Alan Turing

Julian Sanchez, writing at the Dish:

Reading this on a computer screen? Thank Alan Turing. Not reading it in German? Thank Alan Turing again. Turing’s theoretical work in the 30s laid the foundations for computer science; his more hands-on efforts as a codebreaker at Britain’s Bletchley Park helped ensure that the Allies could read enciphered Nazi messages. Turing’s reward for these services to his country—and species—was to be prosecuted for “gross indecency” after naively disclosing his homosexuality to police. He was subjected to chemical castration, had his security clearance revoked, and within two years took his own life by swallowing cyanide.

Now, more than half a century later, a British computer scientist has launched a campaign to secure a formal apology and posthumous pardon for Turing. It would be a small and purely symbolic gesture, but it seems like an appropriate one. Readers who hail from that side of the pond can join more than 24,000 signatories on a petition to the Prime Minister.

I don’t know anything about Alan Turning, Turing – but that is a fascinating, and terrible story of genius and injustice.  I plan to dig deeper.

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8 thoughts on “Alan Turing

  1. As a tech guy, I pretty much owe my job to Alan Turing. A truly great man who got a raw deal. Interesting (or not) fact: the most prestigious award in computer science research is named after Turing.

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  2. It is difficult to overstate Turing’s role in the development of computer science. As Lev notes, the Nobel equivalent in the field is called the Turing Award. If you take an intro course in computer theory, much of it will be based on his work. He was a unique genius, and I hope every British computer scientist and mathematician signs the petition.

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