e g r e g o r e s

"Graciously bestow upon all men felicity, the summit of which is the knowledge of the Gods." [Julian, Oration to the Mother of the Gods]

Alan Turing: new petition demands apology

Alan Turing is one of the very few people of the modern era deserving of the label “genius”. Turing’s most revolutionary accomplishment was the “discovery”, if that is the right word, of a conceptual model general enough to describe every conceivable kind of computing device. He also developed a sublimely elegant test to determine whether or not a machine can think.

Oh, and he also played a critical role in defeating the Nazis in World War Two.

In Turing’s day, being gay was a crime, and in 1952 Alan Turing was arrested, charged, put on trial and convicted for that “crime”. The specific charge against him was “gross indecency”, the same charge brought against Oscar Wilde in 1895, as a result of which Wilde was convicted and sentenced to hard labor. Turing was given the choice of serving a prison sentence or submitting himself to “chemical castration”. He chose the latter, and committed suicide two years later.

There is now an international petition demanding a public apology from the British government. Please sign it! There is also a separate petition for British citizens.

To learn more about Turing I highly recommend Andrew Hodges biography – it’s out of print but you can still find copies at Amazon or Abebooks – or try a library! Hodges also maintains The Alan Turing Homepage.

Also see Turing’s entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. And his wikipedia page is actually not too bad.

“Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity.”
Alan Turing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: