Chancellor George Osborne has announced that the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science, supported by a £42 million fund announced back in March, is to be based at the British Library as part of the so-called 'Knowledge Quarter.'
Named for the famous polymath who helped shorten World War II by developing a computer system capable of cracking the German Enigma cipher, the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science was announced in March but has only found a home this week. According to Osborne, its position at the British Library will place it in the 'Knowledge Quarter,' an area of London formed by a partnership of some 35 organisations based in and around King's Cross and Euston.
The new facility shares the partnership with companies including Google, University College London and the Francis Crick Institute. During the announcement speech last night, Osborne stated 'I think it is a fitting tribute to his name and memory that here, in the centre of our capital, there is an institute that is named after him.
Turing was famously hounded by the government for his sexuality, being forced to undergo chemical castration following his prosecution for homosexuality in 1952 - a crime at the time - despite his considerable contributions to the war effort and science in general. Two years later, Turing died of cyanide poisoning - ruled a suicide by inquest, but claimed by his mother to be accidental ingestion of chemicals he had been experimenting with at the time. Gordon Brown, prime minister at the time, apologised for his treatment at the hands of the government of the day in 2009, while Turing - but, it must be noted, not others who had been prosecuted under the same law - was granted a posthumous pardon by the queen in 2013.
While the British Library and UK government have applauded the decision to base the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science in the 'Knowledge Quarter' of London, others
have argued that it would have made more sense to locate the facility somewhere more readily associated with his life and work such as Maida Vale, Cheshire, Manchester, or Bletchley, where he worked in secret during the war.