I only recently discovered that Alan Turing was gay (or, at least, slept with men.) I think I had about five minutes of elation, in which I mentally stood him next to Ada Lovelace in my pantheon of idols with whom I can identify, before I learned the second half of the story: mere years after being chemically castrated as punishment for his homosexuality ‘gross indecency’ Turing committed suicide. He hasn’t budged in my affections– I just relate to him now more personally and more painfully than would be necessary in a more perfect world.
It seems everything conspires to keep bringing him to my attention, though, so have two links, on his life and on the recent British apology for his mistreatment:
Orson Scott Card, meet Alan Turing, from Feminist SF.
For Alan Turing, a real apology for once, from Language Log.
Finally, I leave you with a poem by Matt Harvey, from the BBC Radio.
here’s a toast to Alan Turing
born in harsher, darker times
who thought outside the container
and loved outside the lines
and so the code-breaker was broken
and we’re sorry
yes now the s-word has been spoken
the official conscience woken
– very carefully scripted but at least it’s not encrypted –
and the story does suggest
a part 2 to the Turing Test:
1. can machines behave like humans?
2. can we?