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Philosopher Argued Artificial Intelligence Would Never Reach Human Intelligence



(p. A28) Professor Dreyfus became interested in artificial intelligence in the late 1950s, when he began teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He often brushed shoulders with scientists trying to turn computers into reasoning machines.


. . .


Inevitably, he said, artificial intelligence ran up against something called the common-knowledge problem: the vast repository of facts and information that ordinary people possess as though by inheritance, and can draw on to make inferences and navigate their way through the world.

"Current claims and hopes for progress in models for making computers intelligent are like the belief that someone climbing a tree is making progress toward reaching the moon," he wrote in "Mind Over Machine: The Power of Human Intuition and Expertise in the Era of the Computer" (1985), a book he collaborated on with his younger brother Stuart, a professor of industrial engineering at Berkeley.

His criticisms were greeted with intense hostility in the world of artificial intelligence researchers, who remained confident that success lay within reach as computers grew more powerful.

When that did not happen, Professor Dreyfus found himself vindicated, doubly so when research in the field began incorporating his arguments, expanded upon in a second edition of "What Computers Can't Do" in 1979 and "What Computers Still Can't Do" in 1992.


. . .


For his 2006 book "Philosophy: The Latest Answers to the Oldest Questions," Nicholas Fearn broached the topic of artificial intelligence in an interview with Professor Dreyfus, who told him: "I don't think about computers anymore. I figure I won and it's over: They've given up."



For the full obituary, see:

WILLIAM GRIMES. "Hubert L. Dreyfus, Who Put Computing In Its Place, Dies at 87." The New York Times (Wednesday, May 3, 2017): A28.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date MAY 2, 2017, and has the title "Hubert L. Dreyfus, Philosopher of the Limits of Computers, Dies at 87.")


Dreyfus's last book on the limits of artificial intelligence, was:

Dreyfus, Hubert L. What Computers Still Can't Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1992.






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