Being a geek, one of my heroes is Alan Turing. He said the basic test of intelligence is whether you can have a conversation. This Turing Test has become the gold standard of artificial intelligence. He laid the philosophical foundations of modern computing in the 30s. To quote Time “The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine.” He also cracked the Nazi Engima code, basically saving our collective asses. However, in 1952 he was prosecuted for being gay, chemically castrated and killed himself two years later.
This is, I think obviously, a damn shame. First that anyone is persecuted for being gay, but also that such an awesome genius was attacked, crippled and taken away from the world. Who knows how much more Mr. Turing could have contributed. Britain at least owed him their gratitude for, say, modern computing and helping thrash the Nazis.
I bring this up because there’s a petition going around the UK to formally apologize to Mr. Turing and award him a posthumous knighthood. I certainly think he deserves it. Alan Turing is one of my heroes and one of the coolest geeks to ever walk the face of the earth. He at least deserves an apology.
Photo by Garretc (cc license)