(For errors found so far and a few updates, see Errata)













book cover

Available from:
Cambridge University Press


And from bookstores, such as:
Amazon.com










Description of the book:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a field within computer science that is attempting to build enhanced intelligence into computer systems. This book traces the history of the subject, from the early dreams of eighteenth-century (and earlier) pioneers to the more successful work of today’s AI engineers. AI is becoming more and more a part of everyone’s life. The technology is already embedded in face-recognizing cameras, speech-recognition software, Internet search engines, and health-care robots, among other applications. The book’s many diagrams and easy-to-understand descriptions of AI programs will help the casual reader gain an understanding of how these and other AI systems actually work. Its thorough (but unobtrusive) end-of-chapter notes containing citations to important source materials will be of great use to AI scholars and researchers. This book promises to be the definitive history of a field that has captivated the imaginations of scientists, philosophers, and writers for centuries.


Here is what some reviewers have said about the book:

"With the investigatory skill of a historian for the earliest work, personal recollections and reflections of early work, and unprecedented access to current researchers; and with the wit of a skilled author and teacher and the insight of a founding father, Nils Nilsson is uniquely qualified to present this lucid, comprehensive, entertaining and balanced history of AI."
Peter Norvig, Director of Research, Google Inc.

"Nils reminds us of the grand scope of the AI enterprise and provides an excellent vantage point from which to assess the remarkable progress that has occurred. At the same time, the book provides unique and detailed historical insight into how things really happened. My only complaint is that Nils has, as always, understated his own important role in the story."
Stuart Russell, University of California, Berkeley

"Nilsson is one of the world's earliest AI researchers and practitioners, and here he presents a vivid history of Artificial Intelligence - its early breakthroughs, intermediate setbacks, current successes, and forthcoming triumphs."
Takeo Kanade, U.A. and Helen Whitaker University Professor, Carnegie Mellon University

"Nils Nilsson has written the definitive intellectual history of Artificial Intelligence research; something that he himself has been a key player in for over forty of its 53 years. In this book he not only explains all of the major ideas and fashions in AI, but he traces how the ideas arose, where they arose and why. This well mannered book explains AI. All of it."
Rodney Brooks, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

"A wonderfully comprehensive and entertaining look at how artificial intelligence was invented and developed."
Alan Kay, President of Viewpoints Research Institute

"Nils's book is a tour de force that serves as a valuable hiker's guide through the twists and turns of the historical trails of the first several decades of the quest for artificial intelligence."
Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research and President of the AAAI

"Nilsson's new book is a fascinating chronology of artificial intelligence, written by one of the doyens of the field. It should appeal to a broad audience with its sweeping coverage of topics ranging from game playing to computer vision and natural language processing."
Prabhakar Raghavan, Head of Yahoo! Labs

"A balanced look at what AI has been able to do during its first 50 years of existence. His personal recollections and the rationale behind many decisions, as retold by an insider, make this book a unique contribution, interesting both for the informed and for the general reader. Both kinds of readers can learn a lot from Nilsson’s book about the evolution of this now-mature research field. The book is written in a friendly conversational style, without any unnecessary mathematical formalisms, and is richly illustrated with many diagrams that depict representative AI systems and photographs of the many innovators that led to their development."
Fernando Berzal, reviews.com

"Nilsson crafts a highly readable and personal account of the theory and practitioners that brought the world to present-day AI... the text [is] accessible and the descriptions personal."
T. Armstrong, Wheaton College for Choice Magazine










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