Toast to Turing

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 09/20/2009 - 13:13

I was pointed to this Toast to Turing, by Matt Harvey. Very much worth sharing.

Here’s a toast to Alan Turing
born in harsher, darker times
who thought outside the container
and loved outside the lines
and so the code-breaker was broken
and we’re sorry
yes now the s-word has been spoken
the official conscience woken
– very carefully scripted but at least it’s not encrypted –
and the story does suggest
a part 2 to the Turing Test:
1. can machines behave like humans?
2. can we?

What, don't you know who Alan Turing was? Read a bit on him then, one of the core seminal minds for Computer Science. And a scientist vilified for being different from what is regarded as normal.

[update] And answering to some people's doubts: Why this toast? Because the UK Government, in the voice of the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, after over 50 years of leading Alan Turing to commit suicide due to criminally accusing him for gross indecency for being a homosexual and forcing him into a deep body-altering hormonal therapy to cure him, has finally posthumously apologized. Brown said, So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better.

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Sven Mueller's picture

Original source of poem

The poem was originally published here as far as I can tell:

And yes, it is indeed worth sharing.

gwolf's picture


I had heard it was from a BBC program, but was unable to find the source. Thank you!

carocr's picture


I read about the apologies, and also was a little bit surprised about this public participation thing at British government's website... and I confess I didn't know who he was, nor what he did... so, it's not a real "we are sorry" but at least, more an more people can admire Alan Turing now (I do). And the poem, I really liked it... and now I remember you told me about this poetry written in source code.Please send me some!

gwolf's picture

Code beauty, code poetry

Yesterday I was precisely writing about beauty and art as a motivation factor for Free Software developers (authorized users only for now, sorry to the rest of you! — Caro is an authorized user for our project)

Anyway, you can refer to great examples of code poetry in the Programming Perl Book — You can read (parts of) it on Google Books, go to the «Perl culture» chapter (p.645), you will find plenty. Quoting a simple example (from said book):

  1. #!/usr/bin/perl
  3. APPEAL:
  5. listen (please, please);
  7. open yourself, wide;
  8. join (you, me),
  9. connect (us, together),
  11. tell me.
  13. do something if distressed;
  15. @dawn, dance;
  16. @evening, sing;
  17. read (books,$poems,stories) until peaceful;
  18. study if able;
  20. write me if-you-please;
  22. sort your feelings, reset goals, seek (friends, family, anyone);
  24. do*not*die (like this)
  25. if sin abounds;
  27. keys (hidden), open (locks, doors), tell secrets;
  28. do not, I-beg-you, close them, yet.
  30. accept (yourself, changes),
  31. bind (grief, despair);
  33. require truth, goodness if-you-will, each moment;
  35. select (always), length(of-days)
  37. # listen (a perl poem)
  38. # Sharon Hopkins
  39. # rev. June 19, 1995

gwolf's picture

Some more examples (cannot... resist...)

You got me in search mood :-}

And many more, I am sure you will be able to find by yourself :)