Foundational AI

Artificial Intelligence has had a lot of press recently. It has been touted as the next big advance in developing new drugs to defeat pandemics, or to solve the world’s economic problems and food shortages. On the other hand, it has also been seen as a tool for global disinformation, as the newest tool of war akin to the atom bomb at the end of WWII. And finally, as a possible future super intelligence that might decide to wipe out humanity. There are several current political efforts to legislate curbs to some of its developments.

Where did all of this start? And where will it all end? We begin here with three of the seminal papers in AI.

  1. First is Alan Turing’s “Computing machinery and intelligence” published in 1950, in which he poses the question, “can machines think?” This paper is the vision that starts it all. Turing described a number of different areas of applications where he believed machines might well be able to exceed human capabilities, including, e.g., game playing, solving puzzles, speaking a human language and recognition of geometric patterns among others. Turing also proposed a test for machine intelligence which became known as the “Turing Test”.
  2. Second is Marvin Minsky’s analysis of the future of AI some 12 years later, aptly entitled “Steps Towards Artificial Intelligence”.
  3. And finally, we include an analysis of the progress in developing AI around 2012 from the man who coined the title “Artificial Intelligence”, John McCarthy: What is AI?

These three papers will give the reader a good understanding of what the AI vision was in the beginning, and from there an ability to understand all the published developments and bruhaha, both technical and political, around AI today.