, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 382-383
Date: 27 Jul 2004

Pamela McCorduck and A.K. Peters (eds): Machines who think: 25th anniversary update

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It is a brave scientific or technical author who returns to a book 25 years later, and reprints it without changes, but with an Afterword to cover the intervening years. Those of us who have been publishing books for over 20 years should see if we can rise to the challenge. It would be particularly difficult in the field of artificial intelligence, where there have been such hopes, such disappointments and such enduring controversies.

Pamela McCorduck was perhaps best known for her book with Ed Feigenbaum, “The fifth generation” (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, USA, 1983), which sought to raise American awareness of the challenge posed by Japan to American technological supremacy. In a manner reminiscent of accounts of the Russian Sputnik, the foreign threat was used to galvanise American funding. Japanese funded programmes were then matched with programmes in Europe (such as ESPRIT and Alvey) and in the USA (such as the Strategic Computing Initiative and MCC).

By contrast, “Machines who th ...