“Yours in Distress”
Alan Turing was a mathematician and one of the lead codebreakers during World War II. Many of you may have seen his life story in the movie The Imitation Game. In 1952, he was charged with “gross indecency” for having a homosexual relationship with another man. His punishment was either imprisonment or chemical castration. He chose castration. Just two years later, when he was 41 years old, he committed suicide. Here is a letter he wrote to his friend Norman Routledge just before he plead guilty to the charges.
“My dear Norman,
I don’t think I really do know much about jobs, except the one I had during the war. It certainly involved a good deal of hard thinking, but whether you’d be interested I don’t know. However I am not at present in a state in which I am able to concentrate well, for reasons explained in the next paragraph.
I’ve now got myself into the kind of trouble that I have always considered to be quite a possibility for me. Though I have usually rated it at about 10:1 against. I shall shortly be pleading guilty to a charge of sexual offences with a young man. The story of how it all came to be found out is a long and fascinating one, which I shall have to make into a short story one day.. No doubt I shall emerge from it all a different man, but quite who I’ve not found out.
I’m afraid that the following syllogism may be used by some in the future.
Turing believes machines think
Turing lies with men
Therefore machines do not think
Yours in distress,