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Communications of the ACM

Historical Reflections

Conjoined Twins: Artificial Intelligence and the Invention of Computer Science

old computer hardware and colored line drawing of a brain, illustration

Credit: Andrij Borys Associates, Everett Collection / Shutterstock

Hype and handwringing concerning artificial intelligence (AI) abound. Technologies for face recognition, automatic transcription, machine translation, the generation of text and images, and image tagging have been deployed on an unprecedented scale and work with startling accuracy. Optimists believe the promises of self-driving cars and humanoid robots; pessimists worry about mass unemployment and human obsolescence; critics call for ethical controls on the use of AI and decry its role in the propagation of racism.

Right now, AI refers almost exclusively to neural network systems able to train themselves against large data-sets to successfully recognize or generate patterns. That is a profound break with the approaches behind previous waves of AI hype. In this column, the first in a series, I will be looking back to the origins of AI in the 1950s and 1960s. Artificial intelligence was born out of the promise that computers would quickly outstrip the ability of human minds to reason and the claim that building artificial minds would shed light on human cognition. Although the deep learning techniques underlying today's systems are relatively new, artificial intelligence was a key component in the emergence of computer science as an academic discipline.


Herbert Bruderer

Perhaps of interest to the readership:

The Birthplace of Artificial Intelligence? | blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM

Unlike Dartmouth, the Paris conference is very well documented, see also (in more detail):

Bruderer, Herbert: Milestones in Analog and Digital Computing, Springer Nature Switzer-land AG, Cham, 3rd edition 2020, 2 volumes, 2113 pages, 715 illustrations, 151 tables,

Bruderer, Herbert: Meilensteine der Rechentechnik, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, Ber-lin/Boston, 3. Auflage 2020, Band 1, 970 Seiten, 577 Abbildungen, 114 Tabellen,

Bruderer, Herbert: Meilensteine der Rechentechnik, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, Ber-lin/Boston, 3. Auflage 2020, Band 2, 1055 Seiten, 138 Abbildungen, 37 Tabellen,

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