Nothing works without “Artificial Intelligence” (AI), at least in politics: all six parties represented in the Bundestag emphasize the important role of AI for the future of Germany in their current election programs. While that was still unthinkable in the first reign of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), science looked back on 50 years of AI research.
Fifteen years ago today, the conference “AI @ 50“with the somewhat cumbersome full title” Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence Conference: The Next Fifty Years “. For the anniversary, the view should not only be turned back to 50 years of the Dartmouth Conference, but also forward – to the year 2056.
First Dartmouth Conference 1956
The first Dartmouth Conference began on June 13, 1956 at Dartmouth College and did not end until two and a half months later. The initiator was the LISP inventor and AI pioneer John McCarthy, who estimated the innovation leap required for AI on a human level to be 1.7 Einstein and several billions. In addition to him, four other participants from the original conference, which coined the term artificial intelligence, took part in the celebration. Today they died too, the last survivor was Trenchard More, who left earth in 2019.
In this respect, it is very fortunate that many contributions to this conference have been handed down and saved, including the beautiful one Conference report (PDF file) by James Moor, who appeared in the leading artificial intelligence magazine. Other locations with reports on the “Dartmouth Explosion” (according to Ray Kurzweil, referring to nuclear weapons) are no less interesting, such as the one List of science fiction (PDF file) that Ray Solomonoff consumed as a participant in the “Summer Research Project”.
Among the participants in the AI @ 50 conference were not only proven AI experts who reported from their now highly differentiated research areas, but also a philosopher. Eric Steinhart dealt with the question to what extent an artificial intelligence can reconstruct a personality from various digital artifacts of a person – as Geist or as a digital god who creates his own universe and continuously programs himself.
The digital mind
“A digital ghost is an artificially intelligent program that knows everything about your life. It is an autobiography brought to life. It recreates your beliefs and desires. You can survive as a digital ghost after death,” writes Steinhart. “We’ll be discussing a number of such digital ghosts over the next 50 years. As time and technology advances, there will be more and more perfect copies of the life of their original author.”
With his definition of a lingering AI, Steinhart didn’t think of storage spaces and web cemeteries like that Virtual Memorials, but more to systems like that Lifelog-Projekt the DARPA or the also discontinued CARPE project of DHW. The acronym CARPE stands for “Capturing, Archiving and Retrieval of Personal Experiences”. Little is left of all these projects, even the Forever Network with thousands of life stories has disappeared and has been replaced by a sports portal.
Even the “Personal Digital Biographer”, which AI co-founder Marvin Minsky wanted to construct as a digital shadow of himself, has not yet been realized in all its wealth of data. The news ticker will report whether it will look different in 35 years’ time.