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Themesicon: navigation pathAesthetics of the Digitalicon: navigation pathArt/Science

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The constitution of two new disciplines: cybernetics and artificial intelligence

That «society can only be understood through a study of the messages and the communication facilities which belong to it; and that in the future development of these messages and communication facilities, messages between man and machines, between machines and man, and between machine and machine, are destined to play an ever increasing part,» [11] was the key idea of the American mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894–1964), which he elaborated in his book «The Human Use of Human Beings. Cybernetics and Society,» published in 1950 after a first technical study «Cybernetic, or Control and Communication in the Animal and in the Machine» of 1948. In 1950 likewise, the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912–1954) raised the question of the feasibility of logical thought by machines. In his essay «Computing Machinery and Intelligence,» published in volume 59 of the philosophical journal «Mind,» Turing proceeds from the basic question with which his text begins: «Can machines think?»


Until the mid-twentieth century no more than a few researchers working in isolation were concerned with subjects such as communication between dissimilar systems (for instance, biological and technical systems), or with the feasibility of technically designing thought machines. In addition to Wiener and Turing their ranks included Charles Babbage, Claude Shannon, Warren Weaver and Hermann Schmidt. However, from the 1950s on these subjects rapidly became two fields of basic research: cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence. [12] The two aforementioned texts triggered a flood of publications containing speculation and analysis on these subjects. In the first three years after 1950 alone, more than a thousand essays published dealt with intelligence and with communication with and between machines. Yet, when Turing published his essay there existed no more than four digital computers worldwide (Mark I and EDSAC in England, ENIAC and BINAC in the USA). [13] Although Turing’s theorem—everything the human mind can do in the form of an algorithm can also be carried out by a Universal Turing Machine—was based on models so far investigated only as a hypothetical experiment, several

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