TURING DOCUMENTARY: BLOG

Reaction to Turing’s Pardon

09a-young-turing-portraitThe Queen’s posthumous pardon of Alan Turing has received a strong response from around the world.  Here’s a summary of reaction to the pardon from politicians, pundits, and Turing experts.

British Justice Minister Chris Grayling requested the pardon from Queen Elizabeth II.  He said: “Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind…His later life was overshadowed by his conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed.  Dr Turing deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science.  A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.”

David CameronBritish Prime Minister David Cameron said, “His action saved countless lives.  He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the ‘father of modern computing.’”

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Sharkey, the man who introduced the Turing pardon bill in the House of Lords, said: “This has demonstrated wisdom and compassion.  It has recognised a very great British hero and made some amends for the cruelty and injustice with which Turing was treated.  It’s a wonderful thing, but we are not quite finished yet.  I will continue to campaign for all those convicted as Turing was, simply for being gay, to have their convictions disregarded.  That will be a proper and fitting and final end to the Turing story.”

Openly gay Conservative Member of Parliament Iain Stewart told the Associated Press:  “He helped preserve our liberty.  We owed it to him in recognition of what he did for the country — and indeed the free world — that his name should be cleared.”

Actor Stephen Fry tweeted, “At bloody last. Next step a banknote if there’s any justice!”

S. Barry Cooper, a University of Leeds mathematician who has written about Turing’s work, told the AP that future generations would struggle to understand how Turing was persecuted.   “You take one of your greatest scientists, and you invade his body with hormones.  It was a national failure,” said Cooper.

A3-Hodges-headshot_100Turing biographer Dr Andrew Hodges told The Guardian:  ”Alan Turing suffered appalling treatment 60 years ago and there has been a very well-intended and deeply felt campaign to remedy it in some way.  Unfortunately, I cannot feel that such a ‘pardon’ embodies any good legal principle.  If anything, it suggests that a sufficiently valuable individual should be above the law which applies to everyone else.  It’s far more important that in the 30 years since I brought the story to public attention, LGBT rights movements have succeeded with a complete change in the law – for all.  So, for me, this symbolic action adds nothing.  A more substantial action would be the release of files on Turing’s secret work for GCHQ in the cold war.  Loss of security clearance, state distrust and surveillance may have been crucial factors in the two years leading up to his death in 1954.”

Turing biographer David Leavitt told the AP:  “It could be argued and it has been argued that he shortened the war, and that possibly without him the Allies might not have won the war.  That’s highly speculative, but I don’t think his contribution can be underestimated.  It was immense.”

patrick_sammon_100bPatrick Sammon, the Executive Producer and Creator of CODEBREAKER said, “The pardon of Alan Turing is an important gesture, but of course nothing can be done to change the injustice that he suffered.  It should never be forgotten. And it’s important to remember that tens of thousands of other men in the UK were arrested for the same ‘crime.’  Many men, like Turing, had their lives destroyed.”

British human rights activist Peter Tatchell told the AP that all the men who were arrested for the same “crime” as Turing should also be pardoned.  “Everyone should be equal under the law.  It’s wrong to give famous privileged pardons.”

Tatchell-PeterTatchell told BBC:  “I pay tribute to the government for ensuring Alan Turing has a royal pardon at last but I do think it’s very wrong that other men convicted of exactly the same offence are not even being given an apology, let alone a royal pardon.  We’re talking about at least 50,000 other men who were convicted of the same offence, of so-called gross indecency, which is simply a sexual act between men with consent.”

Dr Sue Black, a computer scientist, who was part of the campaign to gain a pardon for Turing, told BBC that she hoped all men convicted under the same law would now be pardoned.  “This is one small step on the way to making some real positive change happen to all the people that were convicted.  It’s a disgrace that so many people were treated so disrespectfully.”

Dame-Nancy-Rothwell-007Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, the president and vice chancellor of the University of Manchester, where Turing worked the last years of his life told The Telegraph: “He was a hugely significant figure in the world of mathematics and the development of the modern computer at the University of Manchester. His legacy will live on as one of the most significant scientists of his or any other generation.”

