World War II hero Alan Turing – who is believed to have taken his own life two years after being convicted of homosexuality under outdated laws – has been revealed as the new face of the £50 note.
The Bank of England has today (July 15) announced that the code-breaker will be honoured on its new £50 note – prompting hot debate on Twitter.
“Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today,” said Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England.
“As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as a war hero, Alan Turing’s contributions were far ranging and path breaking. Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand.”
The new polymer £50 is expected to enter into circulation in 2021. Some on Twitter have described the move as belated justice, others a hollow honour. RightsInfo has here gathered a few of the more thought-provoking responses.
Who Was Alan Turing?
Image of Alan Turing age 16, labelled for reuse, author unknown.
Mr Turing is hailed as being a founding father of computing and is perhaps best known for his work devising code-breaking machines during WWII. He set the foundations for work on artificial intelligence by considering the question of whether machines could think.
He was convicted of gross indecency for his relationship with a man in 1952 and killed himself in 1954. He avoided prison by accepting chemical castration. His security clearance was also removed and he was barred from continuing his work with cryptography at the GCHQ.
But in 2013, he received a posthumous pardon from the Queen.
In 2016, the government introduced a law – referred to as ‘Turing’s Law‘ – which pardons all men convicted under outdated laws criminalising consensual homosexual acts.
— LGBT Foundation (@LGBTfdn) July 15, 2019
‘A Hollow Honour’
I’m sad he’s on the £50 note, hardly any of us will get to see him. He deserves to be on the £5 or £10. Seems like a hollow honour to me.#AlanTuring
— Anna (@AnnaKHB) July 15, 2019
‘A Note That Nowhere Accepts’
I mean the irony of putting his face on a note that nowhere accepts is not lost on me https://t.co/yJjfrCeRDH
— Séancé (@MeltingSwans) July 15, 2019
‘A Father of Modern Computing’
We’re delighted that Alan Turing has been chosen by the @bankofengland as the face of the new £50 note.
— GCHQ (@GCHQ) July 15, 2019
‘Recognised And Celebrated’
I’m very excited to see that Alan Turing will be on the new £50, its fantastic to his contribution to war effort and computer science being continously recognised and celebrated. #alanturing
— Jacob Henley (@jacobchenley) July 15, 2019
‘At least Our Generation Can Honour Him Properly’
Alan Turing is a #LGBT hero.
By cracking the Enigma code with his Bletchley team & he saved millions of lives. Yet his country castrated him because he was gay & committed suicide.
His contemporaries treated him abysmally, at least our generation can honor him properly!#Turing50 pic.twitter.com/DcThL67as4
— Gerry Stergiopoulos (@GerryGreek) July 15, 2019