Inquiry – Second Round of Research – Victor Tenea

What is the History of Modern Artificial Intelligence?

While there are many recorded instances of very basic AI well before modern times, the true field of Artificial Intelligence wasn’t founded until 1956, at a conference hosted by John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky, at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire. [3] In that conference, Allen Newell, Cliff Shaw, and Herbert Simon introduced the “Logic Theorist”, a program that attempted to mimic and replicate the human species’ ability to solve problems. While this conference felt like a disappointment to John McCarthy, it is still seen as one of the most important parts of the history of AI. [4]

AI truly flourished during the next eighteen years though, with computers becoming more affordable, more powerful, and more popular. More demonstrations of AI started to arise, such as Joseph Weizenbaum’s “ELIZA”, and Newell and Simon’s “General Problem Solver”. Governments were interested and funding skyrocketed. [4]

But then the “AI winter” of 1974-1980 hit, a period of six years where the interest and funding of AI took a hit. This period badly damaged the image of the AI industry at the time and hurt technology companies quite a bit. [3]

Yet in 1980, the field of AI got revitalized with a new surge of funding, partly from the British government, making sure that they didn’t fall behind the Japanese. [3] Expert systems were introduced, and deep learning techniques became popularized, allowing AI to now mimic human experts and to learn. [4]

While funding dropped off yet again in the late eighties and continued until the mid nineties, AI kept developing, even with its decreased funding and public interest, with most of AI’s landmark goals being completed during the ten-year period between 1990 and 2000. In 1997, the “Deep Blue” program, developed by the technology company IBM, defeated the reigning world chess champion and grand master Gary Kasparov. This was the first time AI had ever defeated a reigning world champion at chess and it became one of the most famous and most publicized AI moments of all time [4], with another IBM program named “Watson” winning the game show Jeopardy in 2011. [5] 1997 was also the year that one of the first modern speech recognition software’s was implemented by Microsoft, and “Kismet”, a robot created by Cynthia Breazeal that could recognize and display emotions, was completed. [4]

While not many huge steps in the evolution of AI have been made since 2011, other than some like the automated drive mode in “Tesla” cars, AI is still developing and still advancing, and it is one of the most relevant topics of the century. With the shrinking pool of jobs and the increasing amount of people, some people are starting to think if we ever needed AI in the first place. What do you think?




[1] Heath, Nick. “What Is AI? Everything You Need to Know about Artificial Intelligence.” ZDNet, ZDNet, 1 July 2019,[2] “What Is AI? What Does Artificial Intelligence Do? – CBBC Newsround.” BBC News, BBC,


[2] “What Is AI? What Does Artificial Intelligence Do? – CBBC Newsround.” BBC News, BBC,


[3] “A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence.” LiveScience, Purch, <a href=””>


[4] Scott, John, et al. “The History of Artificial Intelligence.” Science in the News, Harvard University, 21 Apr. 2019, <a href=””>


[5] Gabbatt, Adam. “IBM Computer Watson Wins Jeopardy Clash.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 17 Feb. 2011,

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