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the field, both intellectually and in the size of the research community, has depended largely on public investments. Public monies have been invested in a range of AI programs, from fundamental, long-term research into cognition to shorter-term efforts to develop operational systems. Most of the federal support has come from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA, known during certain periods as ARPA) and other units of the Department of Defense (DOD). Other funding agencies have included the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which have pursued AI applications of particular relevance to their missions—health care, scientific research, and space exploration.
This chapter highlights key trends in the development of the field of AI and the important role of federal investments. The sections of this chapter, presented in roughly chronological order, cover the launching of the AI field, the government's initial participation, the pivotal role played by DARPA, the success of speech recognition research, the shift from basic to applied research, and AI in the 1990s. The final section summarizes the lessons to be learned from history. This case study is based largely on published accounts, the scientific and technical literature, reports by the major AI research centers, and interviews conducted with several leaders of AI research centers. (Little information was drawn from the records of the participants in the field, funding agencies, editors and publishers, and other primary sources most valued by professional historian.)1
The Private Sector Launches the Field
The origins of AI research are intimately linked with two landmark papers on chess playing by machine.2 They were written in 1950 by Claude E. Shannon, a mathematician at Bell Laboratories who is widely acknowledged as a principal creator of information theory. In the late 1930s, while still a graduate student, he developed a method for symbolic analysis of switching systems and networks (Shannon, 1938), which provided scientists and engineers with much-improved analytical and conceptual tools. After working at Bell Labs for half a decade, Shannon published a paper on information theory (Shannon, 1948). Shortly thereafter, he published two articles outlining the construction or programming of a computer for playing chess (Shannon, 1950a,b).
Shannon's work inspired a young mathematician, John McCarthy, who, while a research instructor in mathematics at Princeton University, joined Shannon in 1952 in organizing a conference on automata studies, largely to promote symbolic modeling and work on the theory of machine intelligence.3 A year later, Shannon arranged for McCarthy and another