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Brown apologises for Turing's treatment

Brown apologises for Turing's treatment

Alan Turing is often referred to as the father of modern computing, but died age 41 as a result of a criminal conviction for being gay.

Gordon Brown has issued an official apology to the memory of Alan Turing, often called the father of modern computing, for the government of the day's part in his death.

As reported by the BBC, the apology comes following a petition created by computer scientist John Graham-Cumming which asked for the government to apologise for their treatment of "the greatest computer scientist ever born in Britain" following his conviction for being gay - illegal at the time.

As a result of his sexuality, Turing - responsible for "help[ing to] break the Nazi Enigma code and [telling] us how to tell whether a machine could think" was forced to take chemical castration drugs to curb his libido and was forcibly removed from his work at the Government Communications Headquarters as a codebreaker - thought to be the reasons for his suicide by way of cyanide-laced apple aged 41.

In response to the petition - which gathered more than 30,000 signatures, including the support of noted atheist scientist Richard Dawkins and gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell - Brown has issued a statement saying "while Mr Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him."

Prime Minister Brown went on to say "on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better."

Petition organisers have welcomed the apology, and are currently awaiting news following a request to the Queen for Turing to be awarded a posthumous knighthood for his services to the realm.

Have you ever used a Turing Test to see if an artificial intelligence can fool a human? Perhaps you've benefited from his work on 'universal machines,' the foundation for modern computing? Share your comments over in the forums.

33 Comments

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Gunsmith 11th September 2009, 14:24 Quote
the only two words i want to hear from browns fat trap are GOOD and BYE
Sim0n 11th September 2009, 14:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
the only two words i want to hear from browns fat trap are GOOD and BYE

Dont forget "Sorry" and "here, have my pension and costs back"
ano 11th September 2009, 15:01 Quote
Registered to say:

I've never understood retrospective apologies from people entirely unconnected with the thing they're apologising for. What did GB do that he feels he needs to apologise for? Of course it's pretty nasty that Turing was subjected to experimental chemical castration, but it wasn't Gordo's fault.
death_munky 11th September 2009, 15:05 Quote
Gunsmith & Sim0n

This thread shouldn't be about your feelings for Gordon Brown, it should be about the memory of Turing and what may have well been the most important influence in claiming victory in the European theatre during the second world war.

Turing and his team saved thousands of lives through their work cracking and undermining the German communications network and laid the foundations for computing as we know it today.

The man should have been treated as a national treasure, not villified for his sexuality.
Tyrmot 11th September 2009, 15:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ano
Registered to say:

I've never understood retrospective apologies from people entirely unconnected with the thing they're apologising for. What did GB do that he feels he needs to apologise for? Of course it's pretty nasty that Turing was subjected to experimental chemical castration, but it wasn't Gordo's fault.

I believe he had to give a 'personal' apology as he couldn't give an 'official' one as this has to be given to descendants of the person in question - and Turing has none. In this capacity he is apologising on behalf of the British Government rather than as himself
Bauul 11th September 2009, 15:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrmot
Quote:
Originally Posted by ano
Registered to say:

I've never understood retrospective apologies from people entirely unconnected with the thing they're apologising for. What did GB do that he feels he needs to apologise for? Of course it's pretty nasty that Turing was subjected to experimental chemical castration, but it wasn't Gordo's fault.

I believe he had to give a 'personal' apology as he couldn't give an 'official' one as this has to be given to descendants of the person in question - and Turing has none. In this capacity he is apologising on behalf of the British Government rather than as himself

Exactly, an official apology is basically a pardoning. Effectively his crimes have now been ruled unlawful. Gordon's just the spokesman for the establishment, so naturally it would be him to deliver the apology. It's not Gordon personally saying he is sorry.
specofdust 11th September 2009, 17:51 Quote
Good stuff. Brown seems to actually react to petitions like this and listen to people, I'm glad. While it makes no real difference, it at least goes some way to the UK recognising a great man who saved many lives and advanced technology a great deal in his life time.
KayinBlack 11th September 2009, 18:30 Quote
Hear hear. Glad to see he got the pardon he deserved.
toric334 11th September 2009, 18:33 Quote
This isn't actually going to change anything, I don't really understand the point. I learnt about Turing in Computing, amazing guy, didn't deserve anything he got at all, but such is life.
Nexxo 11th September 2009, 19:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust
Good stuff. Brown seems to actually react to petitions like this and listen to people, I'm glad. While it makes no real difference, it at least goes some way to the UK recognising a great man who saved many lives and advanced technology a great deal in his life time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by toric334
This isn't actually going to change anything, I don't really understand the point. I learnt about Turing in Computing, amazing guy, didn't deserve anything he got at all, but such is life.

