Alan Turing

Today is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, one of the great minds of the twentieth century–a leader in both math and computers. Despite the fact that he helped win WWII by being one of the leading code-crackers for England (cracking the German code, meant the Allies often knew what the Germans were planning, while the Germans weren’t able to crack the Allies’ code), the fact that he was gay was deemed more important. In 1952 he was given the choice of prison or chemical castration, he chose the latter and committed suicide two years later. Letters of Note has a letter by him around the time of the trial which ends with this:

I’m afraid that the following syllogism may be used by some in the future.
Turing believes machines think

Turing lies with men

Therefore machines do not think

One of the reasons Larry Summers said he didn’t believe there was discrimination against women at universities was that it would put a university at a competitive disadvantage, that didn’t seem to stop England going against Alan Turing.

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