Standards in Artificial Intelligence

Nick Maclaren nmm1 at
Thu Nov 2 04:35:12 EST 2000

In article <KETIL-vk11ywukc4n.fsf at>,
Ketil Z Malde  <ketil at> wrote:
>"Glover, Roger" <rglover at> writes:
>> Instead we funded AI research.  Maybe the lunar exploration cut-off is
>> not so surprising after all.
>20/20 hindsight?  To me, an intelligent machine is much more
>interesting than lumps of rock floating in space.  That the Apollo
>program succeeded, and AI did not, is a different matter.

One could debate that, but it is off-group.  However, you are
confusing "AI" with intelligent machines.  I don't know whether
the term "AI" was coined by some clueless (if eminent) academic,
hijacked by another of the same class, invented by the press, or
what.  But it is and always has been nonsense.

It was originally a term for genuine research into the limits of
what could be done with computers, often including natural language
processing.  This was and is all good, sound research.  It hasn't
got very far, but we now have a deeper understanding of the
problems :-)  That class of "AI" researcher usually loathed
being associated with the term "AI".

It was then hijacked by some people to use as a sexy name for
some empirical search and optimisation techniques (so-called
neural nets and all that).  They predated the term "AI" by many
years, at least as it was used applied to them.  Use of the term
"AI" for this is simply nonsense.

And then there is "Mentifex", who is an independent thinker
among independent thinkers :-)  I quite like his postings,
though I should prefer not to have repeats ....

Frankly, I think that the term "AI" should be left to Mentifex.

Nick Maclaren,
University of Cambridge Computing Service,
New Museums Site, Pembroke Street, Cambridge CB2 3QG, England.
Email:  nmm1 at
Tel.:  +44 1223 334761    Fax:  +44 1223 334679

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