5 Pioneers in the Field of Artificial Intelligence

Over the years, there have been a number of notable contributors – pioneers in the field of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the science and pursuit of the machine-possession and use of real intelligence, similar in many ways to our own intelligence. Since ancient times, we have sought a dream to enjoy the benefits of artificial minds doing our bidding. As a direct result of this dream, the world has seen a number of unique and very important contributors arise, greatly furthering the science of AI at each instance. We take a look at five of these pivotal pioneers in the field of artificial intelligence.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was an English inventor, mathematician, biologist, and computer scientist. His Turing Machine is one of the first, basic computers to be created. It was this work with computer engineering that led Turing to be an important figure in all AI to come.

In 1950, Alan Turing published a groundbreaking paper that introduced computerized thought to the masses. Next, after admitting the difficulty in measuring machine “thought”, he devised the now-famous Turing Test. The test, still a matter of standards today, holds that if a computer can carry dialogue with a person via a printer, this most basic communication is true proof of that machine’s “thinking”.

Ross Quillian

It is hard to get much detailed information about the true Ross Quillian. From what we do know, Quillian was a leading scientist and researcher during the 1960’s in the fields of electronics and communications. His work with Project SYNTHEX is most widely concerned as his foremost contribution to artificial intelligence.

In Project SYNTHEX, Quillian developed the first semantic web that would be used in AI applications. The semantic web is important because it is a map of words and concepts that a computer can use to understand relations. For example, when you think of the word “breakfast”, your brain understands there to be other words and concepts associated with that same word. These might include things like syrup, hunger, plate, eat, and so on. Quillian’s semantic web was a missing, crucial component to AI before this but now in existence, provided that necessary map of relational understanding to computers.

Edward Feigenbaum

Edward Feigenbaum is another important contributor to the science of AI. His computer science career began remarkably while still in college, creating EPAM, one of the first computer models of human learning for his thesis project. Later in his career, his involvement in several projects at Stanford University showed his continued brilliance.

Of these continued projects, Dendral was the most important to AI sciences. Started in 1965, Dendral used computer systems to identify and communicate the presence of diseases when given spectrometer readings of blood samples. This was the first use of an AI “expert system”, or one specializing in a singular area of study or knowledge.


Another important pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence is not just a single person but a company. IBM hit a major milestone with its development and final creation of Deep Blue. Deep Blue was an artificial intelligence system designed specifically for playing chess. The ultimate goal of the system was indeed to defeat a human chess master for the first time using AI.

After a long period of development and trials, Deep Blue played against world-renowned chessmaster Garry Kasparov. The date was February 10, 1996, and amid great publicity and public attention, it would be the first documented case of AI competing and winning against humans in a contest of any sort.

Marvin Minsky

The final of our five, important pioneers in the field of artificial intelligence is Marvin Minsky. Minsky’s contributions to the field of AI were many and continued until his death in early 2016. It was Minsky that coined the term “perceptrons” in his groundbreaking work concerning artificial neural networks. Minsky also created several, new models for AI systems and continued to contribute to the work of others in the AI field for many years to come. In addition he was valued as an adviser to the entertainment industry, providing expert advice on several projects including Stanley Kubrick’s “A Space Odyssey”.

As a result of the work of these pioneers and others, artificial intelligence continues to expand today. What will we see come of tomorrow’s accomplishments in AI? Like those described here, the future’s pioneers in the field of artificial intelligence will set the course for us all.

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