The Quest for Artificial Intelligence

Written by: Nils J. Nilsson (Professor Emeritus, Stanford University)

A pioneer in the field, Nils J. Nilsson, has generously shared his artificial intelligence textbook on the history of AI with Stanford University students and the world at large. While we might think of AI as something new and from the 21st century, it actually began with Aristotle. Yes, before the invention of electricity, Aristotle dreamed of automation and how to use it instead of servants or slaves. There are also mentions of artificial intelligence in the 18th century but it wasn’t until the 1950’s that we began having the technology to make computers that think on their own. Artificial intelligence is truly a case of science fiction authors of one era predicting the inventions of another.

Obviously this artificial intelligence textbook will be more appealing for computer science students and techno-geeks. But, unlike so many scientists, Nilsson has written his text utilizing language that makes it truly accessible to everyone. The texts that were available in the late 1980s, when I briefly studied artificial intelligence, were primarily those where the authors wanted to dazzle with their language skills rather than educate. Granted, the technology was still fairly new. We now have many examples of the technology – you might even have one cleaning your carpets right now – an iRobot vacuum.

The online version of the text includes plenty of hyperlinks for readers wishing to dig deeper into many of the covered topics. Students are invited to explore, in greater detail than a single text could provide, more details on historic moments, authorities in the field and technological concepts.

Chapter Titles from The Quest for Artificial Intelligence Textbook

Part I – Beginnings

  1. Dreams and Dreamers
  2. Clues

Part II – Early Explorations: 1950s and 1960s

  1. Gatherings
  2. Pattern Recognition
  3. Early Heuristic Programs
  4. Semantic Representations
  5. Natural Language Processing
  6. 1960s’ Infrastructure

Part III – Efflorescence: Mid-1960s to Mid-1970s

  1. Computer Vision
  2. “Hand-Eye” Research
  3. Knowledge Representation and Reasoning
  4. Mobile Robots
  5. Progress in Natural Language Processing
  6. Game Playing
  7. The Dendral Project
  8. Conferences, Books, and Funding

Part IV – Applications and Specializations: 1970s to Early 1980s

  1. Speech Recognition and Understanding Systems
  2. Consulting Systems
  3. Understanding Queries and Signals
  4. Progress in Computer Vision
  5. Boomtimes

Part V – “New Generation” Projects

  1. The Japanese Create a Stir
  2. DARPA’s Strategic Computing Program

Part VI – Entr’acte

  1. Speed Bumps
  2. Controversies and Alternate Paradigms

Part VII – The Growing Armamentarium: From the 1980s Onward

  1. Reasoning and Representation
  2. Others Approaches to Reasoning and Representation
  3. Bayesian Networks
  4. Machine Learning
  5. Natural Languages and Natural Scenes
  6. Intelligent System Architectures

Part VIII – Modern AI: Today and Tomorrow

  1. Extraordinary Achievements
  2. Games
  3. Ubiquitous Artificial Intelligence
  4. Smart Tools
  5. The Quest Continues

Nilsson has since retired but Stanford University maintains an information page on the author (here) and this artificial intelligence textbook. Oddly enough, there are no direct links to the PDF file from the information page. The textbook is located here.


View this Free Online Material at the source:
The Quest for Artificial Intelligence

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