Artificial Intelligence: Philosophy of Mind, Ethics, and the Genie in the Bottle

Historical Foundations of A.I.

Long before the advent of modern computers, philosophers and writers have considered the possibility of an artificial being. The Renaissance mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes considered the development of a constructed artificial being that could speak. Interestingly, Descartes believed it would be possible to create a machine that could create sounds, even creating speech itself. However, the philosopher believed it would be impossible for this machine to ever converse with another person because it could never "modify its words and phrases" necessary for a conversation. Descartes, famous for "I think, therefore, I am," believed that language was reflective of the inner thought needed to be "intelligent." Descartes would probably change his mind after seeing IBM's "Watson" in action. Watson has been programmed with Natural Language Processing and can, given the right context like the show "Jeopardy!" converse with human beings, if only in a limited fashion.
In the 19th Century, author Mary Shelley was very interested in the rise of modern science, especially the recent discovery of electricity and the reanimation effect it seemed to have on corpses. She envisioned a scientist who reanimated a constructed corpse that was intelligent. Of course, the scientist is named Dr. Victor Frankenstein, but the "monster" has no name--it is simply referred to as a "creature," "monster," "demon," and the like.

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