Monday, 31 August 2009

Alan Turing

Excerpts from the BBC News website, Monday 31st August 2009:

"Thousands of people have signed a Downing Street petition calling for a posthumous government apology to World War II code breaker Alan Turing.... In 1952 he was prosecuted under the gross indecency act after admitting to a sexual relationship with a man. Two years later he killed himself...”

To read the full article, click here (opens in new window).

To sign the petition (British citizens only - bizarre - does no one else have an opinion that the UK government is willing to listen to?), click here (opens in new window).

Many of us who spent time working on “artificial intelligence” will know Turing for his seminal contributions to that field (amongst others). It is fitting, to me at least (and the other signatories of that petition), that we acknowledge the mistreatment he suffered through the institutionalized discrimination of the day.

An update describing my windsurfing (and ringo-riding) antics in Turkey will follow...

[update - 11th Sept: Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister, wrote the following in a statement to all signatories to the above petition: "[...] Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While 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. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction [...] 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."]