The roots of artificial intelligence can be traced back to ancient Greece with myths like that of Pygmalion, which incorporated the idea of an intelligent robot. These early thoughts soon developed into stories like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1818, which was the story of a monster created by man and brought to life. These stories make for interesting fireside tales and bedtime reading, but where did artificial intelligence truly get its start? Most scientists and historians would give this credit to “the father of artificial intelligence”1, John McCarthy. Without McCarthy, the term “artificial intelligence” would not have been coined; and many discoveries in this growing field would not have been made or pursued without his preliminary research into this previously uncharted territory of computer science. This early research in artificial intelligence has led to many of the most important technological advances of all time. By looking at John McCarthy’s life and a few of these applications of artificial intelligence, it is easy to see how much of an impact the field of artificial intelligence has had on our world.
John McCarthy was born in 1927 in Boston, Massachusetts. His mother, a journalist for the Federated Press wire service, and his father, a fisherman, carpenter, and a union organizer, were both Communist party activists. “McCarthy has ascribed his early interest in science to his family’s political views, pointing to their general belief that technology was good for humanity”2. Due to his family’s controversial political views, John was kept on the move for most of his childhood, first to New York and then on to Los Angeles. As a junior in...
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...ries that will help society just as much, if not more, than a true artificial intelligence.
1Morales, Edu. Online: http://web.mit.edu/STS001/www/Team7/home.html
3Weiss, Sonia. “John McCarthy”. Online: http://www.digitalcentury.com/encyclo/update/mccarthy.html
7Christiansen, Brian. “History of Speech Recognition”. Online: http://www.stanford.edu/~jmaurer/history.htm
8Howard-Spink, Sam. Online: http://www.research.ibm.com/thinkresearch/pages/2002/20020918_speech.shtml
10 “Remote Control in Deep Space.” Science News Weekly. 29 May 1999.
11Artificial Intelligence. Exploration Systems Autonomy Section, Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Online: http://www-aig.jpl.nasa.gov/
12Roush, Wade. “Immbots Take Control.” Technology Review. December 2002-January 2003.
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