I’m 43 and I remember the death of 5th Generation Project in the late 80s

I’m 43 and I remember the death of 5th Generation Project in the late 80s (well, I learned about it in 1990/1991)

I had a CS professor who was very lucky to have a NeXT. He was very pro LISP, anti PROLOG but was skeptical of the future of parallel processing and AI generally because of reports he was getting about the failing FGCS in Japan.

Handwriting was on the wall and he already looked at his brand new NeXT with some sadness, like a prototype of great things that won’t be. [he wanted more but this was Hampshire College, whose emphasis was still on film and funding for the computer dept was lackluster at best]

He suggested I get some Pascal under my belt, because I had experience in BASIC, start moving away from the VAX/VMS and start working in the Unix environment and C, master Emacs and THEN come back to him in a few semesters for LISP if I was still interested.

I had a friend who was doing some Neural Network stuff as well who, in contrary to the professor, was very excited about the future of AI and machine learning.

Well, I never got that far. I found my child psych classes more interesting than programming, although I did take his suggestion on a Pascal course which, to me, wasn’t any much different than BASIC, toyed around with the Unix systems but preferred the VAX and the Internet (well, BITNET but the Internet was nice too), mailing lists and such.

Alas, money ran out in late 1991, so I could never complete a full set of anything.

Still, I got to revisit LISP years later on a theoretical basis on my own and was toying with it as well as finally mastering the basics of Emacs along with Erlang (the parallel-ness of Erlang fascinated me – this was very recent though, just a few years ago)

Never did dabble in Prolog though.

I was surprised when AI made a comeback though. I expected neural networking to be dead forever. All the languages but C that my professors were teaching were dying off in the 90s.

Thrilled in the early 2000s when I started to get news of robotics projects and AI starting to make a comeback but I was still very skeptical.

[mostly I was telling Google to go through my old Usenet postings from the early 90s and delete them ’cause they sucked up Usenet and exposed it to people like my mother at work suddenly, so I had to act fast to get those old posts off]

Anyway, when you said “No modern computer language” – you brought me back 25 years to seeing dusty APL books with its weird typewriter…wide carriage teletype machines that were being pushed aside by the green screens… and a future direction I didn’t take.

No regrets either but I’m simply glad the AI winter finally ended. I suspect had I followed suit in my original goals I would’ve either been working in linguistics/AI stuff or Theoretical Physics and been stuck working on string theories higher math but ended up skipping all of it thanks to no $$.. and a mathematics professor I was counting on being on sabbatical my first semester causing me to go into child psych as a primary focus instead of physics, and enough classes in child psych to help me understand people in general… perhaps in the end a far more useful thing for me to have gotten smile emoticon

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