Imagining AI: Minds, manuscripts and machines

A black and white drawing of a probability machine with a red stripe across the bottom
DISPLAY

Imagining AI: Minds, manuscripts and machines

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   9 – 26 September 2022 

Transept, Weston Library

About the display

Today’s artificial intelligence (AI) is the latest chapter in a centuries-long story of humanity’s efforts to create self-acting machinery. With the dream of creating these machines comes the possibility that we might create artificial minds like our own.

This display includes manuscripts of Mary Shelley, Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage and Christopher Strachey, alongside a remarkable mechanical ‘Logic Piano’ devised by economist Stanley Jevons. It shows devices and techniques that performed the tasks of our modern computers long before the digital age, and illustrates that even the earliest computers went beyond crunching numbers to  reason, play games and use language. It offers insight into the roots of our modern anxieties about thinking machines, from biting satire to apocalyptic science fiction, as well as the promise of these rapidly advancing technologies.

More of Charles Babbage’s manuscripts and devices can be seen in a parallel display at the History of Science Museum across the road.

 

 

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