I am not a computer scientist, and have maybe three CS courses on my transcript. Nonetheless, I am passingly familiar with the contributions of Alan Turing, both theoretical and practical. Google tells me Turing would have been 100 years old today.
Of course, he isn’t. He’s been dead since 1954, having been driven to suicide by his criminal conviction for the “indecent act” of consensual sexual activity with another man, and the subsequent chemical castration he endured as an alternative to imprisonment.
I have an aunt that made it past 100. Interesting to think what Turing could have accomplished in another 60 years. His treatment by the government he served so nobly is beyond shoddy. As someone whose own nation is quite the glass house as it pertains to homophobia, I won’t throw stones. I will only observe that Turing’s fate is somehow for me a particularly poignant example of the corrosive nature of ignorance, fear, and ill-will. I hope that in addition to his inestimable scientific and historical contributions, Turing will be known for his role in revealing and eliminating the kind of deadly prejudice that cost him, and continues to cost others, their lives.
Update 2012-06-25: Jon maddog Hall has written a much more eloquent piece on this subject.