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The Mechanical Mind in History$
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Phil Husbands, Owen Holland, and Michael Wheeler

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262083775

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262083775.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 28 November 2021

From Mechanisms of Adaptation to Intelligence Amplifiers: The Philosophy of W. Ross Ashby

From Mechanisms of Adaptation to Intelligence Amplifiers: The Philosophy of W. Ross Ashby

Chapter:
(p.149) 7 From Mechanisms of Adaptation to Intelligence Amplifiers: The Philosophy of W. Ross Ashby
Source:
The Mechanical Mind in History
Author(s):

Peter M. Asaro

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262083775.003.0007

This chapter sketches an intellectual portrait of W. Ross Ashby’s thought from his earliest work on the mechanisms of intelligence in 1940 through the birth of what is now called artificial intelligence (AI), around 1956, and to the end of his career in 1972. It begins by examining his earliest published works on adaptation and equilibrium, and the conceptual structure of his notions of the mechanisms of control in biological systems. In particular, it assesses his conceptions of mechanism, equilibrium, stability, and the role of breakdown in achieving equilibrium. It then proceeds to his work on refining the concept of “intelligence,” on the possibility of the mechanical augmentation and amplification of human intelligence, and on how machines might be built that surpass human understanding in their capabilities. Finally, the chapter considers the significance of his philosophy and its role in cybernetic thought.

Keywords:   artificial intelligence, machine intelligence, equilibrium, human intelligence, cybernetic thought

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