I don’t really know much about Alan Turing. But I’m sure most IT people would have heard of his name. Those who study about artificial intelligence will surely hear of Turing Test.
Besides Turing Test, he also devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers during World War II. Without him, the war might have end differently. In 1999, Time Magazine named Turing as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century for his role in the creation of the modern computer.
But many people did not know that Alan Turing was a gay and was prosecuted in 1952. Back then, homosexual is illegal in UK. Turing was given a choice between imprisonment or probation conditional on his agreement to undergo hormonal treatment designed to reduce libido. He accepted chemical castration via oestrogen hormone injections, one of the side effects of which was that he grew breasts. His conviction also led to the removal of his security clearance, and barred him from continuing with his cryptographic consultancy for GCHQ
He took his own life two years later.
On 10 September 2009, following an Internet campaign led by John Graham-Cumming, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for the way in which Turing was treated after the war.
So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.
— Gordon Brown
I always admired government who are not afraid of stepping out and apologizing for their mistakes. Something that my government still lacks.