Tuesday, August 04, 2009

My Alan Turing petition

A while back I wrote about the appalling treatment of Alan Turing and suggested that the UK government should apologize. Someone suggested that I turn this into a petition to the UK government.

That petition has now been approved.

If 500 people sign it there will eventually be a response from the government to the petition. If you are a British citizen and wish to sign the petition you can do so on the Number 10 web site here.

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If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.

19 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

I'm a big fan of Turing his treatment by the British government was appalling.

But, as you know, Turing was only one of many people convicted of homosexuality by the British Goverment – so why does the petition focus solely on him? The petition says that it's because he was a genius who saved us from Nazi Germany. This is undoubtedly true. But that is not obviously related to his homosexuality. All people convicted of homosexuality were mistreated. The pardon should be for all of them, not just the famous geniuses.

8:14 AM  
Blogger amarknicholls said...

Some official acknowledgment of Turing's treatment is long overdue and I applaud your petition - but why not go for something more ambitious than an apology? Given Turing's contribution to the Allied victory in WWII, is there a statue of anyone in Trafalgar Square who has achieved more for his country, including Nelson himself? Would not a statue of Turing on that empty plinth be more than appropriate, commemorating not just Turing but the more liberal attitudes to homosexuality now prevailing in both the military and society in general?

3:16 PM  
OpenID popthestack said...

Fantastic idea to create this petition. Turing is an overlooked man and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century. I agree with other's comments that this is about more than just Turing, the apology should be tied to all homosexuals who were prosecuted in those times. I have created an act.ly petition for non-British citizens to sign in support of this. You can sign here http://act.ly/h2

3:12 PM  
Blogger Connell O'Donovan said...

This is brilliant and long over-due! Thank you so much for taking this on. I am on a committee that is similarly demanding that the Mormon Church (which has been vociferously anti-Gay and still coerces LGBT members to undergo bizarre experiments to become heterosexual) apologize for its homophobia. LGBT Mormons are committing suicide at an alarming rate and it's only increasing. More LGBT Mormons have committed suicide since January 2000, than all the previous years combined. Please support our petition, by signing it at LDSApology.org

Best of luck, John!! May you achieve your desires....

6:21 PM  
Blogger Connell O'Donovan said...

This is brilliant and long over-due! Thank you so much for taking this on. I am on a committee that is similarly demanding that the Mormon Church (which has been vociferously anti-Gay and still coerces LGBT members to undergo bizarre experiments to become heterosexual) apologize for its homophobia. LGBT Mormons are committing suicide at an alarming rate and it's only increasing. More LGBT Mormons have committed suicide since January 2000, than all the previous years combined. Please support our petition, by signing it at LDSApology.org

Best of luck, John!! May you achieve your desires....

6:21 PM  
Blogger Connell O'Donovan said...

This is brilliant and long over-due! Thank you so much for taking this on. I am on a committee that is similarly demanding that the Mormon Church (which has been vociferously anti-Gay and still coerces LGBT members to undergo bizarre experiments to become heterosexual) apologize for its homophobia. LGBT Mormons are committing suicide at an alarming rate and it's only increasing. More LGBT Mormons have committed suicide since January 2000, than all the previous years combined. Please support our petition, by signing it at LDSApology.org

Best of luck, John!! May you achieve your desires....

6:21 PM  
Blogger Connell O'Donovan said...

This is brilliant and long over-due! Thank you so much for taking this on. I am on a committee that is similarly demanding that the Mormon Church (which has been vociferously anti-Gay and still coerces LGBT members to undergo bizarre experiments to become heterosexual) apologize for its homophobia. LGBT Mormons are committing suicide at an alarming rate and it's only increasing. More LGBT Mormons have committed suicide since January 2000, than all the previous years combined. Please support our petition, by signing it at LDSApology.org

Best of luck, John!! May you achieve your desires....

6:21 PM  
Blogger filosofee said...

Well done on creating the petition. There are 14,300 signatories at this moment!

9:12 PM  
Blogger Cameron said...

PS As a show of solidarity, we started a petition for those who are not British citizens.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/worldturingpetition/

3:00 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Alan Turing ranks up there with Nelson and many other Military leaders, and this petition is a great way of getting him the deserved place in History that his story and achievement warrents.Lets hope it starts this particular ball rolling.Where would we all be in Britain now without his work?

6:46 AM  
Blogger Eugene said...

One of the very best of computer scientists.
He inspired me to study computer science.

Now that homosexuality is no longer illegal, I support at least some apology for the arm done to them by the government.

Standards do change from age to age. Some day, we may ban capital punishment around the world and then we would apologize to those wrongly executed.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Clive said...

Has anyone considered Alan Turing as someone who could be commemorated on the spare plinthe in trafalgar square? I find it hard to think of anyone who would be a more apropriate candidate. He still is not as famous as he warrants.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Clive said...

I absoloutly agree with amarknicholls that Turing should be commemorated on the spare plinthe.He has not really been recognised,for all his acheivments, that have contributed so much to the world that has come about since his tragic death.His name might then resonate in the public mind as it surely should.

5:15 PM  
Blogger OldGuyWithTime said...

We just heard a report on the Turing petition on CBC Radio "As it Happens". As a recently retired career geek, I have long been familiar with the "Turing test" for artificial intelligence but had no idea of the persecution he faced...my shame.

It is regrettable that in order to sign the petition one must be a British citizen. What can we as Canadians--who share a Commonwealth and monarch--do to further this effort?

10:42 PM  
Blogger קדמון said...

Morality is shifting back and forth. The Greeks accepted homosexuality as normal.

I don't know anything about Alan Turing personality. I'd be surprised if it is worse than Newton's who had a vicious streak.

The issue is that Alan Turing was a outstanding mathematician. Breaking the Enigma code saved many lives on D-day.

He deserves every citation for his deeds.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Vit said...

Great idea, which I immediately supported, also by sending the international petition link to other people in my institute to spread the word and add more signatures... However, as couple of people pointed out, there is a slight imperfection in the petition text, best explained by pasting the comments of some petitioners:

"""
It seems extreme to claim that Turing "saved us from Nazi Germany." The solving of
Enigma certainly helped the Allied war effort, but my reading of the
situation is that the Allies would have won anyway. It is also possible
that someone else could have solved Enigma if Turing hadn't.
"""

"""
...the revelation of the fact that he "saved the World from Nazi
Germany", as written by the author of the petition is unjustified and
misleading. Initially I was turned off by this statement and thought twice
before I voted.
"""

Perhaps this could be rephrased to prevent potential distraction of some people willing to sign the petition out of respect for Alan Turing?

2:48 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Ong said...

Hear Hear

6:21 AM  
Blogger deegee said...

Why won't they allow ex pats & Commonwealth veterans sign ?

6:02 AM  
Blogger Lord Valmont said...

Hi, I am not clever enough to understand how your mail works. Anyway. I paid a tribute to Turing in the form of an eglomise painting. I would be happy if it could find a decent public place. If you are interested I should send you a snapshot. Best regards. Yves. valmont2044@hotmail.com.
Congratulations for your work about this genius, hero and victim.

4:41 PM  

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