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LGBTQ+ Resource Guide


Alan Turing, born June 23, 1912 and died June 7, 1954, was a British mathematician and logician who made major contributions to mathematics, cryptanalysis, logic, philosophy, and mathematical biology. He also made major contributions to areas later named computer science, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and artificial life. He attended both King's College Cambridge and Princeton University in the USA. During World War II, he joined the Government Codes and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, working on breaking the code for the German Enigma Machine. He developed a machine to help break the code in 1942 and at the end of the war, he was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his code-breaking work. After the war,  he was instrumental in helping create the first automatic computing engine and he was a founding father of artificial intelligence. He was a leading exponent in the hypothesis that the human brain is in large part a digital computing machine, theorizing that the cortex was an unorganized machine at birth and with training, it becomes organized as if it were a machine. The Turing Test, which Turing proposed in 1950, was the leading criterion for whether an artificial computer is thinking on it's own. However, his life took a turn in 1951, when, despite being elected a fellow in the Royal Society in London, he was convicted in March 1952 of "gross indecency" - another term for homosexuality, which Britain deemed a crime at the time - and sentenced to 12 months of hormone "therapy." He spent his last few years working on what is now know as artificial life. He published papers describing aspects of his research and explained his hypothesis for a chemical mechanism for the generation of anatomical structure in animals and plants. He was found dead by cyanide poisoning in 1954 in his bed, but his death was officially ruled as a suicide, even though it could have also been murder or accidental. Turing received a royal pardon from Queen Elizabeth II after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke in 2009 regarding the unfair treatment Turing faced while alive due to his homosexuality.