Iain Standen, the chief executive of the Bletchley Park Trust, called Turing, “a visionary mathematician and genius whose work contributed enormously both to the outcome of the war and the computer age.  The pardon gives further recognition for his outstanding contribution not only to second world war codebreaking but also the development of computing.”

British home computing pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair told BBC, “I just think it’s ridiculous, frankly.  He’s been dead these many years so what’s the point?  It’s a silly nonsense.  He was such a fine, great man, and what was done was appalling of course.  It makes no sense to me, because what’s done is done.”

Turing Award winner and internet pioneer Vint Cerf told BBC that he welcomed the development.  “The royal pardon for Alan Turing rights a long-standing wrong and properly honours a man whose imagination and intellect made him legendary in our field.”

The Queen Pardons Alan Turing

Queen Elizabeth II has issued a Christmas Eve pardon of Alan Turing.  British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said Turing deserved to be “remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort” and not for his 1952 criminal conviction for having a sexual relationship with another man.  After the conviction, Turing was forced to… Read More

CODEBREAKER Now Available on DVD

The DVD of CODEBREAKER is now on sale!

Turing Set to Receive Pardon

The British Government says it will support efforts to give a posthumous pardon for Alan Turing.  This important development was announced on Friday as the House of Lords was debating a bill to pardon Turing.
Here’s more from the Daily Mail.  “In the House of Lords yesterday, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a whip, said the Government… Read More

Bletchley Park Renovations Start Soon

Work soon will begin on a major renovation of Bletchley Park — the wartime home for Great Britain’s codebreaking effort.  Alan Turing was at the heart of the effort to crack Germany’s Enigma code.  Historians say the British codebreaking effort shortened the war by two years and saved millions of lives.
In the decades after the… Read More

Turing Film Nominated for GLAAD Award

CODEBREAKER has been nominated for a 2013 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary.  The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor U.S. media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives.  “This nomination is a great honor,” says Patrick Sammon, one of the film’s Executive Producers. “We… Read More

Turing Film Wins Award in Europe

CODEBREAKER has received the Audience Award at the  2012 European Science TV & New Media Awards.  The Film’s director, Clare Beavan, accepted the award at a late November ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal.
The European Science TV and New Media Festival took place last July in Dublin, Ireland.  The event featured two dozen science related films from across Europe.  Audiences selected… Read More

Turing Film Set for U.S. Theatrical Premiere

TODpix, in conjunction with Story Center Productions and Furnace, announces the U.S. Theatrical Premiere of CODEBREAKER in Washington, DC on October 17, 2012 and New York City on October 25th.  “We’re excited to offer this compelling and unique new film to American audiences,” says TODpix President Andrew Fogelson. “It’s an incredible story that will capture the… Read More

Turing Film In the News

A public radio program in the United States recently featured a segment about CODEBREAKER.  “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” a nationally syndicated show broadcasting on 180 radio stations in the US, examines the big ideas impacting our world.   This week’s program focused on Alan Turing’s life and legacy.  The show included a segment about… Read More

Turing Film Receives Recognition in Europe

CODEBREAKER is receiving accolades in Europe from several quarters.
The film is a finalist to receive two awards from The European Science TV & New Media Festival.  The mid-July festival in Dublin, Ireland showcased science films from across Europe.  CODEBREAKER is one of three finalists being considered for a Jury Award and one of four finalists… Read More

Turing in the News

In recent weeks, there have been a number of excellent radio programs, interviews, and videos about the life and legacy of Alan Turing.  Here are links to some of them.

