Fifty Years of AI: From Symbols to Embodiment - and Back

  • Luc Steels
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4850)


There are many stories to tell about the first fifty years of AI. One story is about AI as one of the big forces of innovation in information technology. It is now forgotten that initially computers were just viewed as calculating machines. AI has moved that boundary, by projecting visions on what might be possible, and by building technologies to realise them. Another story is about the applications of AI. Knowledge systems were still a rarity in the late seventies but are now everywhere, delivered through the web. Knowledge systems routinely deal with financial and legal problem solving, diagnosis and maintenance of power plants and transportation networks, symbolic mathematics, scheduling, etc. The innovative aspects of search engines like Google are almost entirely based on the information extraction, data mining, semantic networks and machine learning techniques pioneered in AI. Popular games like SimCity are straightforward applications of multi-agent systems. Sophisticated language processing capacities are now routinely embedded in text processing systems like Microsoft’s Word. Tens of millions of people use AI technology every day, often without knowing it or without wondering how these information systems can do all these things. In this essay I will focus however on another story: AI as a contributor to the scientific study of mind.


history of AI heuristic search knowledge systems behavior-based robotics semiotic dynamics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luc Steels
    • 1
  1. 1.Sony Computer Science Laboratory - Paris, VUB AI Lab, Vrije Universiteit Brussel 

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