Intro to Philosophy of AI

It is important to recognize that the ideas which have led to the way AI looks today were not born with Newell and Simon or Frank Rosenblatt. They were not even born with Alan Turing. They are rooted deeply in Western philosophy, starting with the Enlightenment and working up to cognitive philosophy in the 1960's. Although this project is not the place for a detailed discussion of the philosophical history in which AI is rooted, this section will provide something of a very brief crash course in the two philosophical movements which led most immediately to both GOFAI and connectionism:

Positivism and


Both of these movements had their start in the early twentieth century and, although they were no longer the newest philosophies by the birth of AI, they were certainly the most mainstream. The question of the causal connection between computers (or any other scientific innovation) and philosophy is too big to be addressed, but it is an interesting one to keep in mind when considering the legacy of ideas we have been left to address the question of computer intelligence. Again, neither philosophical exposition here is going to be any better than "very shallow," but it will hopefully provide a basis for understanding where AI comes from. In addition, we will take a look at

A Recent, More General Critique of AI

presented by Terry Winograd that follows on the heels of the poststructuralist movement in philosophy and calls into question most of the assumptions AI researchers make in searching for computer intelligence.