Professor David Leavitt, featured in CODEBREAKER and the author of a Turing biography, was interviewed during a recent episode of Science Friday on National Public Radio… Read More

Turing Committed Suicide: Case Closed

By Patrick Sammon & Paul Sen
The evidence is clear that Alan Turing committed suicide on June 7, 1954.  A recent analysis by Professor Jack Copeland aims to call this conclusion into question.   Based on previously public information and new research that our team conducted during the production of CODEBREAKER, we believe the evidence strongly supports… Read More

Turing in the Spotlight in Parliament

Alan Turing was in the spotlight this week at a hearing in the British Parliament.  Julian Huppert, the MP for Cambridge, led a discussion about Turing’s life and legacy and how the United Kingdom  should do more to recognize his contributions to the world.
The MK News featured an article about the debate: “MPs campaigning to… Read More

Turing Film Ratings from Australia

Some good news from down under!  The ratings are in from Australia.  CODEBREAKER had an average audience of 327,000 viewers.  The Alan Turing film broadcast Friday night June 8th on SBS One. Of those people watching TV in the five capital cities at the time CODEBREAKER was shown, 7.3% were watching the film.  Nationwide, the… Read More

Remembering Alan Turing

In the week leading up to the centennial of Alan Turing’s birth on June 23rd, there have been a lot of interesting articles about Turing and his contribution to our modern world.
BBC.com features six articles about Turing examining his life and his legacy.  Vint Cerf, a Turing Award winner and Google’s Chief internet evangelist, writes,… Read More

Honoring Alan Turing

June 7th marks the 58th anniversary of Alan Turing’s tragic suicide.  His life was short, but his legacy lives on.  Here are some quotes about Alan Turing from people we interviewed for CODEBREAKER:
“The things that he contributed to computer science weren’t the things that just happened to be true in one particular year or one… Read More

Codebreaker Scheduled to Broadcast in Australia

SBS One will broadcast CODEBREAKER next week in Australia.  The hour-long version of the film is scheduled to transmit on Friday June 8th at 9:35pm (Sydney time).  The broadcast in Australia will come just one day after the 58th anniversary of Alan Turing’s suicide.
SBS is a highly respected Australian public television network with a strong… Read More

Alan Turing’s Intellectual Roots

Part of CODEBREAKER focuses on the time that Alan Turing spent at Sherborne School, a boarding school in Dorset, England.  Turing attended the school from 1926 until he started at King’s College, Cambridge in 1931.  The film features newly uncovered information about the books he checked out between 1928 & 1931.  The list offers clues… Read More

Turing’s Cathedral

A new book about the origins of our digital universe is getting wide news coverage around the globe.  Historian George Dyson’s book is called Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe.  Check out a recent interview with Dyson on MSNBC.
Here’s how the book is described on  Amazon.com: “’It is possible to invent a single… Read More

A.I. Pioneer Wins Turing Award

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has named Judea Pearl winner of the 2011 Turing Award, the highest honor in computer science.  Pearl, a Professor at UCLA, developed two branches of calculus that paved the way for modern artificial intelligence.
Pearl told US News & World Report, “I think the voice recognition systems that we constantly… Read More

Pardon for Turing to be Reconsidered

The Commons leader says he’ll take another look at the British Government’s decision to deny a pardon to Alan Turing, but it’s not likely the outcome will be different.  Sir George Young offered to re-examine the case after being lobbied by Tory MP Iain Stewart who holds a seat in Milton Keynes south, which includes… Read More

New Exhibition Shows Personal Side of Turing

Bletchley Park has opened a new permanent exhibition of some personal items that belonged to Alan Turing.  Bletchley Park was the codebreaking center where Turing worked during World War II.  The items on display include a teddy bear that Turing bought in school, a treasured Swiss watch, and a book that he won as a… Read More

Watch New Trailer for Turing Film

Here’s a new two-minute trailer for the Alan Turing film.  CODEBREAKER is the title we have selected.  Stay tuned in the months ahead for details about the worldwide distribution plan for this drama-documentary.

