AI: The Tumultuous History of the Search for Artificial Intelligence

AI: The Tumultuous History of the Search for Artificial Intelligence

AI: The Tumultuous History of the Search for Artificial Intelligence

AI: The Tumultuous History of the Search for Artificial Intelligence

Synopsis

"In the summer of 1956, ten young scientists, some barely out of their doctoral studies, sat down to consider the astounding proposition that "every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can, in principle, be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it." Armed with their own enthusiasm, the excitement of the idea itself, and an infusion of government money, they predicted that the whole range of human intelligence would be programmable within their own lifetimes. Nearly half a century later, the field has grown exponentially - with mixed results. Based on extensive interviews with the major players, including Marvin Minsky, Herbert Simon, Allen Newell, Raj Reddy, and Patrick Winston, AI is part intellectual history, part business history. Rich with anecdotes about the founders and leaders of the field and their celebrated feuds and intellectual gamesmanship, the book chronicles their dramatic successes ("expert" systems, robotics, "smart" technologies, and even world-class chess playing) and their equally dramatic failures (language processing, learning), and shows how early in the next century researchers hope to teach their computers "common sense," the next necessary breakthrough. The story of AI is an exhilarating saga of new programs and new hardware, yet it is also the story of a slow but steady acquisition of knowledge about how humans think. Daniel Crevier traces AI's emergence from the fields of philosophy, mathematics, psychology, and neurology, chronicling the development of primitive computing devices and ultimately the creation of a brave new world described chiefly in acronyms: SOAR, Cyc, EURISKO, among others. The quest for artificial intelligence raises profound issues about the nature of mind and soul as well as fascinating philosophical questions. Will we humans one day have to share our world with entities smarter than ourselves? And can we rely on these creations to make vital decisions for us - business, scientific, legal, and even moral choices? Crevier discusses these questions with the leaders of AI, and they offer some surprising answers." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Not too long ago, if you walked into the computer room of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the first thing you noticed was a winding yellow brick path painted on the floor. At the end of this path, dangling from the ceiling above a large computer, was a resplendent rainbow. In case you missed the first two references, a poster of Judy Garland as Dorothy was taped to the computer's side and the computer itself had been given the nickname Oz.

In reality, Oz was nothing more sophisticated than a mainframe computer controlling a network of smaller computers. But just as an earlier traveler over the rainbow had hoped that a wizard named Oz might be able to fashion a brain for a straw-stuffed friend, the researchers at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab hoped that their Oz might be used to create computer-generated intelligence.

From its inception the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT has occupied most of a tall building in what is known as Technology Square, a section of campus a short jog away from the heart of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Mass Avenue. It was on this campus that I spent far too many days and nights in the early 1970s busily assembling a Ph.D. thesis on a topic related to AI, but different enough to keep me away from the lab itself. While doing my own work, I observed the goings on over at Tech Square with a perplexed and . . .

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