John McCarthy died today at the age of 84. He coined the term Artificial Intelligence and invented LISP: the programming language that every computer scientist interested in A.I. considers to be his first love (as far as programming languages go).
He authored many seminal papers in the field and was the source of much of the enthusiasm (and gentle skepticism) about the possibility of intelligent machines throughout the last half century.
Artificial Intelligence is a young field, and as McCarthy suggested, I believe the 21st century will be its time to shine with intelligent systems in medicine, communication, warfare (for good and for bad), and much more. It’s sad to see one of the field’s visionaries pass away. But I’m excited at the prospect of his work and the work of those he inspired transforming our future in the decades to come.