« All Episodes: Gigaom AI Minute – August 29

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John McCarthy and Newtonian physics are topics on today's AI Minute.

Gigaom brings you our unique analysis and commentary on the present and future of AI.


In 1956, a man named, John McCarthy coined the term artificial intelligence. He gathered together a group of scientists at Dartmouth who thought that over the course of the summer, if they worked really hard, they could solve the problem of how do you make a computer intelligent. Of course 60 years later we still haven't cracked it, but one must ask why they were so optimistic. This was with 1950s computers, and they thought they could solve for human intelligence over the course of the summer.

The answer is because they thought, as a guiding principle, that with Newtonian physics and just a few equations they could explain all the activity in the physical universe. There were similar laws around magnetism and electricity that were just a few laws that were able to explain all observed phenomenon. The hope had been that human intelligence would be like that, by some very simple elements that you just had to crack. This doesn't appear to be the case, and therefore we're having to get our artificial intelligence by a much longer route.

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