Computer pioneer and Nazi codebreaker Alan Turing is given posthumous royal pardon


Blackleaf
+1
#1
British computer pioneer and WWII codebreaker Alan Turing has today been given a posthumous royal pardon.

During WWII, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire which cracked Nazi codes, including those enciphered on the Enigma machine. This was a substantial aid to the Allied war effort and undoubtedly shortened the conflict and saved thousands of lives. For his work, Turing was awarded an OBE by the King in 1945.

However, in 1952 he was prosecuted for being a homosexual and was chemically castrated as an alternative to prison. He committed suicide just two years later by poisoning himself with cyanide.

But now, over 59 years after his death at the age of 41, Turing has finally been pardoned.

The pardon was granted yesterday by the Queen under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a request by Justice Minister Chris Grayling. Issuing pardons is one of the Queen's few powers. Turing's pardon comes into effect today.

"Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind," said Mr Grayling.

"His later life was overshadowed by his conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed."

As well as breaking German codes and helping to shorten WWII and save thousands of lives, Turing also worked at the National Physical Laboratory where he designed the ACE, one of the first designs for a stored-program computer. He is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.


Royal pardon for codebreaker Alan Turing

24 December 2013
BBC News


Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon for being chemically castrated for being gay, as Danny Shaw reports

Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon.

It addresses his 1952 conviction for homosexuality for which he was punished by being chemically castrated.

The conviction meant he lost his security clearance and had to stop the code-cracking work that had proved vital to the Allies in World War Two.

The pardon was granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a request by Justice Minister Chris Grayling.

'Appalling' treatment

"Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind," said Mr Grayling.

He said the research Turing carried out during the war at Bletchley Park undoubtedly shortened the conflict and saved thousands of lives.


Turing and his clever team at Bletchley Park not only massively aided the Allied war effort and helped shorten the war, he is also considered to be the father of Artificial Intelligence. 2012 saw a series of events that celebrated his life and work. The events were held to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth


Turing's work helped accelerate Allied efforts to read German Naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine. He also contributed some more fundamental work on codebreaking that was only released to public scrutiny in April 2012.

"His later life was overshadowed by his conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed," said Mr Grayling.

"Turing deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science. A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man."

The pardon comes into effect on 24 December.

Turing died in June 1954 from cyanide poisoning and an inquest decided that he had committed suicide. However, biographers, friends and other students of his life dispute the finding and suggest his death was an accident.

Many people have campaigned for years to win a pardon for Turing.

Dr Sue Black, a computer scientist, was one of the key figures in the campaign.

She told the BBC that she hoped all the men convicted under the anti-homosexuality law would now be pardoned.

"This is one small step on the way to making some real positive change happen to all the people that were convicted," she said.

"It's a disgrace that so many people were treated so disrespectfully."

Some have criticised the action for not going far enough and, 59 years after Turing's death, little more than a token gesture.

"I just think it's ridiculous, frankly," British home computing pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair told the BBC.

"He's been dead these many years so what's the point? It's a silly nonsense.

"He was such a fine, great man, and what was done was appalling of course. It makes no sense to me, because what's done is done."

'It's very wrong'

Lord Sharkey, a Liberal Democrat peer who wrote a private member's bill calling for a royal pardon in July 2012, said the decision was "wonderful news".

"This has demonstrated wisdom and compassion," he said. "It has recognised a very great British hero and made some amends for the cruelty and injustice with which Turing was treated."

Matt Brittin, Google's northern Europe vice-president, said the company was "thrilled" at Turing's pardon.

"Alan Turing is a hero to so many of us at Google," he said. "Both for his codebreaking work at Bletchley Park and for his key role in the development of computer science."

Technology entrepreneur Mike Lynch added: "Society didn't understand Alan Turing or his ideas on many levels but that was a reflection on us, not on him - and it has taken us 60 years to catch up."

