Friday, September 4, 2009

Turning Turing over in His Grave

I have no doubt that the current campaign to issue Alan Turing a posthumous apology is well intentioned, but I also have no desire to join that campaign.

If it had remained confined to a handful of Turing aficionados, a few who might have truly appreciated his contributions and the challenges he faced, then perhaps I could have been a little more sympathetic. But crowds frighten me, and I suspect they frightened Turing too. And when I see the likes of Dawkins and Grayling joining the throng, I know we have passed from well-intentioned campaign to well-intentioned farce. After all, these are the same professional and authoritative figures who would have been all too happy to condemn Alan Turing in the early 1950s, for of course, that is where the crowd's sentiment lay. It is of no surprise to find them signing up with the opposing legions a half century later, for all that is of consequence is that the legions have switched sides.

Revisionist history serves only to ease the current generation's pain.

No comments: