Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: March 11, 2021, 7:37 a.m. Humanist 34.270 - pubs: AI criticism - on Taube's Computers and Common Sense (1961)

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 270.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2021-03-10 20:29:45+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: New Article on History of AI Criticism

Dear all —

I would like to invite you to check out my new article in the IEEE
Annals of the History of Computing — happy to send a copy of the PDF if
your institution doesn’t provide access.

   The “General Problem Solver” Does Not Exist: Mortimer Taube and the
   Art of AI Criticism


This article reconfigures the history of artificial intelligence (AI)
and its accompanying tradition of criticism by excavating the work of
Mortimer Taube, a pioneer in information and library sciences, whose
magnum opus, /Computers and Common Sense: The Myth of Thinking
Machines/ (1961), has been mostly forgotten. To convey the essence of
his distinctive critique, the article focuses on Taube's attack on the
general problem solver (GPS), the second major AI program. After
examining his analysis of the social construction of this and other
“thinking machines,” it concludes that, despite technical changes in AI,
much of Taube's criticism remains relevant today. Moreover, his status
as an “information processing” insider who criticized AI on behalf of
the public good challenges the boundaries and focus of most critiques of
AI from the past half-century. In sum, Taube's work offers an
alternative model from which contemporary AI workers and critics can
learn much.



Shunryu Colin Garvey

Affiliate Fellow
Institute for Human-Centered AI
<> (HAI)
Stanford University

Select Publications:

2021 - “Artificial Intelligence & its Discontents.”
<> special
double issue of/Interdisciplinary Science Reviews/

2021 - “Unsavory medicine for technological civilization: Introducing
‘Artificial Intelligence & its Discontents’.”
/Interdisciplinary Science Reviews/

2019 - "Artificial Intelligence and Japan’s Fifth Generation: The
Information Society, Neoliberalism, and Alternative Modernities.”
<> /Pacific Historical Review/

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