We are honored to have Codebreaker as our FDL Movie Night discussion. Nominated for the 2013 GLAAD Media Award for Best Documentary, Codebreaker is the story of British mathematical genius Alan Turing whose vision shaped the world we now live in, and who was prosecuted and persecuted by the British courts for his sexuality under the same statutes as Oscar Wilde decades earlier.
Turing–whose work during World War II at Bletchley Park, the National Codes and Cipher Centre, had broken the German’s Enigma codes and turned the tide of the war in the Allies favor–was forced to choose between a year in prison or an experimental treatment to “fix” his sexual orientation after police, during the course of burglary investigation, discovered Turing was gay.
Turing’s 1936 paper, “On Computable Numbers,” introduced to the world the idea of computers, and became the cornerstone for our digital world. Fourteen years later, he published “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” a cornerstone paper in the field of artificial intelligence. In 1952, Turing was arrested, plead guilty to the crime of “gross indecency with a male” to minimize the harm to his career.
Rather than go to prison, Turing endured the hormones which drove him to despair and grief and turned his once, fit and trim body bloated and fat. After his conviction, he was stripped of his security clearances, and banned from his offices at Bletchley Park. He committed suicide on June 7th, 1954, a week after his 41st birthday by taking a bite out of a cyanide laden apple.
In 2009, the British government apologized for their treatment of Turing. In December, 2012 Stephen Hawking joined a growing list calling for the government to pardon this hero of the modern age.
Please join us Monday night at 5pm West Coast time on the front page of Firedoglake.com to discuss Codebreaker, Turing’s legacy, his life, and death with Codebreaker executive producer Patrick Sammon.
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