❝ Alan Turing, the father of computer science and artificial intelligence who broke Adolf Hitler’s Enigma code system in World War II — but who died an outcast because of his homosexuality — will be featured on the Bank of England’s new 50-pound note…
❝ Turing was just 41 when he died from poisoning in 1954, a death that was deemed a suicide. For decades, his status as a giant in mathematics was largely unknown, thanks to the secrecy around his computer research and the social taboos about his sexuality. His story became more widely known after the release of the 2014 movie The Imitation Game.
❝ The Turing commemoration is the U.K. government’s latest public reevaluation of the genius who was convicted of homosexuality under “gross indecency” laws in 1952. By the time he died, Turing had been stripped of his security clearance and was forced to undergo a “chemical castration” regime of estrogen shots to avoid serving a two-year prison term.
The treatment of non-conformity by “polite” society over the centuries ranged from indecent to inhumane and cruel. Those who offended political pop culture and religion both – with their sexual preference – received the worst of it. Admitting narrow-minded stupidity of this sort is typically accompanied by “not on my watch” hand-wringing. And not much more. Still, the admission is part of the process of sorting out the dross remaining in our cultural brain.