John McCarthy, the inventor of programming language Lisp and a pioneer in "artificial intelligence" technology, died Monday night. Mashable reports that McCarthy was also one of the first people to propose "selling computing power through a utility business model," in 1961. While the idea didn't gain much traction at the time, it's now coming back in a big way with the use of grid and cloud computing. Tributes to McCarthy poured in Tuesday, some from posters on Usenet, where McCarthy was an active presence, or from technology writers like Steven Levy, who wrote on Twitter: "Broke news to Siri that John McCarthy... died. She took it well but we humans will miss him."
At one laboratory, a small group of scientists and engineers worked to replace the human mind, while at the other, a similar group worked to augment it. In 1963 the mathematician-turned-computer scientist John McCarthy started the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The researchers believed that it would take only a decade to create a thinking machine. Also that year the computer scientist Douglas Engelbart formed what would become the Augmentation Research Center to pursue a radically different goal -- designing a computing system that would instead "bootstrap" the human intelligence of small groups of scientists and engineers. For the past four decades that basic tension between artificial intelligence and intelligence augmentation -- A.I. versus I.A. -- has been at the heart of progress in computing science as the field has produced a series of ever more powerful technologies that are transforming the world.
In 1955 the computer scientist John McCarthy, who has died aged 84, coined the term artificial intelligence, or AI. His pioneering work in AI – which he defined as "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines" – included organising the first Dartmouth conference on artificial intelligence, and developing the programming language Lisp in 1958. This was the second high-level language, after Fortran, and was based on the radical idea of computing using symbolic expressions rather than numbers. It helped spawn a whole AI industry. McCarthy was also the first to propose a time-sharing model of computing.
Marvin Minsky, who has died aged 88, was a pioneer of artificial intelligence. In 1958 he co-founded the Artificial Intelligence Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Subsequently known as the AI Lab, it became a mecca for artificial intelligence research. His published works included Steps Toward Artificial Intelligence (1960), a manifesto that profoundly shaped AI in its earliest days, and Society of Mind (1985), which postulated that the brain is fundamentally an assembly of interacting, specialised, autonomous agents for tasks such as visual processing and knowledge management. That view of the architecture of the mind remains a cornerstone of AI research.
Computer pioneer and artificial intelligence (AI) theorist Alan Turing would have been 100 years old this Saturday. To mark the anniversary the BBC has commissioned a series of essays. In this, the fourth article, his influence on AI research and the resulting controversy are explored. Alan Turing was clearly a man ahead of his time. In 1950, at the dawn of computing, he was already grappling with the question: "Can machines think?"
This past October saw the death of John McCarthy, one of the pioneers of computer science and a founder of the field of artificial intelligence (AI), a phrase he is credited with inventing. It capped a sad month that also saw the passing of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs and of Dennis Ritchie, the coinventor of Unix and the C programming language. John McCarthy was born in Boston in 1927, but he grew up near Caltech, where he got his B.S. in mathematics. He detoured to Princeton for his Ph.D. but ended up at MIT, where he cofounded its artificial-intelligence lab, the world's first, before going on to Stanford in 1962 to found its artificial-intelligence lab. In between, he found time to invent Lisp, one of the most influential programming languages ever created.
McCarthy created the term "artificial intelligence" and was a towering figure in computer science at Stanford most of his professional life. In his career, he developed the programming language LISP, played computer chess via telegraph with opponents in Russia and invented computer time-sharing. In 1966, John McCarthy hosted a series of four simultaneous computer chess matches carried out via telegraph against rivals in Russia. John McCarthy, a professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford, the man who coined the term "artificial intelligence" and subsequently went on to define the field for more than five decades, died suddenly at his home in Stanford in the early morning Monday, Oct. 24. McCarthy was a giant in the field of computer science and a seminal figure in the field of artificial intelligence.
Just over 65 years ago, Alan Turing famously posed the following question: Can machines think? In Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Turing investigates the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the idea that machine-based life may indeed meet or surpass the boundaries of human intellect. Since Turing's essay and over the course of the last several years, leaders in the technology industry, public intellectuals and mathematicians and philosophers alike have begun to sound the alarm on advances in AI computing, warning of the potential unforeseen end results of placing such super-intelligence "online". Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, shocked many in 2014 when he postulated that the world's greatest existential threat was likely not nuclear war or climate change but rather the unboxing of an ill-considered AI, an act he would refer to as "summoning the demon". In subsequent interviews, Musk has carefully elaborated on his view, still cautioning against a foolish act on the part of those at the forefront of AI development.
This time next week, on Tuesday 11 October at Bletchley Park, sees the launch of an initiative to celebrate women in maths and computing. As a new branch of the existing Suffrage Science scheme, it will encourage women into science, and to reach senior leadership roles. Women make up no more than four in ten undergraduates studying maths (London Mathematical Society), and fewer than two in ten of those studying computer science (WISE report, 2014). In fact, the number of women studying computer science at the undergraduate level has been in decline since the 1980s.