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A cybernetic 'tortoise' devised by William Grey Walter
In August 1951, Turing visited the Science Museum and saw a cybernetic 'tortoise' invented by neurologist William Grey Walter. The 'tortoise' could travel around floors and avoid obstacles, and was attracted to light.
At the time, Grey Walter's neurological institute was also involved in trialling the use of female hormones to reduce libido in homosexual men. Turing, who knew Grey Walter through the cybernetics Ratio Club, was himself was given the choice of prison or chemical castration in 1952 after being found guilty of gross indecency. Turing opted for the course of 'treatment', but was found dead of poisoning in 1954 next to a half-eaten apple.
Then-UK prime minister Gordon Brown apologised for Turing's treatment in 2009, calling it "horrifying".
"It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of the Second World War could have been very different," said Brown. "He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely.
"While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time, and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair, and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him."
'Codebreaker — Alan Turing's life and legacy' runs at the Science Museum from 21 June to 31 July, 2012.
Credit: Science Museum/SSPL
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