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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