17 May 2012

Author Joan Burnett

Today is IDAHO, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and in a personal gesture, I'd like to remember Alan Turing (1912 - 1954), war hero, computer pioneer and persecuted gay man.

Alan Turing's most famous achievement was his involvement in breaking German codes during World War 2, including work on the Enigma machine

In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official apology in memory of the suffering caused to Alan Turing by the anti gay laws of the 1950's: his criminal conviction for being gay and subsequent acceptance of experimental hormone treatment left him humiliated and may have led to his suicide shortly before his 42nd birthday. 

He was a hugely influential figure in computer science, particularly with the Turing Machine - a forerunner of many elements of artificial intelligence. The Turing Test has been debated widely: his ideas around whether machines could emulate human intelligence are directly relevant to our current exhibition at FACT, Robots and Avatars, and he is recognised around the world as a ground breaking thinker.