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: "I pay tribute to the government for ensuring Alan Turing has a royal pardon at last but I do think it's very wrong that other men convicted of exactly the same offence are not even being given an apology, let alone a royal pardon.

"We're talking about at least 50,000 other men who were convicted of the same offence, of so-called gross indecency, which is simply a sexual act between men with consent."

Mr Tatchell said he would like to see Turing's death fully investigated.

"While I have no evidence that he was murdered, I do think we need to explore the possibility that he may have been killed by the security services. He was regarded as a high security risk," he said.

'Not entirely comfortable'

Glyn Hughes, the sculptor of the Alan Turing Memorial in Manchester, said it was "very gratifying" that he had finally been pardoned.

"When we set out to try and make him famous - get him recognised - it was really difficult to collect money," he said.


"None of the big computer companies would stump up a penny for a memorial. They perhaps would now - we've come a very long way."

But he said he was "not entirely comfortable" that Turing had been pardoned while thousands of other gay men had not.

"The problem is, of course, if there was a general pardon for men who had been prosecuted for homosexuality, many of them are still alive and they could get compensation."
In December 2011, an e-petition was created on the Direct Gov site that asked for Turing to be pardoned. It received more than 34,000 signatures but its request was denied by the then justice secretary, Lord McNally, who said Turing was "properly convicted" for what was at the time a criminal offence.

Prior to that in August 2009, a petition was started to request a pardon. It won an official apology from the prime minister at the time, Gordon Brown, who said the way Turing was persecuted over his homosexuality was "appalling".


Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire where the Nazi codes were cracked. Today it is home to the National Museum of Computing

Big screen

Turing's life is the subject of upcoming Hollywood movie The Imitation Game, which focuses on the cracking of the Enigma code.

Starring Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, the film is due for release next year.

Channel 4's TV film Codebreaker, about the highs and lows of Turing's life, was aired in 2011.

And during the 2012 celebrations of the centenary of Turing's birth, a Welsh digital arts festival - the Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival - featured a laser image of Turing projected from Conwy Castle into the sky.

Although Turing was born in London, he had strong connections with north Wales.

The Italianate village of Portmeirion in Gwynedd was one of Turing's favourite places.

But it was in northern England where Turing spent the last six years of his life, working at Manchester University in various specialist fields including mathematical logic and philosophy.

BBC News - Royal pardon for codebreaker Alan Turing












Last edited by Blackleaf; Dec 24th, 2013 at 09:41 AM..
 
petros
+2
#2
Finally
 
Blackleaf
#3
I think pardoning Turing is wrong. A Great British hero he may be, but he broke the law.
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
+4
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

I think pardoning Turing is wrong. A Great British hero he may be, but he broke the law.

An unjust law which has since been repealed. Would it make sense that if you repeal a law you undo the sentences of those sentenced under it?
 
taxslave
+4
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

I think pardoning Turing is wrong. A Great British hero he may be, but he broke the law.

The laws of nature override laws of ignorant people.
 
SLM
+1
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslaveView Post

The laws of nature override laws of ignorant people.

The people aren't ignorant, they repealed the law and issued a posthumous pardon. As far as I can see there's only the one person who remains ignorant.
 
taxslave
+2
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by SLMView Post

The people aren't ignorant, they repealed the law and issued a posthumous pardon. As far as I can see there's only the one person who remains ignorant.

I was actually thinking of the ones that put that silly law in place in the first place. Somehow I suspect BL isn't the only ignorant person left in England. He might have a friend.
 
SLM
+1
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslaveView Post

I was actually thinking of the ones that put that silly law in place in the first place. Somehow I suspect BL isn't the only ignorant person left in England. He might have a friend.

Those laws were in place everywhere at one point, almost everywhere anyway. Just like there were laws segregating people by race or even gender. It's almost understandable when everyone is ignorant. Where it becomes unacceptable is when there is only a few that hold onto their ignorance.

