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You Can't Spell AI Without Herbert Simon

The late political scientist was born on this day in 1916


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has really burst on to the scene lately. ChatGPT from OpenAI, Bard (Google’s AI initiative) and many others services are bringing AI to the mainstream. From an economic perspective, many strategists are estimating AI will add to GDP growth and reshape the employment landscape for many industries.


As we think about AI and the future, let’s take a moment to recognize past figures that helped make this technology a reality.


Herbert Simon was one of those pioneers. Read last year’s tribute here.


During his lifetime, Simon created influential work across a number of disciplines. Behavioral Finance (a popular subject here at Jackson Creek) was borne, in part, from his research that countered the prevailing theories of “homo economicus”.


In addition to winning a Nobel Prize in Economics, Simon is also credited with co-creating one of the first artificial intelligence programs. For this, he won the ACM’s Turing Award, considered the “Nobel Prize of Computing.”


Simon predicted, in 1957, that a computerized chess machine would surpass human players by 1967. He was premature in his timing but eventually proved correct. It took another 30 years for IBM’s Deep Blue to beat Garry Kasparov. Some of the IBM engineers that developed Deep Blue were graduates of Carnegie Mellon University. Simon started, and taught at, the computer science department of Carnegie Mellon University.


Simon also predicted, in 1965, that “machines will be capable, within twenty years, of doing any work a man can do.” We might be seeing the beginning stages of this coming true.


Learn more about Herbert Simon:

Short bio from the A.M. Turing Award

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