Alan Turing, Brilliant Mathematician and Code Breaker, Will Be Finally Pardoned by British Government

turing pardon“Alan Tur­ing, the Enig­ma code­break­er who took his own life after being con­vict­ed of gross inde­cen­cy under anti-homo­sex­u­al­i­ty leg­is­la­tion, is to be giv­en a posthu­mous par­don,” writes The Guardian today. One of the great math­e­mati­cians of the last cen­tu­ry, Tur­ing laid the foun­da­tions for com­put­er sci­ence and played a key role in break­ing the Nazi Enig­ma code dur­ing World War II. Despite his con­tri­bu­tions to defend­ing Britain, Tur­ing was pros­e­cut­ed in 1952 for engag­ing in homo­sex­u­al acts under an 1885 law that led to the con­vic­tions of 49,000 gay men, includ­ing Oscar Wilde. It’s a sad tale that gets recount­ed by anoth­er com­put­er pio­neer Jaron Lanier here:

For years, sup­port­ers have called upon the British gov­ern­ment to issue a posthu­mous par­don. And while British Prime Min­is­ter Gor­don Brown apol­o­gized in 2010 for “the appalling way [Tur­ing] was treat­ed,” mem­bers of the House of Lords resist­ed issu­ing an actu­al par­don as recent­ly as last year. But, accord­ing to The Guardian, leg­is­la­tors are pre­pared to pass a new bill as ear­ly as this Octo­ber. As many of our read­ers will be quick to point out, the con­cept  of a par­don is a bit strange, see­ing that Tur­ing did noth­ing wrong. But the will­ing­ness of the gov­ern­ment to effec­tive­ly nul­li­fy the con­vic­tion and reject an archa­ic law is a wel­comed piece of news.

via @phi­los­o­phy­bites

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch the 1996 Film, Break­ing the Code, Star­ring Derek Jaco­bi

The Enig­ma Machine: How Alan Tur­ing Helped Break the Unbreak­able Nazi Code

N Is a Num­ber: A Por­trait of Paul Erdős, the Most Pro­lif­ic Math­e­mati­cian of the 20th Cen­tu­ry

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Comments (6)
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  • Ian MacMillan says:

    It’s the British gov­ern­ment that wants par­don­ing. And who is there to par­don such an out­ra­geous crime?

  • Melli says:

    Do the oth­er 48,999 who were con­vict­ed also get a par­don?

  • Irma Vazquez says:

    Just one more trag­ic episode in his­to­ry. This “par­don” does noth­ing to amend the fact that the life of a bril­liant man was tak­en in the name of big­otry and stupidity.When will we ever learn?

  • Srikant says:

    The House should ask for for­give­ness and par­don

  • David Rodriguez says:

    Last year the band from Barcelona, HIDROGENESSE, released an album focused on Tur­ing and his fatal end. The first song “Un beso” starts say­ing “the Gov­er­ment asks for for­give­ness” The whole album is a mas­ter­piece, by the way.

  • pgrudin says:

    Wait a minute. THEY are going to par­don HIM? Don’t we have things back­wards? How many of them would even have been alive to con­demn him were it not for his bril­liant work in crack­ing the Nazi code. “Inde­cent acts”? Sor­ry, that silli­ness should have evap­o­rat­ed long before they ruined the life of Oscar Wilde? Do you want to know what an “Inde­cent Act” is? Go look at Wilde’s tri­al or the tri­al of this sec­ond genius.

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