Turing the Saviour: Not much of an exaggeration

Posted on by Mike Evans

Photo: Mike Evans

Photo: Mike Evans

Alan Turing, the convicted homosexual who helped win the Second World War, is heading for a posthumous pardon. Speaking during the second reading of the Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill on July 19, Lord Sharkey quoted Harvard professor Steve Pinker:

It would be an exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing explained the nature of logical and mathematical reasoning, invented the digital computer, solved the mind-body problem and saved Western Civilization. But it would not be much of an exaggeration.

He also related an anecdote about Jack Good, who was at Bletchley Park with Alan Turing and who died last year at the age of 91. Professor Good said that "it was a good thing the authorities hadn't known Turing was a homosexual during the war, because if they had, they would have fired him....and we would have lost".

Instead, an ungrateful nation had to be content with chemically castrating Turing and hounding him to an early and suspicious death.

You can read the full debate here in Hansard. Scroll down to Column 1006 at 11.49 am.

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