SOME DEFINITIONS OF
"ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE"

compiled by

William J. Rapaport

Department of Computer Science and Engineering,
Department of Philosophy,
and Center for Cognitive Science
State University of New York at Buffalo,
Buffalo, NY 14260-2000

Last Update: 19 September 2012

Note: NEW or UPDATED material is highlighted


  1. The goal of work in artificial intelligence is to build machines that perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence. (Nilsson, Nils J. (1971), Problem-Solving Methods in Artificial Intelligence (New York: McGraw-Hill): vii.)

  2. Research scientists in Artificial Intelligence try to get machines to exhibit behavior that we call intelligent behavior when we observe it in human beings. (Slagle, James R. (1971), Artificial Intelligence: The Heuristic Programming Approach (New York: McGraw-Hill): 1.)

  3. B. Raphael ... has suggested that AI is a collective name for problems which we do not yet know how to solve properly by computer. (Michie, Donald, "Formation and Execution of Plans by Machine," in N. V. Findler & B. Meltzer (eds.) (1971), Artificial Intelligence and Heuristic Programming (New York: American Elsevier): 101-124; quotation on p. 101.)

    [Note that it follows that once we do know how to solve them, they are no longer AI!]

  4. What is or should be [AI researchers'] main scientific activity--studying the structure of information and the structure of problem solving processes independently of applications and independently of its realization in animals or humans. (McCarthy, John (1974), Review of "Artificial Intelligence: A General Survey," Artificial Intelligence 5: 317-322; quotation on p. 317.)

  5. By "artificial intelligence" I therefore mean the use of computer programs and programming techniques to cast light on the principles of intelligence in general and human thought in particular. (Boden, Margaret (1977), Artificial Intelligence and Natural Man (New York: Basic Books): 5.)

  6. Some links have been UPDATED:
    A valuable discussion of the nature of AI may be found in the "debate" between Schank, Roger C. (1983), "The Current State of AI: One Man's Opinion", AI Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Winter-Spring): 3-8, and Bundy, Alan (1983), "The Nature of AI: A Reply to Schank", AI Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Winter): 29-31.

  7. See also: Nilsson, Nils J. (1983), "Artificial Intelligence Prepares for 2001", AI Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Winter): 7-14.

  8. See also: Parnas, David Lorge (1985), "Software Aspects of Strategic Defense Systems," American Scientist 73: 432-440, esp. pp. 437-438: "Artificial Intelligence and the Strategic Defense Initiative".

  9. From: wm@tekchips.UUCP (Wm Leler)
    Newsgroups: net.ai
    Subject: Re: definition of AI
    Date: 3 Dec 85 23:35:21 GMT
    Organization: Tektronix, Beaverton OR
    
    Here's another "off-the-cuff" definition of AI, but one which I
    think captures the essence of what separates AI CS from regular CS.
    
    Artificial Intelligence is the branch of Computer Science that
    attempts to solve problems for which there is no known
    efficient solution, but which we know are efficiently solvable,
    (typically) because some intelligence can solve the problem
    (often in "real time").
    
    A side benefit of AI is that it helps us learn how intelligences
    solve these problems, and thus how natural intelligence works.
    
    Example: vision.  We do not have any algorithms for recognizing,
    say, animal faces in images, but we know it must be possible,
    because humans (even infants) can effectively recognize faces.
    Solving this problem would help us understand how human vision
    works.
    

  10. John McCarthy's (1988) analysis of what AI is.

  11. A newsgroup discussion on Aaron Sloman's (1989) analysis of what AI is.

  12. Article 13305 of comp.ai:
    From: Ralf.Brown@B.GP.CS.CMU.EDU
    Newsgroups: comp.ai
    Subject: Re: Cyc
    Date: 4 Aug 92 13:31:03 GMT
    Organization: Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science
    
    In article <1992Aug3.221415.7730@linus.mitre.org>, crawford@church.mitre.org (Randy Crawford) wrote:
    }I like the quote I heard recently (questioningly attributed to McCarthy), 
    }"AI is everything we can't do with today's computers."
    
    Another one I like is
    	"AI is making computers act like those in movies."
    
    -- 
    Internet: RALF+@CS.CMU.EDU   |The University would disclaim this if it knew...
    FIDO: Ralf Brown 1:129/26.1  |"Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from
    BIT: RALF%CS.CMU.EDU@CARNEGIE| getting into situations where you need it."
    AT&Tnet: (412)268-3053 school|		-- Doug Larson
    

  13. A discussion among Stuart C. Shapiro, Sargur N. Srihari, and Bharat Jayraman on what AI is.

  14. Article: 22490 of comp.ai
    From: rkeene@pixelplow.Central.Sun.COM (Dick Keene [Sun Market Development Software Engineer])
    Newsgroups: comp.ai
    Subject: Re: Definition of AI (was Re: Gell-Mann's "FLA
    Date: 9 Jun 1994 16:35:49 GMT
    Organization: Sun Microsystems, Inc.
    
    	Warning: Cynical Definition...
    
    	My definition of AI is any algorithm that is new in computer
    	science.  Once the algorithm becomes accepted then it's
    	not AI, it's just a boring algorithm.
    
    	At one time windows, mouse, menus, scroolbars etc. were considered
    	an AI technique for makeing computers understand natural language.
    	(The menus are a list of valid words the system understands)
    
    	This is also why I study "Cognition", not AI.
    
    	R. Keene
    

  15. Artificial intelligence is concerned with the attempt to develop complex computer programs that will be capable of performing difficult cognitive tasks. (Eysenck, Michael W. (1990), "Artificial Intelligence," in M.W. Eysenck (ed.), The Blackwell Dictionary of Cognitive Psychology (Oxford: Basil Blackwell): 22.)


Also see:




Copyright © 2001–2012 by William J. Rapaport (rapaport@buffalo.edu)
file: definitions.of.ai-20120919.html