Every one of you reading this owes a huge debt to a man born 100 years ago today, and who died far too young.
Alan Turing was his name, and he was an eccentric mathematical and computer genius.
It has been said he was the one indispensible person in breaking the German Enigma code in the Second World War at Bletchley Park in England. His inspiration and lateral thinking saved countless lives, particularly those aboard convoy ships supplying Britain with vital troops, food and war materiel from North America.
He would later help develop the first practical computer and come up with ideas about artificial intelligence, including its first axiom, the Turing Test: Can an uninformed human in a blind test tell whether he or she is communicating with a computer.
But Alan Turing was also a semi-closeted homosexual, hounded by the zealous minions of the very country he helped save from extinction.
His reward? A conviction for gross indency, revocation of his security clearance, public humiliation and chemical castration. He couldn't even fall back on his war record, because his code-breaking efforts remained classified for decades.
He died after eating a cyanide-laced apple in 1954. Was it murder, accident or suicide? No one outside the shadowy world of the British secret service knows for certain.
While Her Majesty's Government saw fit to "apologise" to Turing in 2009, efforts to have him posthumously pardoned have been spurned.
Why? Officially -- and legalistically, of course -- it's because engaging in homosexual activities was a crime in the England of the 1950s (as it was in many countries), despite what went on in Britain's notorious public schools. Therefore, Alan Turing was lawfully convicted.
Perhaps American mathematician Dennis Hejhal, quoted in The Guardian, said it best: "The real reason is OBVIOUS. They do not want thousands of old men saying pardon us too."
Hejhal goes on to say he hopes the refusal creates a "hullabaloo", and I hope so too -- why shouldn't they all be absolved?
Unhappily, a petition for a Turing pardon to HMG cannot be signed if you're not a resident of the UK or a British citizen. So far, there are more than 34,000 names on it.
As for the mandarins in government, it's pretty obvious to me they fail the Turing Test.