< Earlier Kibitzing · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·
|Sep-11-09|| ||Stonehenge: About bloody time.|
|Sep-11-09|| ||BishopBerkeley: Many of you are acquainted with the sad tale of Alan Turing, one of the greatest computing pioneers of the 20th century.|
To this day, it is disputed whether Mr. Turing ended his own life -- if so, likely staged to look like an accident. (He had eaten an apple contaminated with cyanide -- possibly accidentally, possibly by his own intention.)
A good case can be made that Turing played an instrumental role in saving his nation -- his participation was key in the Bletchley Park initiative which successfully cracked Nazi ciphers including the "Enigma Code".
In spite of the extraordinary service he rendered his nation, Turing was subsequently prosecuted for "gross indecency" in having a consensual relationship with another man.
Now, 55 years after his death, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has issued a formal apology to Alan Turing:
=== begin quoted text ===
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...."
[Prime Minister Gordon Brown] 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."
=== end quoted text ===
Here is the full apology, courtesy of the official website of the Prime Minister of Great Britain:
=== begin quoted text ===
... But even more than that, Alan [Turing] deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankindâ€™s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate - by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices - that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europeâ€™s history and not Europeâ€™s present.
So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alanâ€™s work I am very proud to say: weâ€™re sorry, you deserved so much better.
=== end quoted text ===
A well deserved apology -- sadly late, but very welcome.
A bit more about Alan Turing:
and about the amazing project that cracked the Nazi codes:
(This is a follow-up to <WannaBe>'s message, with a few added links.)
(: Bishop Berkeley :)
|Mar-15-12|| ||Sneaky: Question....
Does his name rhyme with "stirring" ?
Or does his name rhyme with "curing" ?
|Mar-15-12|| ||kellmano: <sneaky> It rhymes with 'curing'|
|Mar-15-12|| ||Sneaky: Sneaky: I thought so, thanks! So sometimes people misconstrue us, hearing us say "touring machine", perhaps some antiquated term for the automobile.|
Anyhow, the man was a first class genius to be sure. We probably wouldn't be discussing the pronunciation of his name right now if it weren't for his investigations into the nature of computation itself.
|Jun-22-12|| ||Tomlinsky: 100 years after his birth, Alan Turing has weaved his way into the fabric of social history in ways I doubt even he could have imagined.|
|Jun-22-12|| ||HeMateMe: <top of this, there was a matter that no-one wished to know about.|
Turing was arrested on 7 February 1952 for his affair with a young Manchester man.
He was obliged to undertake injections of female hormones intended to render him asexual.
Until the 1970s, this was thought utterly unprintable and circulated only in academic gossip
well, if this is accurate history, it's pretty brutal. Not so great across the pond, either. In the USA I think the police had the green light to go into gay bars and arrest people, for being "deviants". A gay person might get fired from his/her job.
I liked the movie about the Bletchley Park codebreakers, with Kate Winslet. <Enigma> I think is the title. Does Alan Turing appear as one of the actual codebreakers doing duty shifts to monitor the British shipping across the Atlantic? I can't remember.
|Jun-22-12|| ||twinlark: Oh what a legacy he left us! That we can even communicate like this is in no small part due to him.|
|Jun-23-12|| ||brankat: Born 100 years ago!
|Jun-23-12|| ||goodevans: There's an <Alan Turing> puzzle on the Google UK search page today, http://www.google.co.uk/. It took me a few minutes to crack it. Is it on all the Google search pages worldwide?|
|Jun-23-12|| ||Gryz: The puzzle is on the Dutch www.google.nl too.|
|Jun-23-12|| ||goodevans: <Gryz> Thanks. I pleased to hear his importance is being recognised outside his home country.|
Did you manage to solve it?
|Jun-23-12|| ||LoveThatJoker: Alan Turing, today you are remembered!
|Jun-23-12|| ||TheTamale: Ruben Fine, I believe, once wrote an essay on the low incidence of homosexuality in chess players. If I remember correctly, which I may not, his explanation was that chess itself is replete with phallic and patricide imagery and essentially as such serves as an acceptable "substitute" for homosexual inclinations. Something like that. (I believe Fine was a psychotherapist by trade.)|
|Jun-23-12|| ||TheTamale: In any event, Turing is something of an icon in the world of math geekery, and I add my voices to the others in lamenting the fear and intolerance that led to his tragic demise.|
|Jun-23-12|| ||sorokahdeen: From the limits of computability to the threshold of consciousness. His contribution to the war-effort saved countless thousands of lives and all he asked in return was to be left alone with the right man or two.|
I wonder what he would think if he could have known that the former vice-president of the United State's daughter had made an honest woman of her long-term partner today.
