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European innovation policy needs crises, not abstractions

Jonathan Wareham asks what lessons EU policy makers can draw from the power of war to spur leaps in science and technology.

The status of Alan Turing, whose centenary was celebrated this June, as the father of computing rests in large part on his work at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. There, as part of a massive team of mathematicians, linguists, sociologists and other scientists, he helped lay the foundations of computer science and artificial intelligence, and made substantial contributions to cryptology, information theory, statistics and telecommunications.

What spurred these advances? The German U-boats that were sinking Allied ships in the North Atlantic pretty much at will. Cracking German military codes was a question of national survival.

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