Book Title: This Could Be Important (Mobile)

Subtitle: My Life and Times with the Artificial Intelligentsia

Author: Pamela McCorduck

Book Description: Pamela McCorduck wrote the first modern history of artificial intelligence, Machines Who Think, and spent much time pulling on the sleeves of public intellectuals, trying in futility to suggest that artificial intelligence could be important. Memoir, social history, group biography of the founding fathers of AI, This Could Be Important follows the personal story of one AI spectator, from her early enthusiasms to her mature, more nuanced observations of the field.

License:
Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivatives

Contents

Book Information

Book Description

In 1979 Pamela McCorduck published the first modern history of artificial intelligence, Machines Who Think. But as This Could Be Important shows, she’d been intrigued by AI for nearly twenty years before that. She’d first met AI when she was an undergraduate English major at Berkeley, and became steeped in the culture at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon Universities. While she couldn’t judge whether AI was sound science, or would ever move from the fringes to scientific respectability, she was confident that the people who pursued AI were some of the most intelligent human beings she’d ever had the joy to meet. Friendships with the AI founding fathers, first professional, and later personal, laid the foundation of her lifelong fascination with AI.

When she and her computer scientist husband moved to New York City, she joined various literary circles, but faced impossible battles to convince public intellectuals in the 1980s, the 1990s, and beyond, that AI could be important. Drawn from the journals she kept, she describes those battles candidly—losing a university tenure fight over Machines Who Think (which was later celebrated as influencing a generation of young researchers), being flayed alive in the New York Times and the New York Review of Books for her heresies. She writes how she was aghast and then contemptuous of one celebrity intellectual’s ignorance, dismayed by others for their unwillingness to try even to understand.

Yet AI is here, and so is she. If she once thought that pursuing more intelligence was as unequivocally desirable as pursuing more virtue, she awakened to what, as a student of the humanities, she should always have known—that any human endeavor brings in its train the sublime and the ridiculous, opportunities for great good, and risks of great evil. In this book she also ponders the present, where two global super-powers, the United States and China, have at their disposal a power never before seen in human history.  Neither one will get it right the first time. But with due caution, AI can be done right.

Author

Pamela McCorduck

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

This Could Be Important (Mobile) by Carnegie Mellon University: ETC Press: Signature is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Subject

Autobiography: science, technology and medicine

Metadata

Title
This Could Be Important (Mobile)
Author
Pamela McCorduck
License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

This Could Be Important (Mobile) by Carnegie Mellon University: ETC Press: Signature is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Copyright © by ETC Press and Pamela McCorduck 2019 http://press.etc.cmu.edu/

ISBN: 978-0-359-90133-3 (Print)
ISBN: 978-0-359-90134-0 (Hard Cover)
ISBN: 978-0-359-90138-8 (Digital)

TEXT: The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NonDerivative 4.0 International License unless otherwise noted below.

IMAGES: All images appearing in this work are property of the respective copyright owners, and are not released into the Creative Commons. The respective owners reserve all rights.

Cover design by Heidi Bartlett
Copyedited by Rebecca Huehls

Text Permissions for This Could Be Important. Pamela McCorduck

Lines from “Tolstoy and The Spider” © 2011 Jane Hirshfield, from Come, Thief. NewYork: Knopf, 2011.  Used by permission of the author.

“The Niagara River,” © Kay Ryan, from The Niagara River. New York: Grove Press, 2005. Used with permission of the author.

Lines from “A Pied in Arkansas” © J. Chester Johnson, from St. John’s Chapel & Selected Shorter Poems,second edition. Haworth, New Jersey: St. Johann Press, 2010. Used with permission of the author.

Image Permissions for This Could Be Important.

Watson: IBM’s Watson beats past Jeopardy! winners Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings in 2011. VincentLTE [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WatsonPour203.png

Herb Simon: Herb Simon plays chess with CMU faculty member Bill Chase in 1973. Neil Charness, a PhD student who worked with Simon on his chess experiments, films. Courtesy of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives.

Herb Simon: Herb Simon lectures in Hamburg Germany in June 1977. Courtesy of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives.

Allen Newell: Allen Newell sitting at a prototype computer with a CRT monitor, designed to provide visual feedback to the user, 1975. Courtesy of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives.

Allen Newell: Allen Newell teaches a seminar course in 1977. Courtesy of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives.

John McCarthy: Copyright (c) The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.  Courtesy of Stanford University Archives and Special Collections.

Marvin Minsky: Marvin Minsky and the “Minsky Arm” at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab. Ivan Massar, photographer; courtesy MIT Museum.

Edward Feigenbaum: Edward Feigenbaum (center), Director of the Stanford University Computation Center. 1966. Copyright (c) The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.  Courtesy of Stanford University Archives and Special Collections.

Raj Reddy: Raj Reddy meets with students at Carnegie Mellon’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration (GSIA) in 1989. Courtesy of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives.

Joseph Weizenbaum: Joel Moses (L) and Joseph Weizenbaum (R). Ivan Massar, photographer; courtesy MIT Museum.

Maja Mataric: Courtesy of Maja Mataric.

Ashley Montagu: Pamela McCorduck and Ashley Montagu at the opening of Santa Clara University’s Technology Institute in January 1986. Image provided by Archives & Special Collections, University Library, Santa Clara University.

Lofti Zadeh: By Eastdept – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48614538

Computer Bowl: Pamela McCorduck’s 1991 East Coast MVP trading card from the Computer Museum of Boston’s yearly Computer Bowl competition. Copyright (c) The Computer History Museum. Used by permission.

Steve Jobs: Apple CEO Steven P. Jobs, left and President John Sculley present the new Macintosh Desktop Computer in January 1984 at a shareholder meeting in Cupertino, California, USA. AP Photo.

Harold Cohen: Harold Cohen in his studio. Photographer: Becky Cohen

Patrick Winston: Patrick Winston at his desk. Photo courtesy of Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL.

Elizabeth Honig: Elizabeth Honig addresses a conference in 2014 about her work. Photo: Jess Bailey.

Daniel Dennett: Photo Credit Irina Rozovsky.

Jeanette Wing: Jeanette Wing, 2010. Courtesy of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science.

Mary Shaw: Mary Shaw, 1976. Courtesy of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives.

Kai-Fu Lee: Portrait, Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science.

Primary Subject
Autobiography: science, technology and medicine
Additional Subject(s)
Autobiography: science, technology and medicine
Publisher
Carnegie Mellon University: ETC Press: Signature
Publication Date
October 1, 2019
Ebook ISBN
978-0-359-90138-8
Print ISBN
978-0-359-90133-3