At what distance would he have held his own life? Would he have called himself a stepping stone or just a man?
|Jun-23-12|| ||Bratek: <It’s worth looking up Turing’s original article titled “Digital Computers applied to chess” (1951, published in 1953) on The Turing Digital Archive and admire the typewriter script and the manual corrections in the text. But it’s even more interesting to read what Turing wrote in the introduction:|
When one is asked, “Could one make a machine to play chess?” there are several possible meanings which might be given to the words. Here are a few: –
i) Could one make a machine which would obey the rules of chess, i.e. one which would play random legal moves, or which could tell one whether a given move is a legal one?
ii) Could one make a machine which would solve chess problems, e.g. tell one whether, in a given position, white has a forced mate in three?
iii) Could one make a machine which would play a reasonably good game of chess, i.e. which, confronted with an ordinary (that is, not particularly unusual) chess position, would after two or three minutes of calculation, indicate a passably good legal move?
iv) Could one make a machine to play chess, and to improve its play, game by game, profiting from its experience? Nowadays, it’s hard to believe the first three questions were ever in any kind of doubt, but the fourth one is a different matter altogether.
As anyone in possession of a chess playing program or engine surely has experienced, one of the last shortcomings of such software is the ability to teach the machine anything – from a subtle little move in an opening variation to the concept of a fortress, to a particular maneuver in an elementary rook ending.Nowadays, it’s hard to believe the first three questions were ever in any kind of doubt, but the fourth one is a different matter altogether.
As anyone in possession of a chess playing program or engine surely has experienced, one of the last shortcomings of such software is the ability to teach the machine anything – from a subtle little move in an opening variation to the concept of a fortress, to a particular maneuver in an elementary rook ending.>http://www.chessvibes.com/columns/t...
|Jun-23-12|| ||Marmot PFL: <Ruben Fine, I believe, once wrote an essay on the low incidence of homosexuality in chess players. >|
Fine lived in a different, more repressed era. I met several gay or bi players over the years and heard about others, so I doubt there is much difference between chess players and the general population.
|Jun-23-12|| ||Marmot PFL: <In spite of the extraordinary service he rendered his nation, Turing was subsequently prosecuted for "gross indecency" in having a consensual relationship with another man.>|
I wonder if there is more to the story, like someone setting him up for some reason. I have read accounts of the life of John Maynard Keynes and other British intellectuals, and their numerous homosexual affairs which they seemed very open about.
|Jun-23-12|| ||twinlark: <MarmotPFL>
It doesn't seem like he was set up. One of the links talks about how Turing had gone to the police station to report a problem, a burglary IIRC, and incautiously let them know he was having an affair with a man.
The police lost interest in his initial complaint and went after him.
|Jun-24-12|| ||Boomie: <Marmot PFL: I have read accounts of the life of John Maynard Keynes and other British intellectuals, and their numerous homosexual affairs which they seemed very open about.>|
Not to mention the British spies Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, and Anthony Blunt, who were all openly gay.
This maybe implies that there is more to this story than we know. Instead of intervening on Turing's behalf, the government chose to let him hang. Why? Did Turing, one of the great geniuses of the 20th century, know too much?
|Jun-24-12|| ||King Death: < Boomie: Not to mention the British spies Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, and Anthony Blunt, who were all openly gay.>|
About Guy Burgess and Blunt there isn't any doubt even though according to one source Blunt had some affairs with women. I've read evidence that Maclean expressed homosexual feelings at times but those may have been in the moment and they wouldn't make him "openly gay". When was Philby known to have been involved with men? If it happened in public school (like it did with so many) that doesn't confirm his orientation. By that criterion probably many if not most British boys going through public school would be gay.
Regardless Turing was a brilliant man that fell victim to the laws of his times.
|Jun-24-12|| ||twinlark: Jack Copeland (who wrote his Centenary Conference bio that is partially copied into the bio here) is also speculating that he may not have suicided, and that based upon the evidence available, an open verdict should have been the outcome. |
In other words, it might have been suicide, or it may have been an accident, or...it may have been murder as his mother asserted. The problem as Copeland sees it is that the investigation into his death was badly handled and the coroner jumped to conclusions about his state of mind that were unjustified.
While it's uncontested that he died of cyanide poisoning, the exact details of how this occurred were, and are still, murky.
|Jun-24-12|| ||pawn to QB4: <This maybe implies that there is more to this story than we know. Instead of intervening on Turing's behalf, the government chose to let him hang. Why? Did Turing, one of the great geniuses of the 20th century, know too much?>|
Not necessarily. UK public attitudes to homosexuality back then were roughly what they are to paedophilia today. No contribution to society was great enough to excuse it. Nobody could be seen to intervene in the legal process to rescue a man accused of it. Probably half the politicians, lawyers and police shared the public prejudice anyway.
Fortunately we've moved on. You can drive along Alan Turing Way in Manchester. The mother-in-law commented "who's he? another town councillor naming the city after himself?" Still some way to go.
|Jun-26-12|| ||jahhaj: An excerpt from the lecture GK gave about Turing and computer chess. Includes a game by GK against Turing's algorithm. Turing didn't last long.|
< Earlier Kibitzing · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·