Alan Turing

Alan TuringName: Alan Turing
Died: June 7, 1954
Age at death: 41
Cause of death: Suicide
Location: Wilmslow, England, UK

Details:
Alan Turing was a mathematician and computer scientist. He is well-known for his pioneering work in computer programming and for his work in cryptanalysis, breaking German ciphers during World War II. His "Turing test" for artificial intelligence is a household word.

Turing was never diagnosed with autism, but modern analysis of his life suggests that Turing had strong autistic traits and might, if he had lived today, have been diagnosed with Asperger's. He had poor social skills, socialized rarely, and was totally absorbed in his current interests, filling his house with related clutter and writing long letters about his interests even to people with no scientific background. He was clumsy and had odd body language. He was certainly eccentric; he once wore a gas mask while cycling through the countryside to protect himself from an allergic reaction to pollen.

Turing's autism probably contributed to his arrest and conviction for "gross indecency". Shortly after he became romantically involved with a young man, the young man's friend robbed his house, and Turing's lover told Turing who had done it. Turing went to the police. Naively, he admitted to being gay. He was charged for having committed "homosexual acts" and pled guilty even though he did not feel he had done anything wrong.

Turing was released on condition that he undergo chemical castration by taking female hormones. The conviction ruined his life. Britain removed his security clearance, and he was denied entry to the United States. The hormones caused impotence and gynecomastia.

Two years after his conviction, Turing committed suicide by ingesting cyanide.

After a 2009 online petition gathered thousands of signatures, the British government granted Turing a full pardon on December 24, 2013, nearly sixty years after his initial conviction. Turing continues to be admired as an example of a mathematical genius and mourned as a victim of homophobic prejudice.

References:
Did Alan Turing have Asperger syndrome?
An Autistic Genius Saves the World: The Alan Turing Story
Wikipedia: Alan Turing
Alan Turing, British code-breaker castrated for homosexuality, receives pardon

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