What Dijkstra thought of AI

Q. Speaking of programming bottlenecks—what will the impact of the research in artificial intelligence be?

A. Can you research something that is not science? I feel that the effort to use machines to try to mimic human reasoning is both foolish and dangerous. It is foolish because if you look at human reasoning as is, it is pretty lousy; even the most trained mathematicians are amateur thinkers. Instead of trying to imitate what we are good at, I think it is much more fascinating to investigate what we are poor at. It is foolish to use machines to imitate human beings, while machines are very good at being machines, and that is precisely something that human beings are very poor at. Any successful AI project by its very nature would castrate the machine.

From an Interview with Prof. Dr. Edsger W. Dijkstra, Austin, 04–03–1985

I strongly recommend reading the work of Dijkstra, as it provides a good grounding for computer science past and present.

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