Magazine article AI Magazine

AI@50: We Are Golden!

Magazine article AI Magazine

AI@50: We Are Golden!

Article excerpt

* Artificial intelligence (AI), on the 50th anniversary of its naming, is an autonomous discipline. The field has an established record of success, as exemplified by three recent achievements presented at AAAI-06/IAAI-06. It is now mature enough to collaborate productively with its sister disciplines, realizing the dream of ubiquitous computational intelligence.

Happy golden anniversary, artificial intelligence! AI, a field still young as sciences go, is golden in achievement and promise. The 50th anniversary of the naming of our field, at Dartmouth College in 1956, is a time for reminiscence, celebration, and prognostication. We have great successes to celebrate, while most of our failures are along the lines of achieving successful results later than we had predicted in our youthful exuberance. Many of the philosophers who lectured us on what we would never be able to achieve have gone strangely silent.

In our early days, to build identity, recruitment, and morale, we often pumped up AI and sometimes slighted related fields, such as cybernetics and pattern recognition; however, this tactic had some unfortunate side effects including a tendency towards isolation. The divorce of AI from robotics was particularly harmful to both fields. Given both our success and our maturity as a field, we are now more open to collaboration and integration with our sister disciplines. This augurs well for the future. This collaboration will be a major theme over the next 50 years.

Perhaps by the time of our centennial celebration, we will have realized the vision elaborated by Richard Brautigan, in his poem "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace" (Brautigan 1967),

   of a cybernetic meadow
   where mammals and computers
   live together in mutually
   programming harmony
   like pure water
   touching clear sky."

AI is a new autonomous science with its own paradigms. From Thomas Kuhn's perspective (Kuhn 1962), it is an interesting case study. Several of AI's subdisciplines have well-established paradigms. Researchers working within these paradigms share common models, without argument. They are practitioners of Kuhn's "normal" science--filling in boxes and finding new ones, within a shared framework. Other parts of our field seem to be in a state of perpetual revolution. Perhaps most common is a scheme of alternating periods of normal science and revolutionary struggle, with a frequency of alternation higher than that of other disciplines. All this struggle and debate demonstrates the health of the field. AI at 50 shows no signs of impending senility. This struck me particularly forcefully at AAAI-06 in Boston. The youthful enthusiasm and vigorous arguments of all the students and young researchers convinced me that AI, as a field, has a renewed vitality. Now that we need not be anxious about our status and independence, we can collaborate across disciplines without fear of losing our identity. Maybe this is the real meaning of "golden" for us.

One theme common in computer science is ubiquitous computing. I believe that AI has the potential to transform that theme to ubiquitous computational intelligence. Let me give you three examples of the emerging theme of ubiquitous computational intelligence, as illustrated by the talks of three speakers at AAAI-06/IAAI-06. …

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