Monday, April 24, 2017

Professor Hubert Dreyfus (1929 - 2017)

UC Berkeley Professor Hubert Dreyfus has passed away at the age of 87. Professor Dreyfus is a hero of mine. He was a fearless rebel at heart, the first to criticise the AI community for their symbolic AI nonsense. They hated him for it but he was right, of course. Did the AI community ever apologise for their personal attacks on him? Of course not. The AI community has always been full of themselves and they still are.

Dreyfus contributed more to the field of artificial intelligence than its best practitioners. His insistence that the brain does not model the world is an underappreciated tour de force. His ability to connect the works of his favorite philosophers (Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty) to the working of the brain was his greatest intellectual achievement in my opinion. I wrote an article about this topic in July of last year. Please read it to appreciate the depth of Dreyfus' understanding of a field that rejected him.

The World Is its Own Model or Why Hubert Dreyfus Is Still Right About AI

The world owes Professor Dreyfus a debt of gratitude. Thank you, Professor.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I feel you. I discovered Dreyfus' work some months ago, thanks to your linked blog post, and it felt I finally found the critical teacher I expected to encounter during my time on university. While I was always interested in phenomenology and existentialism, he was the first one to connect these fields to practical use in computer science.

(I wouldn't call him a rebel though. Reading this obituary ( and the comments it seems he was always open to new insights -- it seems just that the field of AI never managed to change his mind.)