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23 June 2012

Your Computer is Gay: "The Legacy of Alan Turing"

Image is used as part of
commentary. The Apple logo
circa 1977 to 1999
Every time you use your computer or any other similar devices, you become gay.   Well, not exactly but it did get your attention.  But it is quite ironic that the internet (which has become accessible to many because of the computer), is populated by an assortment of racists and homophobes.  Just read the many comments in Yahoo Philippines and other news pages.  I say that it is ironic because the modern computer owes its existence to Alan Turing, the English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist.  He was also a persecuted homosexual.

Today’s marks Alan Turing one hundredth birth anniversary.  Turing is regarded by many as the “Father of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence.” His body of work was instrumental in the creation of the modern computer.   He worked as a code breaker during World War II, and his many famous code-breaking devices such as the bombe helped break Nazi cryptic messages.   It is not easy to completely grasp how his many devices work; you need to be a certified and proud geek to do that.  It is no doubt that Turing was a genius but he was more than that. According to Turing expert Professor Jack Copeland, Turing was persecuted for his sexual orientation but he kept his sense of humor and remained cheerful.

Turing died from cyanide poisoning.  His death is widely speculated to be a suicide owing to the fact that he was a homosexual and therefore not mentally stable.  Other experts claim that the suicide theory was inconsistent with Turing behavior and disposition prior to his death.  One thing for sure, his death was certainly cinematic.

For many writers, the presence of a half eaten apple beside his death bed and his fascination with the Snow White fairy tale were just too good to pass. The apple, after all, is the symbol of forbidden love.  These are the stuff that cultural icons are made of. 

But all these just distract us from the most important thing about Turing. He was a brilliant man who remained steadfast amidst adversity.  He is proof that the human brain does not have any gender orientation.  A genius is a genius.  Like Galileo, Turing’s vindication came too late. In August 2009, 55 years after his death, the British government formally apologized for its mistreatment and prosecution of Turing.   

Turing was a mathematical genius but his contribution was cut short because of prejudice. Prejudice, after all, is one concept that cannot be mathematically explained simply because it is illogical. Prejudice only becomes logical in the minds of ignorant people.

You may find it also interesting that the Apple logo is almost like a half-eaten apple, which lead many to speculate that Steve Jobs was inspired by that specific detail of Turing's death.  However, as Steve Jobs put it, "It isn't true, but God, we wish it were."


NOTE: The other contributing writers and members of this blog does not necessarily share the opinions of the writer of this article. (First published in “The Chair” Blog)

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