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Alan Turing - a tragic tale

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I'm not sure who has really heard of Alan Turing on here - but today the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on behalf of the Government has apologised for the way he was treated after World War 2.

Alan Turing was a mathematician who's work and seminal papers have him labelled as a father of modern AI and a pioneer in computing in some texts. During World War 2 he headed up a team a Bletchley Park that was responsible for breaking the German Enigma codes.

After the war they found out he was gay, so effectively sacked him and as a "cure" is said to have been given an experimental chemical castration treatment!!

Anyway 2 years later he killed himself - although tbh the government of the time had managed to do that anyway - truly sad.





PM apology after Turing petition



Gordon Brown has said he is sorry for the "appalling" way World War II code-breaker Alan Turing was treated for being gay.


A petition on the No 10 website had called for a posthumous government apology to the computer pioneer.


In 1952 Turing was prosecuted for gross indecency after admitting a sexual relationship with a man. Two years later he killed himself.


The campaign was the idea of computer scientist John Graham-Cumming.


He was seeking an apology for the way the mathematician was treated after his conviction. He also wrote to the Queen to ask for Turing to be awarded a posthumous knighthood.


The campaign was backed by Ian McEwan, scientist Richard Dawkins and gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. The petition posted on the Downing Street website attracted thousands of signatures.


Mr Brown, writing in the Telegraph newspaper, said: "While Mr Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him."


National legacy


He said Mr Turing deserved recognition for his contribution to humankind.


In the statement he said: "So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better."


Mr Turing's three nieces said they were "delighted" and "very glad" to see the injustice recognised.


It's fantastic there has been an apology, says Dr Sue Black of Saving Bletchley Park


Welcoming Mr Brown's move, Peter Tatchell of gay rights group Outrage! said a similar apology is also due to the estimated 100,000 British men who suffered similar treatment.


"Singling out Turing just because he is famous is wrong", he said.


Alan Turing was given experimental chemical castration as a "treatment" and his security privileges were removed, meaning he could not continue to work for the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).


He is most famous for his code-breaking work at Bletchley Park during WWII, helping to create the Bombe that cracked messages enciphered with the German Enigma machines.


However, he also made significant contributions to the emerging fields of artificial intelligence and computing.


In 1936 he established the conceptual and philosophical basis for the rise of computers in a seminal paper called On Computable Numbers and in 1950 he devised a test to measure the intelligence of a machine. Today it is known as the Turing Test.


After the war he worked at many institutions including the University of Manchester, where he worked on the Manchester Mark 1, one of the first recognisable modern computers.


There is a memorial statue of him in Manchester's Sackville Gardens which was unveiled in 2001.

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I wonder what prompted Gordon to apologise for this of all the 1000s of petitions sent to Downing Street. Still, richly deserved in my view.

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The guy was a genius and obviously had a big hand in shaping today's society. To think they couldn't let something as pathetic as that drop for one of our finest minds and a war hero - just shocking. IMO an apology is the least they could do even though its too late.


The quote above from Peter Tatchell annoys me a bit tbh

"Singling out Turing just because he is famous is wrong"


wtf - there is 'famous' for this guy who made some real changes to the world - then theres 'famous' for a film star that....um acts a bit...sometimes - just NOT the word to use!!.

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With you on that...Turing is notable in helping shape the modern world...an actor is known for being able to lie convincingly.


Exceptions of course exist...



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