The Association for Computing Machinery announced Thursday winners of the A.M. Turing Award will now take home four times as much prize money: $1 million, thanks to new backing from Google. It’s yet another boon to the industry and the award itself, which is seen by many in the field as computer science’s answer to the Nobel Prize.
Previous recipients of the Turing Award haven’t been household names. Computer science doesn’t have a Neil deGrasse Tyson, the kind of scientist and communicator who crosses over into the mainstream to raise awareness and interest in a field. But in a world that today mourns a mathematician who likely inspired many in computing, and where a major motion picture about the life of Alan Turing is expected to win multiple film industry awards, it’s not hard to imagine a computer scientist becoming a pop culture figure. Making computer science as valuable as other fields, in all uses of the word, can only speed up that process.