It now seems evident that Turing, Britain's almost forgotten genius, may have been nearly single-handedly responsible for the shape of the modern world, as well as aiding the end of the last war. Had he lived he may have been able to have jump-started a new industrial revolution. Google now says "without Alan Turing we would never have had Google, we would never have had the whole IT revolution; all the principles of computing go back to Alan Turing". So all modern computing: internet, mobile phones, laptops, email, Facebook, YouTube etc are a result of ideas published in his 1936 paper which showed how the manipulation of binary code using a series of simple logical operations could be put to an infinite number of uses, from computing prime numbers to forecasting the weather! No other technology has enriched more people more quickly in less than a generation. Turing thought that one day computers would become common and small enough to be carried around.
Of course the development of computing would have happened without Turing, but it would have happened later and far more slowly. It is fascinating to ponder what might have happened if he had lived - and such a shame his own life was so wasted. Like Oscar Wilde dying in his 40s in 1900 - if he had lived to enjoy old age he would have been a media star on radio and film, so too one can imagine an older Turing a flamboyant, confident pundit on television and perhaps the founder of a British Google or Apple ? but this brilliant, charming, odd, driven workaholic had a different fate. At least he is now being celebrated.