Petition seeks apology for Alan Turing

I didn’t really know where to post this. Alan Turing was a computer scientist, so I guess this will do.

An online petition demanding a formal apology from the British government for its treatment of World War II code-breaker Alan Turing is gaining momentum.

Turing was best known for inventing the Bombe, a code-breaking machine that deciphered messages encoded by German Enigma machines during World War II.

The messages provided the Allies with crucial information from the British government’s code-breaking headquarters in Bletchley Park where Turing worked full-time during the war.

He was considered a mathematical genius and went on to develop the Turing machine, a theory that automatic computation cannot solve all mathematical problems, which is considered the basis of modern computing.

However, to avoid a custodial sentence for having a homosexual relationship, an illegal act at the time, Turing agreed to undergo chemical castration. He was injected with estrogen, an experience that is widely believed to have led to his suicide just two years later. Turing was just 41 when he ended his life by eating an apple laced with cyanide.

Thats so depressing (reading Turing’s life story). It really helps fight off the nostalgia of yesteryear and realize that in some ways the world is making progress toward becoming a better place.

I’d sign it if I was a UK citizen. What a horrible way to treat one of your heroes.

They should ask their (grand)parents for an apology, not the British government. I mean, the UK was a democracy. If homosexuality was illegal, it’s because most of society supported that view.

Sure, but governments are typically treated as entity’s. If a government incorrectly incarcerates someone, then the government finds out later it apologizes and renumerates the issue. Even if it was done when a prior administrator was in control be it 5, 10, 20 or 40 years later.

In this case though its just to help ease any social stigma that may remain. Its a token act no doubt. But a decent one to show some contrition for such a horrible thing that was done, even if the people in power are far removed form those that made the decision.

And being a democracy doesn’t lessen the responsibility of the government, though it does help provide context. Which is why I was most saddened by the state of the world at the time, Im not specially angry at the British government.

Still some token act by the British government would be a decent thing to do.

Wow, I didn’t know that happened to Turing. Disgusting.

Me either, I knew of his contributions but that’s just a fucking abomination what happened to him.

I signed it.

The man was a national hero as far as I’m concerned, as well as a brilliant scientist.

I did too. It’s a horrifying story.

I can’t help but immediately think of this picture

My hero! He also invented the Turing test, a practical way to test for Machine intelligence.

Yes, he predicted Skynet decades ahead of everybody else.

Ah, irony.

On this week’s TWIT, the guy behind the petition (John Graham-Cummings) was on talking about the apology happened.


2012 is the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing. After that last petition failed, they started up a new one. This one received more than 21,000 signatures. But the petition was denied.

Ya, this is one of the most tragic cases in all of computer science. He was undeniably one of the greatest minds of this century, if not human history.

never mind, I am an idiot. He was a great man. Would be nice to see some of the effort put towards increasing the prize for the Turing award.

I am glad this thread got bumped. I knew about Turing and the homosexual prosecution. I had no idea there was petition much less an apology. Good to see that one guy made a difference by starting a campaign. Hopefully Google does something for his 100 birthday I bet they do.