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AI promised humanlike machines–in 1958

AI promised humanlike machines–in 1958

Frank Rosenblatt, 1958, with the Mark I Perceptron computer, the first artificial neuronal network computer. National Museum of the U.S. Navy/Flickr

This article appeared originally on The Conversation

A roomsize computer equipped with a new type of circuitry, the Perceptron, was introduced to the world in 1958 in a brief news story buried deep in The New York Times. The story cited the U.S. Navy as saying that the Perceptron would lead to machines that “will be able to walk, talk, see, write, reproduce itself and be conscious of its existence.”

The same claims are still being made today about artificial intelligence, six decades after the invention of AI. So, what’s changed in the intervening years? In some ways not much.

Artificial intelligence has seen a boom-and bust cycle ever since it was founded. Now, as the field is in yet another boom, many proponents of the technology seem to have forgotten the failures of the past – and the reasons for them. While optimism drives progress, it’s worth paying attention to the history.

The Perceptron, invented by Frank Rosenblatt, arguably laid the foundations for AI. The electronic analog was a machine that learned.

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