As for having a friend I take it imaginary would count?
 
taxslave
+1
#9
If you expect him to come up with a number higher than zero, yes.
 
shadowshiv
+4
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

I think pardoning Turing is wrong. A Great British hero he may be, but he broke the law.

That wasn't a law. It was a travesty.
 
damngrumpy
+1
#11
The real criminal act was the government having such a law in the first place
and what they did to him was a crime against all behiaving like the very enemy
they fought. I often hear nonsense such as the law is the law especially in an
open society. We also have the avenue of civil disobedience which demonstrates
many know the law is wrong in the first place.
It should be the government receiving the pardon as the person pardoned did nothing
wrong the law and the government that upheld the unjust law were the one to blame
here. I see we will just pardone the man and all will be right with the world.
Doesn't it sound a little like the residential schools episode and the Rob Ford scandal.
 
Blackleaf
+1
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by IdRatherBeSkiingView Post

An unjust law which has since been repealed.


Yeah? Who says so, apart from those with early 21st century sensibilities? This is yet another example of people thinking that today's sensbilities applied to yesteryear. I wonder how many people of the time would have agreed with you that it was "an unjust law".

And whether just or unjust, it was the law of the land and he broke it. If you pardon Turing for breaking the law then you can pardon everybody in history that has ever broken the law. Why don't be pardon the Yorkshire Ripper or the Great Train Robbers?

Quote: Originally Posted by taxslaveView Post

The laws of nature override laws of ignorant people.


In that case, why don't we pardon every person who has had sex with an under age child? Nature didn't intend there to be sexual consent laws.
 
Sal
#13
it is heartbreaking and beyond comprehension that it took them this long

Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

I think pardoning Turing is wrong. A Great British hero he may be, but he broke the law.

he did break the law, but in another thread you clearly pointed out that there are archaic laws still on the books in Britain and yet they are smart enough not to enforce them

maybe you are right though, it is not Turing who needs pardoning but rather the intolerant people who caused a human being to castrate himself out of sheer ignorance
 
lone wolf
+1
#14
Wasn't turning out freshmen a rite of passage for every Brit private school senior?
 
Blackleaf
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by SalView Post


he did break the law, but in another thread you clearly pointed out that there are archaic laws still on the books in Britain and yet they are smart enough not to enforce them

What have archaic laws that aren't enforced got to do with modern laws that were enforced?

Quote:

maybe you are right though, it is not Turing who needs pardoning but rather the intolerant people who caused a human being to castrate himself out of sheer ignorance

Again. You are transferring 21st century sensibilities and reasoning and beliefs onto a completely different time period which had different sensibilities, reasoning and beliefs, a time when people looked down on things such as homosexuality. This has to stop. The time that Turing lived was a completely different one to the early 21st Century and today's beliefs do NOT apply to Turing's time.
 
Sal
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

What have archaic laws that aren't enforced got to do with modern laws that were enforced?

see your own answer below... as we know better, we do better

Quote:

Again. You are transferring 21st century sensibilities and reasoning and beliefs onto a completely different time period which had different sensibilities, reasoning and beliefs.

yes, none the less it was still wrong and very sad
Quote:

This has to stop.

yes what was done can not be undone, but it can be recognized and changed.

Quote:

The time that Turing lift was a completely different want to the early 21st Century.

yes and so they have finally realized that they essentially destroyed a human being who saved the lives of thousands...it took them a long time to admit fault, but at least they have done so and that is a wonderful thing.
 
