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The Quest for Artificial Intelligence

$38.99 (P)

  • Date Published: October 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521122931
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About the Authors
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is a field within computer science that is attempting to build enhanced intelligence into computer systems. This book traces the history of the subject, from the early dreams of eighteenth-century (and earlier) pioneers to the more successful work of today’s AI engineers. AI is becoming more and more a part of everyone’s life. The technology is already embedded in face-recognizing cameras, speech-recognition software, Internet search engines, and health-care robots, among other applications. The book’s many diagrams and easy-to-understand descriptions of AI programs will help the casual reader gain an understanding of how these and other AI systems actually work. Its thorough (but unobtrusive) end-of-chapter notes containing citations to important source materials will be of great use to AI scholars and researchers. This book promises to be the definitive history of a field that has captivated the imaginations of scientists, philosophers, and writers for centuries.

    • Covers lots of historical landmark AI systems as well as modern AI applications
    • Author has been working in AI for 50 years giving first-hand experience of the whole history of the subject
    • Nilsson is an experienced author, so knows how to explain technical material to non-experts
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "With the investigatory skill of a historian for the earliest work, personal recollections and reflections of early work, and unprecedented access to current researchers; and with the wit of a skilled author and teacher and the insight of a founding father, Nils Nilsson is uniquely qualified to present this lucid, comprehensive, entertaining and balanced history of AI."
    Peter Norvig, Director of Research, Google Inc.

    "Nils reminds us of the grand scope of the AI enterprise and provides an excellent vantage point from which to assess the remarkable progress that has occurred. At the same time, the book provides unique and detailed historical insight into how things really happened. My only complaint is that Nils has, as always, understated his own important role in the story."
    Stuart Russell, University of California, Berkeley

    "Nilsson is one of the world's earliest AI researchers and practitioners, and here he presents a vivid history of Artificial Intelligence - its early breakthroughs, intermediate setbacks, current successes, and forthcoming triumphs."
    Takeo Kanade, U.A. and Helen Whitaker University Professor, Carnegie Mellon University

    "Nils Nilsson has written the definitive intellectual history of Artificial Intelligence research; something that he himself has been a key player in for over forty of its 53 years. In this book he not only explains all of the major ideas and fashions in AI, but he traces how the ideas arose, where they arose and why. This well mannered book explains AI. All of it."
    Rodney Brooks, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

    "A wonderfully comprehensive and entertaining look at how artificial intelligence was invented and developed."
    Alan Kay, President of Viewpoints Research Institute

    "Nils's book is a tour de force that serves as a valuable hiker's guide through the twists and turns of the historical trails of the first several decades of the quest for artificial intelligence."
    Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research and President of the AAAI

    "Nilsson's new book is a fascinating chronology of artificial intelligence, written by one of the doyens of the field. It should appeal to a broad audience with its sweeping coverage of topics ranging from game playing to computer vision and natural language processing."
    Prabhakar Raghavan, Head of Yahoo! Labs

    "A balanced look at what AI has been able to do during its first 50 years of existence. His personal recollections and the rationale behind many decisions, as retold by an insider, make this book a unique contribution, interesting both for the informed and for the general reader. Both kinds of readers can learn a lot from Nilsson’s book about the evolution of this now-mature research field. The book is written in a friendly conversational style, without any unnecessary mathematical formalisms, and is richly illustrated with many diagrams that depict representative AI systems and photographs of the many innovators that led to their development."
    Fernando Berzal,

    "Nilsson crafts a highly readable and personal account of the theory and practitioners that brought the world to present-day AI... the text [is] accessible and the descriptions personal."
    T. Armstrong, Wheaton College for Choice Magazine

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    26th Sep 2020 by Moechan

    Very good and informative book. Much appreciated and hope that others come across it.

    Review was not posted due to profanity


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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521122931
    • length: 580 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 155 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.79kg
    • contains: 227 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Beginnings:
    1. Dreams and dreamers
    2. Clues
    Part II. Early Explorations:
    1950s and 1960s:
    3. Gatherings
    4. Pattern recognition
    5. Early heuristic programs
    6. Semantic representations
    7. Natural language processing
    8. 1960s infrastructure
    Part III. Efflorescence: Mid-1960s to Mid-1970s:
    9. Computer vision
    10. 'Hand-Eye' research
    11. Knowledge representation and reasoning
    12. Mobile robots
    13. Progress in natural language processing
    14. Game playing
    15. The dendral project
    16. Conferences, books, and funding
    Part IV. Applications and Specializations:
    1970s to Early 1980s:
    17. Speech recognition and understanding systems
    18. Consulting systems
    19. Understanding queries and signals
    20. Progress in computer vision
    21. Boomtimes
    Part V. 'New Generation' Projects:
    22. The Japanese create a stir
    23. Darpa's strategic computing program
    Part VI. Entr'acte:
    24. Speed bumps
    25. Controversies and alternative paradigms
    Part VII. The Growing Armamentarium: From the 1980s Onward:
    26. Reasoning and representation
    27. Other approaches to reasoning and representation
    28. Bayesian networks
    29. Machine learning
    30. Natural languages and natural scenes
    31. Intelligent system architectures
    Part VIII. Modern AI: Today and Tomorrow:
    32. Extraordinary achievements
    33. Ubiquitous artificial intelligence
    34. Smart tools
    35. The quest continues.

  • Author

    Nils J. Nilsson, Stanford University
    Nils J. Nilsson, Kumagai Professor of Engineering (Emeritus) in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University, California, received his PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford in 1958. He spent twenty-three years at the Artificial Intelligence Center of SRI International working on statistical and neural-network approaches to pattern recognition, co-inventing the A* heuristic search algorithm and the STRIPS automatic planning system, directing work on the integrated mobile robot, SHAKEY, and collaborating in the development of the PROSPECTOR expert system. He has published five textbooks on artificial intelligence. Professor Nilsson returned to Stanford in 1985 as the Chairman of the Department of Computer Science, a position he held until August 1990. Besides teaching courses on artificial intelligence and on machine learning, he has conducted research on flexible robots that are able to react to dynamic worlds, plan courses of action, and learn from experience. Professor Nilsson served on the editorial boards of the journal Artificial Intelligence and of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research. He was an Area Editor for the Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a past-president and Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a co-founder of Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc. Professor Nilsson is a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. He is a recipient of the IEEE Neural-Network Pioneer award, the IJCAI Research Excellence award, and the AAAI Distinguished Service award.

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