Actually it is going to change something. Not for Alan Turing, or for us, but for the history books and generations to come who will be taught from these: that a scientist was key in defeating a fascist empire and that him happening to be gay is casual trivia rather than a cause for persecution. it worked for Oscar Wilde: once society got past homosexuality it started seeing him as the great literary figure that he was.

One day perhaps people will be appreciated for their unique talents rather than judged on dumb prejudice.
tejas 11th September 2009, 23:23 Quote
The UK has a lot more to apologize for than just Turing's wrongful death...
specofdust 11th September 2009, 23:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas
The UK has a lot more to apologize for than just Turing's wrongful death...

Nah, not really. That's pretty much everything.
Sir Digby 12th September 2009, 00:12 Quote
Wonderful, I'd be much happier about this if I didn't feel like he was just being populist.

Now can we save Bletchley park?
Krieger91 12th September 2009, 00:43 Quote
That guy had a pretty cool hair cut. Seriously, I wish more people wore theirs like that these days.
NethLyn 12th September 2009, 01:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by death_munky
Gunsmith & Sim0n

This thread shouldn't be about your feelings for Gordon Brown

If the man will do and say anything to get re-elected in the next nine months, why shouldn't it?

Last time I checked people could say what they wanted on this site and it would be the mods that would decide what was objectionable.
thehippoz 12th September 2009, 01:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
the only two words i want to hear from browns fat trap are GOOD and BYE

lol
l3v1ck 12th September 2009, 08:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
the only two words i want to hear from browns fat trap are GOOD and BYE
+1
kylew 12th September 2009, 08:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
Exactly, an official apology is basically a pardoning. Effectively his crimes have now been ruled unlawful. Gordon's just the spokesman for the establishment, so naturally it would be him to deliver the apology. It's not Gordon personally saying he is sorry.

Well he isn't, but it's like Tony Blair apologising for slavery, I cringed when I heard about that. He had nothing to do with it, and the people demanding an apology were not involved except it being the reason why they were in England at this time.

Slavery was terrible, we all know that, but the British aren't the only people responsible, while they're at it, why don't they demand public apologies from the tribes that willingly gave up their own people to be slaves in return for money/goods.

I recently heard about this guy being imprisoned for being gay and while people are free to believe what they think about homosexuality, to imprison some one for something they are, where they practise in the security of their own home with other consensual adults shouldn't have anything to do with those who aren't involved.

Gordon Brow's apology effectively means nothing, the same as if he hadn't said anything at all to be honest.

It goes without saying that it was an unlawful act what happened to this man, to apologise for it such a long time later is almost patronising and utterly pathetic.

Shouldn't the government be worrying about more important things?
kylew 12th September 2009, 08:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Actually it is going to change something. Not for Alan Turing, or for us, but for the history books and generations to come who will be taught from these: that a scientist was key in defeating a fascist empire and that him happening to be gay is casual trivia rather than a cause for persecution. it worked for Oscar Wilde: once society got past homosexuality it started seeing him as the great literary figure that he was.

One day perhaps people will be appreciated for their unique talents rather than judged on dumb prejudice.

What you say this apology is important for, seems to have apparently already happened.

It goes without saying that this was a big wrong, an apology changes nothing though.

What do you think will actually be remembered? The reason this man died, or Gordon's apology for it which by rights he shouldn't be able to make?

The King of Spain has just as much reason to apologise for this. (none at all)
airchie 12th September 2009, 10:40 Quote
GB is the head of the government and it was the government that persecuted Turing.
Brown Making the apology and acknowledging Turing's part in making sure all of us don't speak german is entirely relevant.

Those who don't learn from history, are destined to repeat it and Brown's apology, on behalf of the government shows they're at least learning...
BLC 12th September 2009, 17:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Digby
Now can we save Bletchley park?

Agreed +1.
TSR2 12th September 2009, 18:57 Quote
@Sir Digby: Of course not, that would cost money and would actually do something. True, Turing deserves the apology, but I am sure that, given a choice between an apology and saving Bletchley Park, the latter would be better.
vils 12th September 2009, 19:17 Quote
If you would like to know more about Turing and codes I can really recommend Simon Singhs "The code book", excellent popular science.
And yes, I think Browns apology was in place.
SNIPERMikeUK 12th September 2009, 21:05 Quote
We hated this man when he was chancellor (opening his red box like it's the one with a penny in Deal Or No Deal), and now he is running our country, what did we do to deserve this man.....
digitaldave 12th September 2009, 22:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SNIPERMikeUK
We hated this man when he was chancellor (opening his red box like it's the one with a penny in Deal Or No Deal), and now he is running our country, what did we do to deserve this man.....

