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UK To Create Alan Turing Institute

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the brand-new dept.

United Kingdom 62

kc123 writes "The UK government has announced plans to create the Alan Turing Institute intended to tackle problems in Big Data. The government will provide £42m over five years for the project. Turing was a pivotal figure in mathematics and computing. His codebreaking work led to the cracking of the German 'Enigma' codes. In December 2013, after a series of public campaigns, Turing received a posthumous royal pardon, for a conviction of homosexual activity in 1952."

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62 comments

SMASH BRITISH IMPERIALISM! (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 4 months ago | (#46531545)

For a soviet britain! Abolish the monarchy! Down with licensing hours! Down with age of consent laws!

Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46531569)

Finally, Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! Swizel stick awesome. Too bad he was a convicted faggot, and I don't mean cigarette.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46531655)

Being homosexual is not a life choice any more than skin colour is.

HOWEVER, being an ignorant wanker is a choice..... why did you make it when better choices were available ?

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46531697)

Actually, some people are completely straight, some people are completely gay, and then there are people in the middle, shades of gray, for whom it is a choice of lifestyle.

So you sound as ignorant as your parent.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (3, Insightful)

fey000 (1374173) | about 4 months ago | (#46531961)

Actually, some people are completely straight, some people are completely gay, and then there are people in the middle, shades of gray, for whom it is a choice of lifestyle.

So you sound as ignorant as your parent.

Alas, you are confusing choice of action with choice of existence.

For someone that is, to use your term, a "shade of gay", there is only the choice of acting upon this desire. There is no choice in having these partial homosexual tendencies.

To dumb it down, you may choose to never sexually interact with a man for your entire life. This is your choice. You cannot however, choose to not be attracted to other men if you are fully or partially homosexual.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46533857)

People make these flat, categorical pronouncements without real evidence one way or the other.
We do not have strong evidence for or against "sexual orientation" being an innate characteristic.
That said, Turing was not convicted of an "orientation", but of an illegal act.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46536965)

Parent actually said "shades of gray", so "shade of gay" is from your own mind.

However, I find it to be a nice bit of wordplay that I will use as my own from now!

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46538743)

I believe there are 50 of them

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (3, Insightful)

Wootery (1087023) | about 4 months ago | (#46532267)

Being homosexual is not a life choice any more than skin colour is.

This... doesn't matter either way. It's strange that this is emphasised so often. That homophobia is wrong doesn't depend on homosexuality not being a choice.

The existence of a 'straight pill' would not make homophobia ok.

Don't be an asshole to people just for being different from you strikes me as a much better rule than Don't be an asshole to people just for being different from you, unless those differences are through choice.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46532513)

This... doesn't matter either way. It's strange that this is emphasised so often. That homophobia is wrong doesn't depend on homosexuality not being a choice.

Wha? Of course it depends on homosexuality not being a choice. If we were not allowed to discriminate against people based on their choices it would get ridiculous. "Sorry, you can't send me to jail for stealing, that's discrimination."

The existence of a 'straight pill' would not make homophobia ok.

No it wouldn't, but it also wouldn't make homosexuality a choice. The only choice introduced would be whether or not to get rid of one's homosexuality, which is not the same thing at all.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46532841)

I don't pretend to understand what attracts a man to another bloke any more than I get why the current ideal supermodel makes Twiggy look voluptuous.

You're not in charge of what you find attractive. My own tastes have been skewed toward mostly ladies from the discount section who were, to varying degrees, damaged goods. I need to be needed... ye olde false knight syndrome.

That said, we will finally pass beyond base tribal discrimination into enlightened society when an article such as this is discussed with no mention of Turing's sexual preference.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 4 months ago | (#46535001)

If we were not allowed to discriminate against people based on their choices it would get ridiculous. "Sorry, you can't send me to jail for stealing, that's discrimination."

Firstly, I never mentioned 'allowed'. I was discussing right and wrong.

Secondly, your comparison is preposterous. Not all matters of choice are equivalent. You can't see the difference between being gay and stealing someone's stuff? Good lord, do I really have to spell it out!?

Here goes: not all choices are fair game for discrimination. Choosing to steal my stuff harms me. Choosing to marry someone else of the same sex does not. Clear about the difference now?

Religious discrimination is unfair, despite religion being a choice, correct? (At least, much more a matter of choice than sexuality. One can choose to stop going to a place of worship, even if one can't choose to simply not believe something any more. The analogy to sexuality and sex is certainly there, but it remains that people can and do adopt/convert between/abandon religions.)

it also wouldn't make homosexuality a choice. The only choice introduced would be whether or not to get rid of one's homosexuality, which is not the same thing at all.

