Article ID: CBB555143934

The lamp and the lighthouse: Joseph Weizenbaum, contextualizing the critic (2021)


The life and work of the computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum is a testament to the ways in which the field of artificial intelligence has engendered discontent. In his articles, public talks, and most notably in his 1976 book, Computer Power and Human Reason, Weizenbaum challenged the faith in computerized solutions and argued that the proper question was not whether computers could do certain things, but if they should. As a computer scientist speaking out against computers, Weizenbaum has often been treated as something of a lone Jeremiah howling in the wilderness. However, as this article demonstrates, such a characterization fails to properly contextualize Weizenbaum. Drawing upon his correspondence with Lewis Mumford, this article argues that Weizenbaum needs to be understood as part of a community of criticism, while also exploring how he found the role of discontented critic to be a lonely and challenging one.

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Authors & Contributors
Grell, Chantal
Rawlins, Dennis
Renwick, Chris
Gunn, Richard C.
Ferraro, Giovanni
Nierenberg, Nicolas
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Bollettino di Storia delle Scienze Matematiche
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Cambridge University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Tredition Science
University of Wisconsin Press
Scientific communities; interprofessional relations
Controversies and disputes
Correspondence and corresponding
Discipline formation
Societies; institutions; academies
Hevelius, Johannes
Mumford, Lewis
Geddes, Patrick
Euler, Leonhard
Alembert, Jean le Rond d'
Nierenberg, William Aaron
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
19th century
17th century
18th century
16th century
Great Britain
United States
Berlin (Germany)
National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
Royal Society of London

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