Prof. Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA, a British theoretical physicist and author, and 10 of his compatriots, have written a letter to The Telegraph, calling on the British government to pardon Alan Mathison Turing, a highly respected British codebreaker during WW2, posthumously, over his trumped up conviction for homosexual behavior, after WW2.
Alan Mathison Turing, was a highly-respected English mathematician who was influential in the development of computer science and formulated the concepts that led to the formalization of algorithms and computation with his “Turing Machine.” This formulation led to the creation of the modern computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.
English mathematician Charles Babbage originated the analytical engine idea in 1837. But it was Turing who mapped out the physics of the algorithm, which in turn gave us an operational digital universe.
“Turing is so fundamental to so much of computer science that it is hard to do anything with computers that isn’t some way influenced by his work,” said Eric Brown, who was a member of the IBM team that built the “Jeopardy” winning Watson supercomputer.
During World War II, Turing worked for Britain’s code-breaking center at Bletchley Park, where he was instrumental in cracking the German code. He is known to a lesser extent for his sad demise, an apparent suicide after being persecuted by the British government for his homosexuality.
At a time when homosexual acts were illegal in Great Britain, in 1952, Turing’s homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution. He accepted treatment with female hormones as an alternative to prison. He died in 1954, just over two weeks before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined it was suicide; his mother and some others believed his death was accidental. On September 10, 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public apology on behalf of the British government for the way in which Turing was treated after the war.
Given the acceptance of homosexuality in the world today, and the hateful images of homophobic individuals destroying and assaulting members of the LGBT community, forgiveness of one of the gay community’s hero’s and role models, by the very people who wrongfully accused and convicted him would seem logical.
Article by Jim Donahue