History in a nutshell
of particular interest as far as the birth of AI is concerned come in the mid
20th century. They were due to Alan Turing (1912-1954), who
made two fundamental contributions. In 1936 he proposed a model for a universal automatic calculator (known as Turing's machine): it is the prototype of all electronic computers developed in the mid
1940s. In 1950 Turing proposed the
a paradigm to establish if a machine is intelligent or not.
In a well-known article of his, Computing Machinery and Intelligence (1950), he suggests placing an observer in front of
two teleprinters. One of the two teleprinters is run by a man, the other by a woman. The observer, who does not know which is
commanded by the man and which by the woman,
tries to work it out by asking them any kind of question. One of the two interlocutors must
tell the truth, the other should
pretend to be of the opposite sex. At a certain point the interlocutor who is lying is
replaced with a calculator programmed
to pretend to be a human being. When the number of mistakes made in trying to identify the computer is the same as those made
in trying to identify the lying interlocutor, then the computer can be called intelligent.
Fig. 1: Alan Turing
The Webweavers: Last modified Wed, 09 Mar 2005 11:06:00 GMT
- 1943: First AI work: Warren
McCulloch and Walter Pitt design a
- 1956: John McCarthy gathers the
main scholars of the time in Dartmouth (among
them Marvin Minsky, Allen Newell, Claude Shannon and Herbert Simon) for a seminary, where he proposes the name
- 1958: McCarthy produces the
a high level programming language dedicated especially to AI.
- 1970-1980: Important developments in
research on neural networks. At the same time the first difficulties also
arise; one serious problem is the combinatory burst, the sudden increase of calculation time when the number of variables
increases in a problem.
are designed with applications
for medical diagnostics, and lead to the first attempts to understand natural language.
Recent results on the resolution method (by J.A. Robinson) give birth to
AI comes out of the science laboratories and finds significant practical applications. At the same time,
as a consequence, industrial companies especially in America and Japan start to market programs focusing
on expert systems, on configuration recognition and so on, building microcircuits and whole computers
specialised in AI applications.