Nuggler
+1 / -1
#17


An Enigma machine was any of a family of related electro-mechanical rotor cipher machines used in the twentieth century for enciphering and deciphering secret messages. Enigma was invented by the German engineer Arthur Scherbius at the end of World War I.[1] Early models were used commercially from the early 1920s, and adopted by military and government services of several countries — most notably by Nazi Germany before and during World War II.[2] Several different Enigma models were produced, but the German military models are the most commonly discussed.
German military texts enciphered on the Enigma machine were first broken by the Polish Cipher Bureau, beginning in December 1932. This success was a result of efforts by three Polish cryptologists, Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski, working for Polish military intelligence. Rejewski "reverse-engineered" the device, using theoretical mathematics and material supplied by French military intelligence. Subsequently the three mathematicians designed mechanical devices for breaking Enigma ciphers, including the cryptologic bomb. This work was an essential foundation to further work on decrypting ciphers from repeatedly modernized Enigma machines, first in Poland and after the outbreak of war in France and the UK.
On 25 July 1939, in Warsaw, the Poles initiated French and British military intelligence representatives into their Enigma-decryption techniques and equipment, including Zygalski sheets and the cryptologic bomb, and promised each delegation a Polish-reconstructed Enigma. Without these gifts of techniques and technology from Polish military intelligence, decryption of German Enigma messages during World War II at Bletchley Park would not have been possible, as it was based on using mathematical theory and the perfecting of methods, tools and devices — all invented and developed beginning in 1932 by Rejewski, Różycki and Zygalski.[3][4][5] From 1938 onwards, additional complexity was repeatedly added to the Enigma machines, making decryption more difficult and necessitating larger numbers of equipment and personnel—more than the Poles could readily produce. The Polish breakthrough represented a vital basis for the later British continuation and effort.[6] During the war, British cryptologists decrypted a vast number of messages enciphered on Enigma. The intelligence gleaned from this source, codenamed "Ultra" by the British, was a substantial aid to the Allied war effort.[7]
Though Enigma had some cryptographic weaknesses, in practice it was German procedural flaws, operator mistakes, laziness, failure to systematically introduce changes in encipherment procedures, and Allied capture of key tables and hardware that, during the war, enabled Allied cryptologists to succeed.[8][9]
The exact influence of Ultra on the course of the war is debated; an oft-repeated assessment is that decryption of German ciphers advanced the end of the European war by two years.[8][10][11] Winston Churchill told the United Kingdom's












Believe it was the Poles first, you dumb fukk.
 
Blackleaf
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by SalView Post

it was still wrong

You are applying today's sensibilities onto those of the past. I've told you to stop it. What people think about things today is irrelevant. We're not talking about today. We're talking about the past.

Quote:

yes what was done can not be undone, but it can be recognized and changed.

He broke the law. He did wrong. He should not have been pardoned.

Quote:

they essentially destroyed a human being who saved the lives of thousands.

He shouldn't have broken the law then, should he? Simple as.

Quote: Originally Posted by NugglerView Post

Believe it was the Poles first, you dumb fukk.

So Turing and Bletchley Park were all imaginary then, were they? Alright then.
 
Sal
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

You are applying today's sensibilities onto those of the pats. I've told you to stop it. What people think about things today is irrelevant. We're not talking about today. We're talking about the past.

we are speaking of the human condition, there is no past, present or future when speaking of cruelty and ignorace, nothing excuses such wrong and it can not be righted only our behaviour in the present can be changed...and they have...also by your own words here, he most definitely should be pardoned:applying today's sensibilities

Quote:

He shouldn't have broken the law then, should he? Simple as.

It was a law developed from a lack of understanding and intolerance. No such laws exist today in enlightened countries and if they do, they are not enforced in civilized countries such as yours or mine.
 
JLM
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

I think pardoning Turing is wrong. A Great British hero he may be, but he broke the law.


Quite often a very stupid reason for incarcerating a person. In the City of Winnipeg it is against the law to carry water down the street in open buckets between the months of November and April.
 
taxslave
+2
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

Yeah? Who says so, apart from those with early 21st century sensibilities? This is yet another example of people thinking that today's sensbilities applied to yesteryear. I wonder how many people of the time would have agreed with you that it was "an unjust law".

And whether just or unjust, it was the law of the land and he broke it. If you pardon Turing for breaking the law then you can pardon everybody in history that has ever broken the law. Why don't be pardon the Yorkshire Ripper or the Great Train Robbers?




