Dr. Joseph Weizenbaum was my professor in the artificial intelligence course I took at MIT in the 80s. I recall whispers from graduate student TAs that he was extraordinarily famous, but like any normal
Over fifty years ago, Dr. Weizenbaum created the first program to simulate conversation in English with a computer and succeeded in fooling his students to believe they were talking with a real human being. But rather than revel in the implications of his newly developed technology for fame or for profit, Dr. Weizenbaum’s career took a unique turn. He left the emerging field of Computer Science and in the 70s he published the book, Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation, which was the world’s first critique of the future relation between the computer and human beings.
As a child Dr. Weizenbaum fled Nazi Germany and escaped the Holocaust. So his world view was significantly different from most technologists today, and even during his time at MIT. When you keep that context in mind and read his words from Computer Power and Human Reason,
“The computer programmer is a creator of universes for which he alone is the lawgiver. No playwright, no stage director, no emperor, however powerful, has ever exercised such absolute authority to arrange a stage or field of battle and to command such unswervingly dutiful actors or troops.”Dr. Joseph Weizenbaum
Dr. Weizenbaum’s words might give you pause to question the alternative reality we’re about to be sending all the worlds’ minds into … and
Info on a 2006 film “Weizenbaum: A Rebel At Work” is here.