Facebook donates £1m to help save Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park like many other visitor attractions has been hit hard since COVID-19 started in March 2020. The site had to close for a short period, and although it is now re open again visitor numbers have to be limited. This has caused severe financial problems for the organisation that runs Bletchley Park, many job cuts were planned.

A £1m donation from Facebook has helped save some jobs at the Bletchley Park wartime coding centre in Milton Keynes.

Bletchley Park was vital to Allied victory in World War Two. The Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) devised methods to enable the Allied forces to decipher the military codes and ciphers that secured German, Japanese, and other Axis nation’s communications. This produced vital intelligence in support of Allied military operations on land, at sea and in the air. Bletchley Park also heralded the birth of the information age with the industrialisation of the codebreaking processes enabled by machines such as the Turing/Welchman Bombe, and the world’s first electronic computer, Colossus.

At the end of the War the expertise developed at Bletchley Park was taken forward in the organisation known now as the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). This highly efficient intelligence-gathering machine is aided by the special relationship with America, the genesis of which came from collaboration at Bletchley Park. Today Bletchley Park is a heritage site designed to preserve the uniquely important story of these Codebreakers during WW2.

In a statement Facebook said :-

There are a few reasons why we feel so lucky to be involved in this. Firstly, Facebook simply would not exist today if not for Bletchley Park. The work of its most brilliant scientist, Alan Turing, still inspires our tens of thousands of engineers and research scientists today, and is foundational to the entire field of computing, which has and will continue to shape the lives of billions of people.

Secondly, the UK is like a second home for us. It’s where more than 3,000 Facebook employees — half of them in engineering and technology roles — work on building the future each day. It’s impossible to separate the legacy of Bletchley Park from the UK’s ecosystem of scientific excellence that Facebook is fortunate to be part of. Just one example of this is Facebook research scientist and UCL professor Peter O’Hearn, who has developed new theories about program correctness and incorrectness that build on foundations laid by Turing way back in 1949. Those theories were applied during the development of Infer, an open source tool used to improve millions of lines of code at Facebook. 

Duncan Newell

Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

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