Alan Turing Apology

Alan TuringAlan Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science. He cracked the German Enigma Codes in World War II, which saved countless lives and is estimated to have ended the war in Europe two years early. His genius with computer processing showed when he wrote software to play chess before there were computers powerful enough to run his software. His “Turing Test” for determining true artificial intelligence is well known by any student of computer science.

Alan Turing was gay. Due to this, he was convicted by a British court in 1952 and given the choice of either going to prison, or taking forced estrogen injections. He chose the latter and committed suicide two years later at the age of 41. Although it was widely known Turing was gay during World War II, he was too valuable to the war effort for them to act upon their anti-homosexual laws until after the war was over.

I have to wonder what contributions were lost due to the unjust treatment of Alan Turing.

The English have long had the tradition of leaving petitions on the step of their Prime Minister’s office at 10 Downing Street. This is a tradition that has been updated to take advantage of the Internet. It would be appropriate if our government institutions followed suit. I’ve never been a fan of online petititions, because I think they are widely ignored. The English model of not only respecting them, but hosting them, gives the idea much more weight.

A 10 Downing Street petition was started demanding an official apology for the treatment of Alan Turing. On Thursday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an official apology. It is worth reading.

The Electroregeneration Society

Some years ago, XMission held a computer parts “recycling” event in cooperation with Salt Lake City. We were permitted use of a parking lot on the corner of State Street and 400 South, near our offices, for people to bring their household electronics for proper disposal. This disposal consisted of cosponsoring the hauling, destruction, and recycling of raw materials through a local company, GRX.

Although GRX recycles the raw materials in an environmentally friendly way, I was dismayed to see the quantity of usable gear head straight for the chipper. There was literally a football field of electronics at the end of the day, and I would guess that 80% of it was still in functional condition. Because I have long used Linux for the majority of my business at XMission, I knew that older PC’s can serve many people’s Internet and computing needs just fine.

An organization in California, the Alameda County Computer Resource Center is a model for what I envision for Utah. Although they have subsisted by taking state sponsorship for recycling, my experience with non-profits makes me believe an organization could be viable with donations. Thusly, I am proud to announce the formation of The Electroregeneration Society. I recently moved into a larger warehouse to support one of my other passions, and in addition to sharing it with the embryonic Computer Graphics Museum, there is space for this project.

Here is the draft mission statement: The Electroregeneration Society is a non-profit dedicated to the reuse and repurpose of household and industrial electronics, primarily computers. Low-income, educational organizations, non-profits, and disabled individuals may receive fully functional computers for free. Hobbyists and enthusiasts may purchase hardware or volunteer their time in exchange. Hardware is received in donation as a write-off from businesses, government, organizations, and individuals.”

Tonight at 6pm there will be an initial meeting. The address is at 555 S 400 W in Salt Lake City. Please consider contributing however you can!