An Alan Turing pardon is finally in the works, according to multiple media sources from the United Kingdom on Friday.
The World War II hero developed the Enigma code-breaker device which helped the Allies win the war because it allowed them to read codes that the Germans thought were unbreakable.
He also continued his work after the war. The famous Turing test was proposed by Alan Turing in a 1950 paper that suggested one way we could determine whether or not we humans had developed a thinking computer.
In a sad twist, Turing was convicted of homosexuality in 1952 and treated with chemical castration. The conviction may have affected his ability to be allowed to continue on national security code-breaking and computer projects. Under somewhat controversial circumstances, he committed suicide in 1954.
In an address to the House of Lords on Friday quoted in The Guardian, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon suggested that an Alan Turing pardon for the homosexuality conviction “will have a speedy passage to the House of Commons” when it’s considered again this fall.
Ahmad added: “The government are very aware of the calls to pardon Turing, given his outstanding achievements, and have great sympathy with this objective.”
The Telegraph said that in the past the UK government has resisted offering a full pardon to Alan Turing.
They said that the government had previously argued that since homosexuality was in fact illegal when Turing was convicted, he couldn’t be granted a full pardon.
However, the Friday second reading of the pardon proposal and Lord Ahmad’s comments seem to suggest that the Parliament has changed its mind.
Here’s some Twitter reaction:
“@ericevans0: Parliament shouldn’t pardon Alan Turing. They should beg his pardon.” Agreed muchly.
— Martin Fowler (@martinfowler) July 20, 2013
Epic codebreaker died 1954 from cyanide poisoning after “chemical castration” under anti-gay laws. Finally pardoned http://t.co/Tp91gyzK4K
— mia farrow (@MiaFarrow) July 20, 2013
One very small step in rectifying a very tragic wrong. Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing to be given posthumous pardon http://t.co/09ZF7M3Q60
— James D. LaCroix (@LaCroixDesign) July 20, 2013
I would say that the public is way ahead of the government on this one. Most people would seem to agree that the Alan Turing pardon is way overdue.
[Alan Turing Bletchley Park memorial photo by Ian Petticrew via Wikimedia][Enigma machine photo by Karsten Sperling via Wikimedia]