Huppert calls for national recognition for codebreaker Turing

26 June, 2012 No Comments

June 25, 2012

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert will call for national recognition for mathematical genius and wartime codebreaker, Alan Turing during a Parliamentary debate on Wednesday (June 27).

Julian will tell MPs that, despite numerous tributes commemorating Turing, there is still a “disturbing lack of national recognition for one of the greatest Britons who has ever lived”.

“I hope that the Government will recognise that, in the centenary of his birth, we have the opportunity to celebrate a person whose contribution to our society, to our world, has gone unrecognised,” he will say when he opens a debate on The Centenary and Birth of Alan Turing at Westminster Hall.

“He showed the world the infinite potential of human ingenuity, and the machines which that ingenuity made possible. He showed the world how machines could help humans. And we treated him in the most inhumane way.”

Julian will remind them of how Turing was “forced out of a world to which he had contributed so much” after being convicted of gross indecency for admitting to a homosexual relationship.

“Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that we weren’t even able to give him the honour of a conclusive inquest,” Julian will say. “Today, we still debate the circumstances of his death. Some suggest he created a deliberately ambiguous scenario in which to die, his intellect confounding us to this day.”

Julian will pay tribute to Professor Barry Cooper for his tireless efforts as Chair of the Turing Centenary Advisory Committee which helped spur the debate and to Cambridge’s King’s College Library for continuing to promote Turing, preserving his memory and his contribution to the modern world. 

“Alan Turing looked at the world around him, exposed what was in front of him and set a generation of scientists and mathematicians down paths which have changed our world,” Julian will say.

“The tragedy is that his intelligence and his foresight could not rationalise his existence in a world which suppressed him. In a society which so cruelly mistreated him.

“So valuable was his contribution to the security services, his papers were only released in April of this year. They show that Turing made several breakthroughs in the race to break Enigma. It’s not clear whether any other human could have made the contribution he made at that time.

“Today, we have an opportunity to honour his life and his achievements. We have the opportunity, 100 years after his birth, to try and put right that which our country got so badly wrong.”


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