There are lots of events celebrating the 100th anniversary of Turing’s birth. The ACM is having a meeting of 34 Turing Fellows, which it has been advertising for a while in its flagship magazine the Communications of the ACM. It looks like an interesting program, and I hope it took up diversity in the field.
I hope that the Program, particularly the panel on Turing the man, had the important discussion about advocating for the type of diversity that if it had existed during Turing’s time would have hopefully prevented his untimely suicide. Turing’s story is not just one of amazing contributions to Computing and to the War Effort, but also one about a cruel and intolerant world that surrounded him. Being from the same country as Turing is a reminder of what people acting in my name, i.e., the British Government/legal system, saw as criminal and how they punished him for it.
I am curious, did the ACM meeting discuss the Computing environment as a topic for reflection and discussion. I think it’s far too easy to overlook it in favor of discussing far safer and easier topics (and there’s an impressive list of them on the program, all of Turing’s accomplishments and their continuing impact on the discipline). But, this seems like the time and place for a harder discussion, one that the role models that we have identified in Computing, the Turing Fellows, have a lot to contribute too by setting directions for the field. I hope that the meeting discussed the question of how we are doing with respect to creating an environment in Computing that doesn’t leave anyone out irrespective of their race, gender or sexual orientation.