanical processing of Enigma messages from the Poles but developed their idea into something radically different. When Welchman later enhanced the Bombe with his diagonal board, Turing was among the first to congratulate him on this major improvement. Turing was part of the team, and shared in the success of the team.
I’d like to take this further and look at how, in the right environment, the best ideas are inspiring and will drive others forward. It was because of the work already done by Turing that Welchman and Newman became interested in designing and using systems and machines to support cryptanalysis.
Welchman realised that for Bletchley Park to work at industrial scale, close cooperation between all the links of the Sigint chain: intercept operators at stations, traffic analysts, cryptanalysts, linguists, reporters and the ultimate users would be vital. The breakthrough is all very well, but if it can’t be consistently and systematically exploited, then its value can’t be realised. Unfortunately, the last years of Welchman’s life were marred by a bitter dispute with GCHQ about the unauthorised publication of his book about Hut Six, but the importance of his thinking about the way to manage Sigint efficiently cannot be overstated.
Newman was working on the cryptanalysis of enciphered teleprinter, a much more complex and time-consuming problem than Enigma. Newman was good at the work but disliked it. He realised that it should be possible to perform the statistical aspects of their work with the help of rapid, special-purpose, electronic machinery capable of analysing paper tape at speeds of five thousand characters per second. These requirements were brought to solution, not by a mathematician, but by a Post Office Engineer, Tommy Flowers. Flowers’ route was the opposite of the mathematicians’: he was the son of a bricklayer and took evening classes while he was an apprentice in order to get a degree. His background, when he came into contact with Bletchley Park was in switching – in designing telephone exchanges – but he designed and built COLOSSUS. I’m not going to join the argument about whether or not COLOSSUS was the world’s first computer, but the work done in Newman’s section undoubtedly led to modern Information Technology.
These technological achievements built on Turing’s thinking to move wartime Bletchley into being a high tech organisation. This set us inexorably on the path to today’s GCHQ, where technology lies at the very heart of our mission. Engineers and technologists are an essential part of our successes. Like Flowers, they are the people that design and implement a practical application of a theoretical capability. Just as we need brilliant mathematicians and cryptanalysts, we need engineers to bring those brilliant ideas to life.
One of the questions I posed to a couple of the GCHQ people who are here with me this evening is: “What would Turing be doing if he were with us today?” The answer was immediate: “Cyber”. Then, the technological challenge was to stay ahead of the Germans’ use of advanced technology by devising even more advanced technology. Today, our challenges come from the explosion in the volume of communications as well as the relentless increase in new ways of accessing and processing it. Then, code related simply to the encryption of communications; today, code refers to the way in which we program IT systems. Then, the challenge was to identify German and Japanese communications nodes; today, the challenge can simply be to cope with the number of different communications options accessible simultaneously to individuals. Then, the challenge was to secure allied codes and ciphers to prevent the enemy doing to us what we were doing to them; today, securing cyberspace so that the UK and its allies can use it safely to develop e-government and trade and requires the collaboration of experts as diverse both personally and intellectually as any we saw at Bletchley Park.
Bletchley Park was really about exploiting the adversary’s information risk, while minimising our own. Today the Internet provides the virtual global landscape for an analogous struggle.
I also reflect on globalisation: a word often thought of as applying to a modern phenomenon but as equally applied to World War II. State actors then, just as state and non-state actors today, were able to apply pressure and influence simultaneously at different points around the globe, and what we developed was a worldwide network, a web if you like, of Sigint communications to ensure that all the necessary bits of information could be moved as rapidly as possible to the place in the world where they could be exploited to make a difference.
Cyber also throws into sharp relief the need to work in partnership with other countries which share the UK’s values and aims. The predominant partnership which dates from that era is our relationship with the United States, and we are also as close to Australia, Canada and New Zealand today as we were then. But then as now, we have to spread our partnerships beyond that particular grouping. I might also ask you to reflect on the fact that I talk of foreign colleagues as partners: they aren’t our servants or our masters.
Partnering with Academia
Meeting the cyber challenge of today and tomorrow in the face of a ubiquitous and indispensable global communications network will mean collaboration more broadly than just within Government. Industry has a key role to play as we transform how we work to build cyber capacity, in order to enjoy the huge benefits and economic advantages of the internet, at the same time as defending ourselves against the threats.
But I want to focus a little on academia. The creative environment of Bletchley Park in the 30s and 40s, and of GCHQ today, speaks to me about not being prescriptive about where the best ideas come from, and accepting that they can come not just from anywhere in the organisation.
