To celebrate Pride in London this year, we have named Alan Turing as our ‘Pride Hero’ as a mark of respect to one of the UK’s most brilliant minds.
On the day Alan’s great niece Clare Dowling is one of the surviving family members who will be joining us to take part in the celebrations.
Before this weekend’s event I caught up with Clare to find out more about his fascinating life, and how his incredible personality has captured the public imagination.
“The family are very proud that Alan has been named as Fujitsu’s Hero for this year’s Pride. It’s such a fantastic way to celebrate his life and achievements,” she said.
“What’s so interesting about him is how he was able to apply his knowledge in lots of different areas outside of his main field of interest.
“A lot of what he did after the war is not talked about as much. For instance, his work on pattern formation in biology was proven just recently, some 60 years after he died.
“Alan was very much a great thinker ahead of his time. It’s such a shame his life was cut short, when you think about what he could have achieved.
“He predicted that in the future we would be walking in the park, talking into our pocket computers. His vision of where we could go with computing technology was so accurate.”
Alan Turing was a hero of the Second World War, with his team of code breakers at Bletchley Park credited with cracking the Nazi codes on the Enigma machine.
The Turing Test was the first time I came across his work. This tests a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to a human, and has remained a mainstay of artificial intelligence research to this day.
I was fascinated by the test, and wanted to find out more about the man. The evidence to the greatness of work is in him devising a test that still stands more than 70 years later.
For me, Pride is a celebration of where we’ve got to in the UK. We have certainly come a very long way from the days when Alan was alive, where he was persecuted for his sexuality.
Today we should celebrate being a much more tolerant society, but we can go further. It’s all about being diverse and inclusive in all areas.
Clare said the launch of film The Imitation Game last year, a biopic of his time at Bletchley Park, had kick started an almost unprecedented interest in her family.
She said Alan’s personality should be celebrated and remembered, and Pride in London was the perfect outlet to do that.
“In the film he came across as quite an eccentric character and we don’t want to shy away from that,” she said.
“We’ve heard some wonderful stories about some of the things he did, including chaining his coffee mug to the radiator so no-one else would use it.
“He used to cycle around in a gas mask so he didn’t suffer from hay fever. He was also very good with children – and my aunts have very fond memories of him.”
Alan should have been respected far more than he was. I believe we all need to recognise that difference is incredibly important, both for us all as individuals and for organisations. We hope we can do the great man justice this year at Pride!
Follow Fujitsu at Pride for London this Saturday on the #shinewithpride hashtag on Twitter.
He is a BITC Business Connector alumnus, has played a leading part in development of Fujitsu’s Responsible Business and Diversity and Inclusion approach, and is engaged in enhancing Fujitsu’s UK STEM engagement approach.
Martin joined Fujitsu in October 1996.
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