+1 gordo the clown is not even a good dictator, if he was i might not be so against the one eyed *****
specofdust 12th September 2009, 23:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitaldave
+1 gordo the clown is not even a good dictator, if he was i might not be so against the one eyed *****

D'you mock people for being in car accidents too? Ha Ha, look at that person there, they lost both their legs and will never walk again!

The man lost almost all of his sight playing Rugby as a young man. It's not something that should be open to mockery, and you should be ashamed of yourself for even bringing it up.

I also suggest you look up the term dictator, as you clearly lack understanding of what it is. Not to mention the far less presidential style of leadership Brown has persued, unlike Thatcher, or Blair.
Quote:
We hated this man when he was chancellor (opening his red box like it's the one with a penny in Deal Or No Deal), and now he is running our country, what did we do to deserve this man.....

"We" clearly didn't, if you're talking about we as a country, since "we" have voted Labour in three times consecutively.
l3v1ck 14th September 2009, 06:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust
D'you mock people for being in car accidents too?
If they're a joy riding car thief who crashed while trying to evade the police while endangering pedestrians lives, then yes I would mock them for that. Hence the popularity of Police, Camera, Action and other such shows.
SNIPERMikeUK 14th September 2009, 12:43 Quote
RE: specofdust, Jememy Clarkson said it best "The man is a one eyed scottish idiot".

And he is running our country into the dark ages.....
specofdust 14th September 2009, 12:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SNIPERMikeUK
RE: specofdust, Jememy Clarkson said it best "The man is a one eyed scottish idiot".

And he is running our country into the dark ages.....

Well if Jeremy Clarkson said it, and you're repeating it....'nuff said I suppose.
Nexxo 14th September 2009, 21:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kylew
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Actually it is going to change something. Not for Alan Turing, or for us, but for the history books and generations to come who will be taught from these: that a scientist was key in defeating a fascist empire and that him happening to be gay is casual trivia rather than a cause for persecution. it worked for Oscar Wilde: once society got past homosexuality it started seeing him as the great literary figure that he was.

One day perhaps people will be appreciated for their unique talents rather than judged on dumb prejudice.

What you say this apology is important for, seems to have apparently already happened.

It goes without saying that this was a big wrong, an apology changes nothing though.

What do you think will actually be remembered? The reason this man died, or Gordon's apology for it which by rights he shouldn't be able to make?
I'd say that one reminds us of the other.
xaser04 15th September 2009, 11:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust


"We" clearly didn't, if you're talking about we as a country, since "we" have voted Labour in three times consecutively.

Just a technical point, we don't vote for who will be in which poisition (ie PM), we merely vote for the party (candidate).

Luckily thanks to Gordon, Labour won't get a chance at a fourth term.....
specofdust 15th September 2009, 11:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by xaser04
Just a technical point, we don't vote for who will be in which poisition (ie PM), we merely vote for the party (candidate).

Luckily thanks to Gordon, Labour won't get a chance at a fourth term.....

I'm well aware of that. It depresses me that people would vote for a lying, rights destroying, war waging, scumbag like Blair three times in a row, but hate brown simply because his prime minisitership is occuring during a depresison.
gnutonian 16th September 2009, 02:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
One day perhaps people will be appreciated for their unique talents rather than judged on dumb prejudice.
A great hope, but very unworkable in my opinion. I think the modern human race (with all its media and whatnot) simply needs someone to hate: homosexuals and non-whites are off-limits, so now it's smokers and fat people. (Oceania is always at war with either Eurasia or Eastasia.)

This homosexual - committing a crime by simply being in love - was key in defeating the country's enemies. Then afterwards, as a "thank you", he was made to choose between prison or chemical castration. Nice.

I often use the 1950s "homosexuality is a disease/mental disorder"-mentality in arguments about the credibility of science. Science said homosexuality was weird, so it was true. Now science says that if you've ever smoked a cigarette your children will turn into cold-blooded child molesters, so it's true, right?

Adding to that the nerve of the Allied governments to wage war upon a nation (granted, war-waging nation; or as the playground saying goes: they started it) that made discrimination one of its prime policies; whilst said "liberating" nations exercised the same level (bar the death camps) of discrimination towards blacks, homosexuals, communists, etc.

I never lived in the 1950s, but my modern-day mind finds it sickening. And angering (if that's even a word).

The apology is an empty one: Gordon Brown, or the current British government, never wronged Alan Turing personally. But at least it recognises the nation's past mistakes, and hopefully makes some people realise what one smart guy did to help the nation's war efforts (for whatever reason they were fought). And it shows respect to what he did, not what he was.

He massively helped his nation whilst being considered "criminal" according to that nation's (silly) laws. That's being the bigger man for you!
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