I don't see that the difference is significant. We can compare with a disease for which there is an effective, safe, and let's say completely free, cure: refusing treatment and continuing to suffer from the disease certainly can be called a choice, even though getting the disease in the first place was not.

You're just falling for the whole bullshit package of It's only unfair to discriminate on these grounds if these grounds are involuntary.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#46532897)

It's emphasised because many of the most vocal homophobes seem to think that homosexuality is a choice. Of course there are homophones who don't think that, like the Daily Mail that believes gay foetuses should be aborted on the womb.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 4 months ago | (#46533625)

That homophobia is wrong doesn't depend on homosexuality not being a choice.

For that matter, your right to have sex with your own gender shouldn't need to rely on being born that way as legal justification.

"Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another." -- a wise person

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 4 months ago | (#46541839)

For that matter, your right to have sex with your own gender shouldn't need to rely on being born that way as legal justification.

Good point.

No, no, turns out I wasn't born that way. I was just curious. doesn't make discrimination ok.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (1)

Xaduurv (1685700) | about 4 months ago | (#46538431)

Being homosexual is not a life choice any more than skin colour is.

HOWEVER, being an ignorant wanker is a choice..... why did you make it when better choices were available ?

My kingdom for mod points!

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46540207)

Being homosexual is not a life choice any more than skin colour is.

HOWEVER, being an ignorant wanker is a choice..... why did you make it when better choices were available ?

Too bad people in Britain at the time were at the time were such wankers they drove him to suicide. Imagine if he had lived decades more what he might have accomplished.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46531855)

A fag is a cigarette. A faggot is either a bundle of twigs or a traditional food.

Re: Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46533189)

Or a poofer like you

Re: Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | about 4 months ago | (#46534635)

'poof' or 'poofter' are the words that you grasp after, not a composite of the two.

Right, I'm just off to a brothel to visit your mom where, even there, I believe they refer to her as 'Admiral Ackbar'.

Re: Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46534895)

A poofer is used to blow dust of objects like photographic negatives. Is English your first language?

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46531897)

Too bad he was a convicted faggot, and I don't mean cigarette.

I am a convicted cigarette.

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46533547)

I am a bundle of twigs

Re:Alan Turing was all kinds of awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46534105)

So what, it's not like he was out turing people gay, and the fact that you're so compelled to point it out is a sign.

name? (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 4 months ago | (#46531673)

The Alan Turing Institute For Automated General Spying, nice acronym too.
Cheap shot I know, except that the real name will be more hypocritical.

Re:name? (1)

Stellian (673475) | about 4 months ago | (#46531865)

Cheap, effective, but maybe incorrect. Seems more like a bullshit proposal from a politician spewing buzzwords he can't understand:

We will found the Alan Turing Institute to ensure Britain leads the way again in the use of big data and algorithm research.
"I am determined that our country is going to out-compete, out-smart and out-do the rest of the world."

The government said that big data "can allow businesses to enhance their manufacturing processes, target their marketing better, and provide more efficient services".

Let's hope some good research can come of this, it's not like basic science research is included in the budget of any corporation. Of course, it's unlikely that any of it will directly help UK, with maybe the sole exception of keeping talented researchers in the country.

Too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46531693)

Too late, UK or The Queen have no moral rights to use Turing's name!

Re:Too late (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46531875)

Too late, UK or The Queen have no moral rights to use Turing's name!

It would have been better if it had been an institute to research cures for gayness, which Turing would have dearly loved to have

Re:Too late (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 4 months ago | (#46531959)

Too late, UK or The Queen have no moral rights to use Turing's name!

It would have been better if it had been an institute to research cures for gayness, which Turing would have dearly loved to have

This comment makes me feel very sad because he would have loved to be able to stop being gay. Societies judgments on him let to the self-loathing that eventually led to his suicide. What he needed (but probably didn't even consider possible) was a society that did not stigmatise or judge him.

Re:Too late (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46532235)

My advice, Chris, is to stop being a faggot.

Sex with Sa Trollkore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46531723)

Its fine as long as .. (1)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 4 months ago | (#46531739)

They don't do research on chemical castration.. I say They'd rather give his name for an institute dealing with individual privacy and the fundamental right "to be" ..

I'm fucking offended. (2)

KliX (164895) | about 4 months ago | (#46531761)

Great, naming an institute doing something intellectually repulsive after him. How little things change.

