Man Who Coined 'Artificial Intelligence' Dead at 84

John McCarthy a computer visionary
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2011 8:39 AM CDT
John McCarthy, Who Coined Term 'Artificial Intelligence', Dead at 84
In this March 7, 1974 photo provided by the Stanford news Service, John McCarthy, professor of computer science, works at the artificial intelligence lab in Stanford, Calif.   (AP Photo/Stanford News Service, Chuck Painter)

(Newser) – John McCarthy, the computer scientist who coined the term "artificial intelligence" in 1955, died Monday, reports the New York Times. He was 84. McCarthy was teaching mathematics at Dartmouth when he organized the first Artificial Intelligence conference in 1956. Later he founded AI labs at MIT and Stanford, and created the computer language Lisp (for List Processing Language) that still underlies much AI programming. McCarthy predicted that creating an AI machine would require "1.8 Einsteins and one-tenth the resources of the Manhattan Project."

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Called "prophetic" by the Times, McCarthy spoke of what is now e-commerce in the 1970s, invented the computer memory clearing technique called "garbage collection," and developed "time sharing" systems for mainframe computers. McCarthy also held several less successful beliefs over the years—in the 1970s he believed that personal computers were mostly a waste of time, and more recently was largely a climate-change skeptic. (Read more John McCarthy stories.)

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