John McCarthy: The Founder of AI

John McCarthy feature image

August 18th, 2021


Mention ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and people might think we’re talking about science fiction and shiny robots well in fact the signs of AI have been around for decades and it’s all very real.

John McCarthy is widely recognised as the father of Artificial Intelligence. He created lisp the standard programming language used in robotics and other scientific applications and in a multitude of Internet based services.

He was the son of a penniless Irish immigrant from Cromane, Co. Kerry and may be the most important Irish American you have ever heard of. He was an American computer scientist pioneer and inventor.

Many looked at John with scepticism but he persisted in his beliefs that every aspect of learning or every other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can simulate it. McCarthy played a major role in the development of timesharing systems “without timesharing you wouldn’t have the modern Internet” says Lester Ernest who worked with McCarthy at the Massachusetts Institute of technology and the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, which John established in 1972.


Today we refer the term ‘timesharing’ as cloud computing.




When it comes to AI it’s difficult to really know where we’re headed but what we can take away from this research is how far we’ve come from talks of AI in science fiction.

The thing is. We don’t always realize when we’re in contact with artificial intelligence because we’re getting so used to technology doing new and amazing things every day that we don’t stop to think about the science behind the gadgets or programs that we use.

The Fexco Innovation Building where RDI Hub is located is dedicated to John McCarthy and his work. Want to find out more about how McCarthy’s work is shaping the future today? Join us on the 2nd and 3rd of September for the AI Summer School dedicated to the father of AI himself. Sign up below.

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