New Research Validates Turing’s Morphogenesis Theory

More evidence today showing how far Alan Turing lived ahead of his time.  Researchers in London have announced confirmation of Turing’s 60 year-old morphogenesis theory.  The findings also advance the understanding of regenerative medicine.
The Telegraph reports on new research, unveiled in the current issue of Nature Genetics. “In his 1952 paper The Chemical Basis of… Read More

Listen to Soundtrack from Turing Film

Edward White in the United Kingdom composed the music for Channel 4′s broadcast of “Britain’s Greatest Codebreaker.”  Check out this song he wrote. It’s called “Computable Numbers.”  Listen now.

Online Petition Seeks Pardon for Turing

Thousands of people in the United Kingdom have signed a petition asking the government to offer a posthumous pardon for Turing’s 1952 conviction on charges of gross indecency.  Almost 18,000 people have signed the e-petition. If 100,000 people sign the petition, the issue becomes eligible for discussion in the House of Commons.
Professor Barry Cooper, Chair… Read More

Turing Film News Coverage

Newspapers in the United Kingdom provided extensive coverage in connection with the recent broadcast of “Britain’s Greatest Codebreaker” on Channel 4 in the UK.  The news articles highlighted Turing’s story and our film’s approach to telling it.  The papers featuring stories and reviews about the film included The Times, The Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Daily… Read More

Turing Film Attracts 1.5 Million Viewers in the UK

“Britain’s Greatest Codebreaker” attracted an audience in the United Kingdom of about 1.5 million viewers on Channel 4’s November 21st broadcast. Until December 20th, people in the UK can watch the film streaming on Channel 4’s website.
International distribution plans for the film are being developed now.  Stay tuned for details in the months… Read More

Turing Film Scheduled for UK Broadcast

Channel 4 in the United Kingdom has announced a broadcast date for the Turing film. We’re very excited to tell you that “Britain’s Greatest Codebreaker” will air on Monday, November 21st at 9pm. Thanks to Channel 4 and Google for sponsoring a preview of the film in London last night. You can find… Read More

Hollywood Plans Turing Film

Warner Brothers has reportedly signed a seven-figure deal to buy a script about the life of Alan Turing.  Deadline reports that Leonardo DiCaprio is interested in being cast as Turing. The script is based on “Alan Turing: The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges. Read more.
News of this Hollywood feature film comes as production on our… Read More

Bletchley Park Loses a Friend

A leader of the effort to preserve Bletchley Park died this past weekend. 80 year-old Tony Sale helped found the Bletchley Park Trust in 1991. He also led the effort to reconstruct Colossus, the world’s first operational computer. Colossus was built in 1944 to break codes from the German Lorenz.   Hitler… Read More

The Queen Honors Turing & Other Codebreakers

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh unveiled a monument on Friday at Bletchley Park to honor the men and women whose codebreaking helped defeat Nazi Germany.
The Queen toured the facility and met with people who worked at Bletchley Park during World War II.   In a speech after unveiling an eight foot monument,… Read More

Alan Turing’s Birthday

Alan Turing was born 99 years ago today on 23 June 1912 in London.  He was born at what is now the Collanade Hotel located near the Warwick Avenue tube station in Little Venice. It’s appropriate on this day to think about Turing’s many contributions to our world. A short life, but a long… Read More

Remembering Alan Turing

Tuesday June 7th marks the 57th anniversary of Alan Turing’s death. During research for this film, it has been an honor for the production team to talk with people who knew and worked with Turing. Their memories and fond recollections remind us that he wasn’t just a great scientist and an amazing thinker… Read More

Obama & Turing

President Barack Obama mentioned Alan Turing this week during his speech in London to both houses of Parliament.  “From Newton and Darwin to Edison and Einstein; from Alan Turing to Steve Jobs, we have led the world in our commitment to science and cutting-edge research; the discovery of new medicines and technologies,” said President Obama.

Read… Read More

My Favourite Scientist

Alan Turing is featured in a video segment from Nottingham Trent University.  “My Favourite Scientist” includes interviews with various university researchers describing their heroes from science.  Dr. Jonathan Tepper explains why Alan Turing is his favourite scientist.

CODEBREAKER DVD

If you would like to pay by check, please email the producers of the film.