In that case, why don't we pardon every person who has had sex with an under age child? Nature didn't intend there to be sexual consent laws.

Are you looking for an excuse for your pedophilia?

Quote: Originally Posted by JLMView Post

Quite often a very stupid reason for incarcerating a person. In the City of Winnipeg it is against the law to carry water down the street in open buckets between the months of November and April.

Now that is truly stupid because it would be a block of ice anyway.
 
JLM
+1
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslaveView Post

Are you looking for an excuse for your pedophilia?



Now that is truly stupid because it would be a block of ice anyway.


Well, thinking about it that way it could be from September until June. -
 
taxslave
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by JLMView Post

Well, thinking about it that way it could be from September until June. -

Depends on your views on global warming.
 
JLM
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslaveView Post

Depends on your views on global warming.


Pretty simplistic- it warms up in the summer and cools off in the winter. -
 
Dexter Sinister
+3
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

I think pardoning Turing is wrong. A Great British hero he may be, but he broke the law.

The logical end of that line of argument is that nobody should be pardoned, ever, for anything. Yes he broke the law, but it was a bad law that caused grievous harm to many people, and the fact that it's no longer the law reflects that, now we know better. You've also tried to argue that we shouldn't do this, but the pardon is a quite explicit application of contemporary standards and mores to history, we (society I mean) do that kind of thing all the time. That line of argument produces the conclusion, for example, that we should not judge the anti-Semitism that produced extermination camps around the middle of the previous century as a bad thing, because it was considered normal and acceptable by the people who implemented it at the time. That's intellectually paralyzing, eventually you'll end up unable to justify any judgment about anything in the past.
 
WLDB
+3
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by BlackleafView Post

A Great British hero he may be, but he broke the law.

There is nothing wrong with breaking an unjust law.
 
JLM
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by WLDBView Post

There is nothing wrong with breaking an unjust law.


Who decides whether a law is unjust?
 
SLM
+2
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by JLMView Post

Who decides whether a law is unjust?

Society.
 
damngrumpy
#29
What is right and wrong doesn't come with an expirery date and it doesn't come
with a new date either. Apartide was wrong when it started and wrong when it
finished and this case is no different. Britain brought some good things to the
world but those great things were diminished because they brought slavery and
tyranny to millions over the centuries.
Here is a man who serves his country with distinction and he gets treated the way
he did. People in Britain should be ashamed to deal with this as a pardon they
should deal with it as a we are sorry for the criminal act we committed. Any
person with sensitivity period should hang their head in shame over this. The
arrogance to suggest a pardon when the accused was violated and did nothing
wrong. I am surprised the State had the gaul to even bring the subject up.
Anyone who believes having an empire at all is well for the reasons of sensitivity
I won't use the insult. Merry Christmas. Britain did give us ****ens and his stories
of sensitivity so there is some redeeming value there at least.
 
Goober
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter SinisterView Post

The logical end of that line of argument is that nobody should be pardoned, ever, for anything. Yes he broke the law, but it was a bad law that caused grievous harm to many people, and the fact that it's no longer the law reflects that, now we know better. You've also tried to argue that we shouldn't do this, but the pardon is a quite explicit application of contemporary standards and mores to history, we (society I mean) do that kind of thing all the time. That line of argument produces the conclusion, for example, that we should not judge the anti-Semitism that produced extermination camps around the middle of the previous century as a bad thing, because it was considered normal and acceptable by the people who implemented it at the time. That's intellectually paralyzing, eventually you'll end up unable to justify any judgment about anything in the past.

The Holocaust was not normal, nor accepted by many. It was the first Genocide on a massive industrial scale. Even the War effort of supplies took second place for material and trains to keep the slaughter going.
 

Similar Threads

0
Cyclops kitten nets posthumous Internet fame
by spaminator | Oct 12th, 2012
17
Nazi royal picture sparks outrage
by Blackleaf | Jan 5th, 2007
no new posts