Dear "Computer Professionals", this is for YOU

Can you recognize THIS call?

Dear "Computer Professionals", this is for YOU /img/history-of-ai.jpg

That time has come for YOU, computer professionals

YOU now have the power radically to turn the state of the world in directions conducive to life. In this context, the domain called Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes especially to mind.

Goals like making a thinking being out of the computer, giving the computer the ability to understand spoken language, making it possible for the computer to see, offer nearly irresistible temptations to YOU, computer professionals.

But the actual problems on which YOU work are disguised and transformed until their representations are mere fables: harmless, innocent, lovely fairy tales.

Either computer science or its subdiscipline Artificial Intelligence has an enormous affection for euphemism.

YOU speak so readily of computer systems that understand, that see, decide, make judgments, and so on, without recognizing the superficiality and immeasurable naivete with respect to these concepts.

Maybe it’s time, instead, to speak the simplest truths in the simplest possible words, as Orwell said.

Says who???

Good question! What you just read is an excerpt, with really minimal editing, of a much longer talk given by J. Weizenbaum, professor of computer science at MIT… THIRTY-SIX years ago.

Right now, the full text of that talk, titled “Not without us” is fully readable online without restrictions only here. The image, instead, is a screenshot taken from “A Very Short History Of Artificial Intelligence” (2016)