Remembering Alan Turing is a bittersweet affair. Today, June 23rd, 2012, would be the man’s 100th birthday. We remember him as the father of the modern computer and the creator of basic artificial intelligence, but we often forget the trials he went through that led to his suicide at age 41.
Alan was a code-breaker during WWII for the Allied Powers, and contributed a great deal to the war effort, despite the level of discrimination he faced from his own government for his homosexuality.
During this time, Turing created the “Bombe,” which was used to break the German Enigma Code. It saved thousands of Allied lives, and helped to assure a positive outcome in the war effort.
The man also created the first AI after designing the Turing machine at Cambridge after listening to a lecture on logic. Before Turing, the notion that machines could think and solve problems was nothing more than a chimerical notion.
Gays today still face some level of discrimination, but it is important to recognize the progress that we have made since the time of Alan Turing, and it is important to recognize where we can still make progress. This is the best way to remember the father of AI, since he believed that if he was criminalized for his homosexuality, that it was the government who should change, not the gay community.
Alan was arrested under the “blackmail’s charter,” which was not repealed until the late 1900′s. This made illegal acts of “gross indecency” between men, either public or private. Turing could not live his life as he wished to, even if he did so in private!
Police harassment led to a troubled life for the admired innovator, and he eventually committed suicide in a final act of defiance: eating an apple laced with cyanide. This was a blatant reference to his favorite movie, Snow White and The Seven Dwarves, which was popular among the gay community and showed the world that he was going down fighting for the lifestyle that he wished to live.
To remember Alan Turing’s 100th birthday, we all need to recognize that while we may not agree with how others are living their lives, we need to be tolerant of their actions. If someone lives an alternative lifestyle that you do not choose to live, don’t condemn them for doing so! They are not hurting you in any way, so you have no right to intervene and tell the homosexual community what they should or should not be doing. Everyone is valued in the eyes of God, and you should treat them accordingly.