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      CommentAuthoroak
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
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    Alan Turing, Enigma Code-Breaker and Computer Pioneer, Wins Royal Pardon

    By Emma G. Fitzsimmons
    New York Times
    December 24, 2013

    Nearly 60 years after his death, Alan Turing, the British mathematician regarded as one of the central figures in the development of the computer, received a formal pardon from Queen Elizabeth II on Monday for his conviction in 1952 on charges of homosexuality, at the time a criminal offense in Britain.

    The pardon was announced by the British justice secretary, Chris Grayling, who had made the request to the queen. Mr. Grayling said in a statement that Mr. Turing, whose most remarkable achievement was helping to develop the machines and algorithms that unscrambled the supposedly impenetrable Enigma code used by the Germans in World War II, “deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science.”

    The British prime minister, David Cameron, said in a statement: “His action saved countless lives. He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the ‘father of modern computing.’ ”

    Mr. Turing committed suicide in 1954, two years after his conviction on charges of gross indecency. He was 41. In a 1936 research paper, Mr. Turing anticipated a computing machine that could perform different tasks by altering its software, rather than its hardware.

    He also proposed the now famous Turing test, used to determine artificial intelligence. In the test, a person asks questions of both a computer and another human — neither of which they can see — to try to determine which is the computer and which is the fellow human. If the computer can fool the person, according to the Turing test, it is deemed intelligent.

    In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a formal apology to Mr. Turing, calling his treatment “horrifying” and “utterly unfair.” But Mr. Cameron’s government denied him a pardon last year.

    An online petition urging a pardon received more than 35,000 signatures. The campaign has also received worldwide support from scientists, including Stephen Hawking.

    When Mr. Turing was convicted in 1952, he was sentenced — as an alternative to prison — to chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He also lost his security clearance because of the conviction. He committed suicide by eating an apple believed to have been laced with cyanide.

    The queen has the power to issue a “royal prerogative of mercy” to pardon civilians, but rarely does so. Mr. Grayling said that Mr. Turing’s sentence would today be considered “unjust and discriminatory.”

    Mr. Turing has been the subject of numerous biographies, as well as “Breaking the Code,” a play based on his life that was presented in London’s West End and on Broadway in the 1980s.

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/world/europe/alan-turing-enigma-code-breaker-and-computer-pioneer-wins-royal-pardon.html
    • CommentAuthortinker
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    About bloody time! And they should pardon everybody else convicted under the same old laws.
    • CommentAuthorLakes
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    Long overdue, and I agree with tinker.
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    And they should pardon Thomas More, and all those deported inthe Clearances, and William Wallace,..Where do you stop? It's pointless to pardon a dead person.

    The suicide story is contentious. It may well have been an accident resolting from his rather lackadaisical lab technique.

    All that said, he was a genius of the first order.
    • CommentAuthortinker
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013 edited
     
    Indeed it is - the dead themselves do not ask for pardon. But there must be quite a few prosecuted under the old UK (pre 1967) law who are still alive.
    • CommentAuthorjoshs
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    Unless they intend to compensate his family somehow, the pardon is obviously only of symbolic value. Up until about the same time as the repeal of the UK law, the sunny, progressive State of California made pretty much all sex other than man on woman missionary position a crime.
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    Symbolic-of course. But then everybody's grandchildren want their own personal symbol. Where a society decides that they had it wrong in the past there's nothing one can do but applaud (or maybe boo, depending) their change of heart. Apologies are meaningless and compensation is usually inappropriate, inadequate and misdirected.
    • CommentAuthorjoshs
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    Exactly, which makes the pardon pretty much for the PR benefit of the State and useless for the person wronged who is long gone.
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      CommentAuthorpcstru
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013 edited
     
    Alan Turing's pardon is wrong.

    "It is shocking to realise that there are still people alive today who were unjustly criminalised in their youth, and who have carried the stain of a criminal record, as a sex offender, through almost their entire adult lives."
  1.  
    I wouldn't say Turing's pardon is wrong. They just need to generalized the statement. Prosecution of people about whether they like innies or outies is wrong. Heck, some like both.
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      CommentAuthorpcstru
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    The point is they didn't pardon everyone who was persecuted, some of whom are still alive. Why single out Turing? What message is that sending?
  2.  
    Agreed. That's what I meant by generalizing the statement.

    Were lesbians prosecuted like gays or was innie/innie love okay because it got the old men off?
    • CommentAuthortinker
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013 edited
     
    Lesbianism was never a criminal offence in the UK. Legend is that when Queen Victoria was asked to sign off
    legislation forbidding both male and female homosexual acts she refused to accept that lesbianism really existed, and demanded that all reference to it was removed from the statutes.
    • CommentAuthorjoshs
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    Posted By: pcstruAlan Turing's pardon is wrong.

    "It is shocking to realise that there are still people alive today who were unjustly criminalised in their youth, and who have carried the stain of a criminal record, as a sex offender, through almost their entire adult lives."
    That's a good editorial.
    • CommentAuthorAsterix
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    Elizabeth has been queen from the time Turing was convicted until the present, so there is a vital connection.

    So what's next? An OBE for Turing; perhaps a knighthood?
    • CommentAuthortinker
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    You can't have a vital connection with someone dead. Not legally, at least. Nor can they be knighted AFAIK. He could however get a posthumous medal for his role in the wartime decoding schtick.
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2013
     
    You can't logically have a "vital connection with the dead". I don't know about legally.
  3.  
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism_for_the_dead

    The LDS Church teaches that those who have died may choose to accept or reject the baptism done on their behalf.
    • CommentAuthorAsterix
    • CommentTimeDec 25th 2013
     
    Posted By: tinkerYou can't have a vital connection with someone dead. Not legally, at least. Nor can they be knighted AFAIK. He could however get a posthumous medal for his role in the wartime decoding schtick.


    So the CoE doesn't hold with praying to the dead? I always thought they followed the Roman Catholics with that nonsense.
  4.  
    Suddenly the air became thick with pink unicorns