The major theme of Artificial Intelligence is the rapid evolution of computers. The computer originated in mathematical theory, chiefly the binary system of algebra worked out by George Boole during the mid-nineteenth century. Another mathematician, Charles Babbage, constructed an “analytical engine” considered to be the forerunner of the computer. Impetus in the development of computers occurred during World War II. Mark I, completed in 1944 after five years of work by Harvard University and IBM, is considered the world’s first electromechanical computer. The Colossus, a British computer, broke German codes and helped the Allies win World War II. All these early computers used vacuum tubes through which electrons moved to create the circuits that enable computers to calculate.
In 1947, Bell Telephone Laboratories revolutionized the computer industry by inventing the transistor to replace the vacuum tube. Electrons move through solid crystal instead of evacuated space in transistors. Gradually, the size of transistors was reduced. In 1960, one transistor fit on one silicon chip; by 1980, a hundred thousand fit on one silicon chip. Simultaneous with this reduction in size came an increase in speed. Circuits within computers can switch off and on in trillionths of a second because of integrated circuits or microprocessors.
Along with the evolution of the physical properties of computers came the evolution of their capabilities. Since the original systems that simply processed information, scientists have begun to create artificial intelligence patterned after human intelligence. Research into enabling computers to see, touch, listen, speak, read, and...
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Artificial Intelligence is a revision of Computers That Think?: The Search for Artificial Intelligence (1982). To gather information for the book, Margaret Hyde consulted experts in various pertinent fields, ranging from C. D. Siegchrist, the IBM technical director who provided some calculations for the book, to Dr. Patrick H. Winston of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was programming a computer to see. By contacting people who were engaged in research, Hyde had the double advantage of getting the most recent information and having experts who could check her material for accuracy.
Hyde’s first book was published in 1941. In 1992, she wrote Peace and Friendship: Russian and American Teens Meet. Through these fifty-one years of writing, she published sixty-four books. All except the first, which was fiction, explore subjects from the sciences or social sciences. Often, the two areas are mixed. Animal Clocks and Compasses (1960) won the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation National Mass Media Award in 1961 for the best children’s book. In 1964, Hyde published Your Brain, Your Computer. Other related books include Brainwashing and Other Forms of Mind Control (1977) and The Violent Mind (1991). Many of Hyde’s social sciences books examine problems that beset young people during a particular era, as shown by Cancer in the Young: A Sense of Hope (1985) and AIDS: What Does It Mean to You? (1986; rev. ed., 1990).