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It is possible that the view of what is impressive enough in computer behavior to be called intelligence changes with each decade as we adjust to what capabilities are made available in products and services.

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  • $\begingroup$ Conventional software as a standalone not so much....Paired with powerful hardware almost everything will be AI to them...As far as I know AI theories existed in the past but not powerful hardware. $\endgroup$ – DuttaA Mar 5 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ I added the "soft-question" tag since I think this is a legit soft question. $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Mar 5 at 18:09
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They would probably have followed the same sequence we do:

  • be amazed at the capabilities,
  • ask how it is done,
  • wonder whether this is really intelligence and (or) point out our narrow the performance was,
  • require more next time to be impressed again.
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My sense is that they would, based on a high-level take of Babbage and Lovelace's view of the potential capability of the "analytic engine". If Babbage's Tic-Tac-Toe machine had been built, I am sure that would have been regarded as machine intelligence. Nimatron (Edward Condon) may have been the first game AI, and the capability seems similar to what Babbage was envisioning. Certainly the bogus "Turk" chess-playing hoax was considered a machine intelligence.

Conventional software could connote a form of automation, and I think any form of automation, particularly where the operations are "under the covers", would have been considered a form of intelligence.


I think the current idea of only regarding "strong statistical AI" (Machine Learning) as AI is inherently flawed because of the concept of utility. Intelligence is a spectrum, being a relative measure of problem solving strength, and artificial merely connotes a thing intentionally or skillfully constructed. The Russell & Norvig definition seems to hew to this viewpoint.

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    $\begingroup$ If I remember correctly there was some pope who designed some machine which could solve maths or do something interesting..Do you know who it was? $\endgroup$ – DuttaA Mar 5 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ @DuttaA Could this be Pope Sylvester II and his "brazen" robotic head that gave boolean output? The mythical predecessor would have been Talos (although Talos' reputed capability was much broader;) $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Mar 5 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ Probably cannot say for sure.. $\endgroup$ – DuttaA Mar 5 at 18:50
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The 19th century was from 1801 to 1900. The period is sometimes called the industrial revolution because lots of mechanical machines were invented for example the steam locomotive, the sewing machine, early cars and cranes. The technology can be made visible for today's people with the Meccano kit which is able to reproduce the technology from that area in a smaller size.

Suppose we are injecting in this context a new sort of machine, namely a computer which runs with software. How would this apparatus be named? The term artificial intelligence or computer was not available in the 19th century, but the people had a technology which goes into that direction. That are machines, which have no dedicated purpose but are constructed for wasting time. A typical example is a mechanical dice realized with Meccano parts, a skat game build with printed cards or a roulette wheel which is driven by an electric motor. This kind of technology goes into the direction of modern computers and artificial intelligence. The term used for this technology in the 19th century was gambling with support of a mechanical apparatus. It is not a coincidence that Ada Lovelace was fascinated by horse races.

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