Re:I'm fucking offended. (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 4 months ago | (#46531869)

It really depends on what the product will be used for, doesn't it. I mean you don't need to name a public institute to do that. You could just as well hire people into GCHQ. So my guess is that it's nothing to do with intelligence as such; simply the government trying to pick a winner for the future. And as we know, government is absolutely terrible at doing that. It's £42 million down the drain I suppose.

Re:I'm fucking offended. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46534357)

I'm offended by the hero worship that says historically inaccurate rubbish like Turing's "codebreaking work led to the cracking of the German 'Enigma' codes." No it didn't. That myth really really needs to go away. It was mathematician Marian Rejewski who led the way and first broke the Enigma with HIS codebreaking work. More importantly it was Rejewski who designed the Bomba which led the way for computer analysis. With the imminent invasion of Poland by the Germans the Polish mathematicians offered their work to the French (who figured a long line of forts were enough to keep the Hessians away from paris and so they didn't need to read someone else's mail) and the British. The British accepted the offer and brought the technology to Bletchley Park where it was built on by Turing and others. Meanwhile Rejewski was sidelined by the British despite his obvious brilliance and was no longer allowed to work on cracking Enigma codes.

If it were not for the work of the Polish mathematicians (and particularly the development of the Bomba) it's unlikely the allies would have broken the Enigma cipher at all because of the incremental increases in complexity that the Germans used (like increasing the number of wheels by two) making the cipher much much more difficult to break by hand. While the Poles were unable to break the more difficult cypher in the short time that they had before invasion it was their foundational work that gave the British what they needed to expand upon their work.

Turing is being worshipped like a god because of current political pressure and British arrogance. He was a brilliant man. He died a tragic death. That doesn't change the rest of history nor does it require a rewrite to make the story somehow more dramatic.

http://www.codesandciphers.org.uk/virtualbp/poles/poles.htm

Gay instititue (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46531773)

Big Ass Data. Turing would be proud.

Great idea, although... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 4 months ago | (#46531917)

"I am determined that our country is going to out-compete, out-smart and out-do the rest of the world."

I dunno, for a Britisch chancellor to say that in 2014... I dunno.

Re:Great idea, although... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46532509)

"I am determined that our country is going to out-compete, out-smart and out-do the rest of the world."

I dunno, for a Britisch chancellor to say that in 2014... I dunno.

At least we have you beat on spelling though, eh?

Re:Great idea, although... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46538783)

Canadian? or Queenslander?

Good Luck (1)

zisel (3561213) | about 4 months ago | (#46531967)

I hope that those data will be use in good outcome.

Pardon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46531987)

"Turing received a posthumous royal pardon, for a conviction of homosexual activity in 1952"

His conviction should be overturned. Giving him a pardon is not the same thing.

And this big data institute being named after him is disgusting. Government showing they have no shame.

Re:Pardon? (2)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 4 months ago | (#46532129)

You can't overturn a 1952 conviction for something that was against the law in 1952. That would make the legal system a complete nonsense, with people's convictions for past illegal acts being overturned as the law changed.

are they sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46532009)

Are they sure they want to immortalize a disgusting deviant like him?
After all they did fire him, and prevented him from working on anything classified ever again.
Because, you know, gays are communists or something.

Pardon?! (1)

masterfpt (1435165) | about 4 months ago | (#46532199)

Isn't a "pardon" implying he did something wrong? I'm not British, but I feel the word "pardon" means someone did something bad and was forgiven... Shouldn't it read "Turing received a posthumous royal Apology"? Ah, but royalty is "never wrong", right? ;o)

Re:Pardon?! (3, Informative)

u38cg (607297) | about 4 months ago | (#46532385)

Strictly speaking, all a pardon does in UK law is remove the burden of the sentence. It is not a declaration of innocence and basically means nothing more than a get-out-of-jail card. Historically it was only used where it had practical effect, where someone was subject to a sentence of death or was still in prison. More recently, it has been used for things like pardoning deserters shot during WWI.

Re:Pardon?! (1)

dkf (304284) | about 4 months ago | (#46533175)

Strictly speaking, all a pardon does in UK law is remove the burden of the sentence.

In Turing's case, there'd also been an official apology previously, and so there was no official reason to issue an apology along with the pardon. (There won't be a declaration of innocence because he admitted committing what was a crime at the time. The myriad problems with the case weren't with the law as such, so much as everything else around it.)

