[AccessD] Computer programming pioneer Joseph Weizenbaum dead at 85, advanced artificial intelligence

Tina Norris Fields tinanfields at torchlake.com
Sat Mar 29 12:50:23 CDT 2008

That's a real loss to the world.  Thanks for letting us know.

Rocky Smolin at Beach Access Software wrote:
> Joseph Weizenbaum invented ELIZA - an artificial intelligence program I used
> back in the Radio Shack Model II days.  It was the model of simplicity, yet,
> it was so effective that when researchers were testing it the test subjects
> would ask the researchers to leave the room while they were using it as the
> information they were sharing was so personal.  
> I read another study which said that the therapeutic results of ELIZA were
> reported by users to rival that of live therapists.
> Rocky
> http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/tech/20080313-1336-obit-weizenbaum.html
> BERLIN - Joseph Weizenbaum, a computer programmer who helped advance
> artificial intelligence only to become a critic of the technology later in
> his life, has died. He was 85. 
> Weizenbaum died March 5 of complications from stomach cancer at a daughter's
> home in Groeben, just outside the German capital, Miriam Weizenbaum, one of
> his four daughters, said Thursday. 
> Weizenbaum was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in
> the mid-1960s when he developed ELIZA - named for Eliza Doolittle, the
> heroine of "My Fair Lady" - which became his best-known contribution to
> computer programming. 
> The program allowed a person to "converse" with a computer, using what the
> person said to create the computer's reply. 
> "Weizenbaum was shocked to discover that many users were taking his program
> seriously and were opening their hearts to it. The experience prompted him
> to think philosophically about the implications of artificial intelligence,
> and, later, to become a critic of it," the MIT newsletter Tech Talk said
> Wednesday. 
> In his 1976 book "Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to
> Calculation," Weizenbaum suggested it could be both dangerous and immoral to
> assume computers could eventually take over any human role. 
> "No other organism, and certainly no computer, can be made to confront
> genuine human problems in human terms," he wrote. 
> Weizenbaum was born Jan. 8, 1923, in Berlin and fled to the United States in
> 1936 with his Jewish family to escape Nazi persecution, according to a short
> 2003 biography published by Magdeburg's Leibniz-Institut fuer Neurobiologie.
> He began studying math at what was then Wayne University in Detroit in 1941,
> but broke off a year later to join the U.S. Army Air Corps where he served
> as a meteorologist. 
> He joined a General Electric Co. team in 1955 that designed and built the
> first computer system dedicated to banking operations. 
> Besides his work at MIT, he held academic appointments at Harvard, Stanford
> and the University of Bremen, among others. He was the Scientific Council
> chairman of Berlin's Institute of Electronic Business at the time of his
> death. 
> Weizenbaum was buried at a small family service in the Jewish Cemetery in
> Berlin. A public memorial is scheduled for March 18 in Berlin. 
> Besides his four daughters, Weizenbaum is survived by a son from a previous
> marriage and five grandchildren. 

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