The DVD of CODEBREAKER has subtitles in English, French, Spanish, and German. It’s NTSC format. Aside from playing in NTSC DVD players, this format will play in newer PAL DVD players and on all computers.
** The CODEBREAKER DVD is available to… Read More

Turing Film Builds Momentum

Word is spreading about plans for this documentary, showing once again the global interest in Alan Turing’s story. In the last 72 hours, 6,000 people from 105 different countries and territories have visited turingfilm.com.  YouTube views of the teaser have almost doubled in the last three days–up to nearly 14,000 total. Still… Read More

Turing Test in the Spotlight

The Author of a new book about artificial intelligence recently appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  The Most Human Human explores how computers are changing our concept of what it means to be human.  Brian Christian centers his book on the 2009 Loebner Prize competition in Brighton, England.  He participated in… Read More

Poker Players vs. Computers

First computers mastered chess. Recently it was “Jeopardy!” Now computers are getting much better at poker.  The New York Times recently reported on the efforts of online gambling websites to crack down against poker bots.
“But artificial intelligence has come a long way in the last few years, far enough that poker bots are… Read More

A New Turing Test?

Two computer scientists propose a new approach for comparing human intelligence with non-human intelligence.  The Economist has a story about it. Here is part of the story:
“The most famous test for artificial intelligence is that devised by Alan Turing, a British computing pioneer. To pass the Turing test, and thus be considered intelligent, a program… Read More

Collection of Turing Papers Saved from Auction

The Bletchley Park Trust announces a big breakthrough in its effort to secure a rare collection of Alan Turing’s offprints.  The collection belonged to Turing’s close friend and fellow code breaker, Professor Max Newman.  It includes 16 offprints of Turing’s published works including his historic paper On Computable Numbers.
The Turing-Newman Collection went on the… Read More

Alan Turing’s Patterns in Nature

Wired.com has an article about Turing’s groundbreaking work in morphogenesis.  The article takes you on a Turing pattern tour.  Read more.
“Near the end of his life, the great mathematician Alan Turing wrote his first and last paper on biology and chemistry, about how a certain type of chemical reaction ought to produce many patterns… Read More

UK Considers Honor for Turing

The parliamentary Science and Technology Committee wants the British government’s newly announced Technology and Innovation Centres (TIC) named in honor of Alan Turing.  The government has set aside £200m to set up a network of TICs.   The committee wants these new facilities called “Turing Centres.”
Andrew Miller MP, chair of the Science and… Read More

Watson, Turing, Minsky & the Future of AI

The verdict is in. Watson is the winner in this Battle of the Titans on Jeopardy! The much publicized game show contest between the IBM super computer and the two greatest Jeopardy contestants ever ended in a blowout. Read an Associated Press article about what happened in this showdown between man and machine.

What does it all mean?

Mind, Machine, & the Turing Test:

The new issue of The Atlantic has an interesting article about the Turing Test. Science writer and poet Brian Christian centers his article on the 2009 Loebner Prize competition in Brighton, England. Christian participated in the contest as one of the people interacting with the computers. His book on the subject… Read More

Turing’s Story Needs to be Told

Here’s a blog post about this project from my friend Dr. Sue Black, the founder of Saving Bletchley Park.
“I met Patrick Sammon, President of Story Center Films, last year when he was over in London. We share a love of Alan Turing and respect for his immense legacy and spent a happy couple of hours… Read More

The Wonder of Watson

As the father of artificial intelligence, Alan Turing surely would be impressed with IBM’s new supercomputer. Watson, as it’s called, will compete next month on Jeopardy, the popular television game show.
A practice round last week gained lots of media attention and speculation about the future of computer science. Watson, named for IBM founder… Read More

A Message from the Producer

Alan Turing is among the most consequential scientists ever. Despite his lasting impact on our modern world, Turing’s heroic, inspiring, and tragic story remains largely unknown across the world. Now an international production team is working to showcase Turing’s life and legacy in a feature-length documentary film.
I came across Alan Turing’s name almost… Read More

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