It's a good thing that the law in this area was changed, even if it was changed later than some might have wished for.

Re:Pardon?! (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | about 4 months ago | (#46534715)

It's a good thing that the law in this area was changed, even if it was changed later than some might have wished for.

It's a pity the law was made in the first place...

Re:Pardon?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46532537)

At the time he did it, what he did was a crime. Now, you may argue that it shouldn't have been (and I would agree with you), but the fact that it has become legal now does not mean that he did not break the law as it stood at the time.

In the same way, I'm fairly sure that alcohol smugglers imprisoned under Prohibition weren't all released from jail when it was overturned.

Re:Pardon?! (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 4 months ago | (#46532933)

The government issued an apology several years ago.

And yes, he did something wrong according to the law at the time, regardless of whether the law has since changed or societies feelings toward such a law has changed - are we to go through every single conviction back to the dawn of time to pardon and apologise to every single person in the same situation every time a law changes?

Alan Turing isn't special, he's just famous. And he gets an apology and a pardon because of it.

Re:Pardon?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46539541)

> Alan Turing isn't special, he's just famous. And he gets an apology and a pardon because of it.

I suspect that you aren't factoring in his "saving the country" bit. That was pretty special - and ought to be especially special on a geek forum like this. There were a lot of people who were convicted, but it's specifically unjust that the country repaid him the way it did (rather than, say, re-evaluating the reasons why the law stood as it did, which ultimately happened 15 years too late).

Fact is, nobody stood up and said loudly: "if a man like Turing is going to get caught by this law, then we need to take a look at what the hell we think we're doing!". That's why we the people need to apologize - we forgot to be kind and grateful.

(8)5 things we need to know about bushwhackings (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46532381)

more & more hysterical is the mood swing http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=weather%20manipulate%20bushwhacking%2085&sm=3

Shame on the UK goverment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46532455)

THEY CHEMICALLY CASTRATED HIM AT THE TIME AND ONLY NOW OFFER A PARDON

Turning was a maths genius... It's not a coincidence that computers are called 'turning' machines... the guy was one of the first people to figure any calculation can be done in binary - hence by a machine that can store 0's and 1's. He made computing possible and also broke the enigma machine codes to stop Hitler and the Natzi's... quite fitting that a gay man cracked the german codes . From what I undertsand, the enigma machine was very well designed (it was made by the Germans) and should have been impossible to crack if it wasn't for Mr Turning and his amazing brain.

Re:Shame on the UK goverment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46532697)

At least we know his name was actually Turing.

Re:Shame on the UK goverment (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | about 4 months ago | (#46534775)

Those damn Natzi's must have distracted her...

Re:Shame on the UK goverment (1)

deodiaus2 (980169) | about 4 months ago | (#46534169)

By design, the Enigma had an extra encryption permutation wheel which was always set to 0. Had that been used, the difficulty in cracking the codes would have been far more difficult by 1943 standards. The Nazi's were too arrogant and did not want to deal with the extra logistics involved with having to communicate this extra setting. Shows you what happens when bureaucrats instead of engineers make decisions.

Re:Shame on the UK goverment (1)

NikeHerc (694644) | about 4 months ago | (#46535855)

From what I undertsand, the enigma machine was very well designed (it was made by the Germans) and should have been impossible to crack if it wasn't for Mr Turning and his amazing brain.

Not to take anything away from Turing's brilliant work, but his Enigma accomplishments were based on the work of Polish cryptologists Rejewski, Rozycki, and Zygalski, who were breaking Enigma messages in 1932 [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enigma_machine/ [wikipedia.org] ].

I thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46532791)

They were using their drones to look for that missing airplane?

about time (2)

NikeHerc (694644) | about 4 months ago | (#46534935)

It's about time the Brits recognized Alan Turing. Without his Enigma and other crypto accomplishments, you might be speaking German.

Re:about time (1)

Misagon (1135) | about 4 months ago | (#46535649)

This new institute for spying tech is not the first research institute named after Alan Turing.

The Turing Institute [wikipedia.org] was a laboratory for Artificial Intelligence in Glasgow, founded in 1983 and closed down in 1994.

The new institute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46537825)

will be lead by the GCHQ

Eglomise painting of A Turing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46572381)

A few years ago I commissioned an eglomise painting of A. Turing to pay tribute to this genius and great man. This painting is now my property, but I would be delighted to give it to any foundation which would suit my purpose. Would any be interested in this project, please feel free to get in touch. Yves Couvreur. valmont@skynet.be

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