So it is good to see substantive signs of partnering, for example in the recognition of eight UK Universities as Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research – a vital step in nurturing cyber security talent and in fostering cyber innovation through boosting research. And in the establishment of the first academic Research Institute to improve understanding of the science behind cyber security. This targeted investment will allow leading academics in the field of cyber security, including social scientists, mathematicians, psychologists and computer scientists from across the UK to work together in a virtual organisation, hosted by University College London and under Director of Research Professor Angela Sasse. The Research Institute will not only join together different disciplines – it will connect with industry security experts and international researchers in the field.
And we need to reach beyond the University level. We must inspire school children to study maths and science – we must find tomorrow’s Turings. My own organisation has a strong educational outreach programme: our STEM ambassadors support school science projects nationally and a GCHQ father and son team run Maths Masterclasses for children. This year we have linked The Times Cheltenham Science Festival to Bletchley Park, allowing schoolchildren to tweet messages encrypted on an Enigma machine in Cheltenham to the Turing Bombe team at Bletchley who were able to tweet back the decrypts. It’s extraordinary to watch the achievements of the past inspire the generation of tomorrow.
A centenary is a good point at which to take stock, to reflect. Earlier this summer, I was struck, at the unveiling of a memorial to all those who have served in Sigint and communications security at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, about the significance of remembrance. Any organisation, like GCHQ, which is focused on today and tomorrow, runs the risk of losing sight of its yesterday. As the Foreign Secretary said recently, we must draw on our history. We have been happy to provide artefacts and other input to the Turing Centenary Exhibition at the Science Museum in London, which has been generously supported by Google. And we have released the last of the important mathematical papers written by Turing at Bletchley Park to The National Archives at Kew, and, via their internet digitisation programme, to the world.
In the end, we come down to a simple “so what”: in the long term, does anything Turing did in the 1940s still matter? Well, yes it does. At one level, GCHQ mathematicians still use the ban, a unit of measurement originally devised by Turing and Jack Good to weigh the evidence for a hypothesis; standards for secure speech systems take the design of the voice encryption system devised by Turing as their starting point. I could even talk – or perhaps invite one of my mathematicians to talk – about our continuing use of Bayesian statistics to score hypotheses, in the way first developed by Turing and his cryptanalytic colleagues at Bletchley.
At a broader level, his legacy is just as tangible. Through our eyes, Turing was a founder of the Information Age: one of the people whose concepts are at the heart of a technological revolution which is as far reaching as the Industrial Revolution. Throughout the post-war era, we continued to enjoy the benefits of the abstract Turing machine model, from our 1980s washing machines to the mini computers we carry in our pockets today. Turing was part of a revolution which has led to a transformation of every aspect of our lives.
And the ethos that Turing and the other mathematicians introduced into the Code and Cypher School continued beyond the catalyst of war into modern GCHQ too: use whatever tools you have; if there’s a chance, go for it; foster unconstrained blue sky thinking to solve real problems. We don’t just enjoy the intellectual stimulation of puzzles: we enjoy solving them for a purpose.
A little known example of this is the work of three members of GCHQ staff, James Ellis, Clifford Cocks and Malcolm Williamson on communications security. As early as 1975 they had developed the ingenious mathematical concept of Public Key Cryptography. And that now forms the basis of almost all of the security products in use on the Internet.
The past may not be an absolute guide to the present, but there are enduring lessons learned which we continue to focus on today. Not least for me is that any organisation is the sum of its people. In GCHQ, as at the Code and Cypher School and Bletchley Park, many people serve silently but are responsible for both brilliant ideas and the application of those ideas into real life solutions which ultimately have protected – and continue to protect – the UK’s national security.
There are many parallels between the way we work now and the way we worked then: our workforce is as diverse, as questioning, as dedicated, as was theirs. Our mission has technology at its heart: we are driven by technological change as much as Bletchley Park ever was. And the integration and transformation of our intelligence and security mission is as important to me as it was to my predecessor of the day. We continue to be driven by inspiration, innovation and partnerships, just as in Turing’s day.
I was also struck by the expectation of my staff that I would be doing something for the Turing Centenary. Their attitude wasn’t so much: “I suppose you’ll have to get involved”, but rather “we want to see you making a big public deal of this”. I said right at the start of this talk that I don’t want anybody to think that we are trying to claim that Turing is ours and nobody else’s; but equally, I want to highlight just how incredibly proud people at GCHQ are of our association with him.
Let me conclude, though, by looking at Denniston, the Director in 1938 who saw Turing and accepted him as a new type of cryptanalyst for a new era. Obviously my job, like his, is to make sure that all of the wonderfully talented people we have retain their focus on the task set out for GCHQ by the government. But what drives me, what will make me feel that I have in a small way achieved a little of what he did, comes from focusing not just on the outputs and achievements of GCHQ, but on fostering, protecting and developing a culture which prizes passion and dedication, in which today’s and tomorrow’s Turings can achieve as much as the genius, the man Alan Turing did.
For more information please visit the Turing 2012 website