The 1996 Simon Newcomb Award
Simon Newcomb was a distinguished astronomer and computer who "proved" that heavier- than-air flight was impossible. His proofs are ingenious, cleverly argued, quite convincing to many of his contemporaries, and utterly wrong. The Simon Newcomb Award is given annually for the silliest published argument attacking AI. Our subject may be unique in the virulence and frequency with which it is attacked, both in the popular media and among the cultured intelligentsia. Recent articles have argued that the very idea of AI reflects a cancer in the heart of our culture and have proven (yet again) that it is impossible. While many of these attacks are cited widely, most of them are ridiculous to anyone with an appropriate technical education.
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