June 23, 1912 – Alan Mathison Turing
Finding yourself at Anthrobotic.com without knowing anything about this guy is rather unlikely, but if that’s the case, meet Alan Turing.
This handsome British chap is one of the humans most directly responsible for your ability to visit a website. Alan Turing and his teams broke Nazi codes and formulated humanity’s essential understanding of computational algorithms and artificial intelligence.
It’s safe to say that Alan Turing’s scientific contributions
have had some measure of effect on every living human being.
The Tragedy of Turing
Scientists, technologists, computer-liking people, and an increasing number of the general public now celebrate this man, but we also mourn both his untimely death and his embarrassingly primitive persecution. Regardless of his contributions to humanity, Alan Turing was harassed, criminally prosecuted, and ultimately convicted of being a homosexual.
Take a moment to really feel that one: Convicted.
Given the choice of prison or chemical castration, he chose the latter.
Though not all agree, his death, at 42 years old, was ruled a suicide.
The Takeaway: We Really Have Come a Long Way
Anyone with a few warm brain cells knows that, despite 24-hour news coverage of the bad, human life around the world is way better than it’s ever been. Remembering Alan Turing is an opportunity to reflect on the hateful and ignorant world in which he did his work, and to be thankful for how far we’ve come socially and how well we’ve developed his gift of computation science.
And the next time someone mentions the innocence, simplicity, and purity of The Good Old Days or The Greatest Generation, tell the story of Alan Turing. Tell them about the barbaric treatment of one of the 20th century’s greatest heroes, and remind them that The Good Old Days were bad times (props: Dolly Parton).
Remember Alan Turing.
Happy Birthday, sir.