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Alan Turing — Top Secret Servant

Yesterday we recognized the 77th anniversary of D-Day — The historic allied assault on Normandy that defeated the Nazis and ended WWII.

But today, we recognize a tragedy that occurred 69 years ago. On this day in 1954, the person that made the D-Day victory possible committed suicide. It was 8 years after his invention helped end the war, and 50 years before the world would learn his name.

Alan Turing

Photo from National Portrait Gallery

Let’s rewind several years, before he took his life, to 1952. The first airbags were being installed in Buicks, and a new vaccine was effectively eradicating Polio. Innovation was booming in the post-war era. However, the greatest engineer of the time was unknown to the public.

His machine cracked the nearly impossible Enigma code, which allowed Churchill and the British forces to understand messages the Germans still believed to be encrypted. This insight derived from Turing’s electric computation machine saved millions of lives and cut the war short by years.

The Bombe - Turing's Computer

Just 10 years after his invention was used to save his country, The United Kingdom, from an imminent downfall, that very government charged Alan with “Gross Indecency”, and chemically castrated him as punishment for his "crime." They medically altered the very mind responsible for the crown's survival, because he was homosexual.

Not long after Alan Turing was shamed and forcibly medicated for his "condition", he took his own life. Invisible to the world that he saved ten years earlier.

In the time since his death, some progress has been made towards accepting differences. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Particularly among the greatest benefactors of Alan’s work — the Armed Forces.

The Visible Light Spectrum

Social Identity

The internet is the great-grandchild of Alan Turing’s work. His “electronic computation machine”, now known simply as "the computer”. A machine that used to take up a whole room to calculate a restaurant tip, that can now remotely control aircraft from a pocket-sized device.

Despite the marvels that have been gifted to us by "different" minds, hate crimes still occur commonly right here in America — the Land of the Free — especially on the internet.

The social identity theory lends some insight to behaviors that stem from perceived group membership. The survival-oriented reactions that humans perform when they belong to a group (Tajfel, 1979).

But what if your group’s identity is diversity?

Could an organism like this survive? Or would it self-consume from the inside out, to “protect” itself from what it couldn’t process?

It's a crazy idea. To "Unite States". To identify as a member of a group that accepts members of other groups. But that's what we are — crazy Americans.

“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” - Alan Turing

Freelance Corporal uses computers to help reduce the greatest threat to U.S. service members today — suicide.

We owe a great debt to Alan Turing for the tools he left us. We will use them to make the world a better place for everyone.


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