Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A call for an apology to Alan Turing

In 1952, World War II code-breaking hero and the father of computing Alan Turing was convicted of that most heinous of crimes, being born a homosexual.

Following Turing's prosecution he was further humiliated by having his security privileges withdrawn and by being chemically castrated, then an experimental "treatment", for his non-existent illness. Turing committed suicide in 1954.

There is an online petition to the Prime Minister calling for an apology to Turing and a posthumous pardon. There are currently 30,327 signatories, including myself. The petition reads:

"Alan Turing was the greatest computer scientist ever born in Britain. He laid the foundations of computing, helped break the Nazi Enigma code and told us how to tell whether a machine could think.

He was also gay. He was prosecuted for being gay, chemically castrated as a 'cure', and took his own life, aged 41.

The British Government should apologize to Alan Turing for his treatment and recognize that his work created much of the world we live in and saved us from Nazi Germany. And an apology would recognize the tragic consequences of prejudice that ended this man's life and career".
Please take a moment to go and sign the petition and reflect on Turing's impact on our modern world. That man should have had a knighthood at least, not persecution.


Mark said...

Thank`s for bringing this to our attention Andy, My name is added to the list.

Andy Holroyd said...

No probs Mark. I see there's been about another 100 sign up overnight.

Mark said...

ya, and I`ve posted it on facebook

Andy Holroyd said...

Good. More people should be aware of Alan Turing.

Remember, each time you sit at your computer you are invoking a Turing Machine. Every programming language has to approach Turing completeness or it will not work (a truly Turing complete system would be the size of the universe). All advances in artificial intelligence are subjected to the Turing test. Nothing has ever passed it, yet.

Pure genius.

NobblySan said...

I just spotted this lurking on the BBC new site:-


Not exactly a posthumous knighthood, but at least a step in the right direction.

Andy Holroyd said...

Cheers Nobbly, I just heard the story on the radio.