Up to: Main McCarthy Page

The dates here are those when the entries were installed on my Web page, not when the entries were written, which might be long ago.

The entries start 1995 July 7. Alas, I have been lazy, and this page is incomplete.

Besides these articles, I make some comment from time to time on world, national and scientific affairs. The most recent is dated 2000 April 25. That's what comes from not updating this file of what's new. The most recent comment as of 2006 January 14 is dated 2005 November 5.

Some of my old files that I think have current interested are linked from oldnotes.html. I start on 2004 June 5 with one file on keyboards for arbitrary character sets.

2007 September 28
The Well-Designed Child discusses the initial knowledge of the world that makes a baby more competent than a "Lockean baby" would be. The original is 1996, but I forgot to list it in new.html then. Slides from a 2007 Sept 27 lecture in Rome have been added. I hope the Rome ideas are an improvement.

2006 November 28
Slides for most of my lectures are here.

2006 January 14
AN EVERYWHERE CONTINUOUS NOWHERE DIFFERENTIABLE FUNCTION This note was published in the AMEERICAN MATHEMATICAL MONTHLY in 1953 December. The point of the example is that the proof is 13 lines of rather easy mathematics.

2004 May 17
ROADS TO HUMAN-LEVEL AI contains the slides of a lecture I gave in Australia and at Stanford this Spring.

2004 January 13
NOTES ON SELF-AWARENESS is a preliminary report related to the forthcoming Workshop on self-awareness.

2003 December 13
Universality: or why there are separate sciences tells why a universal mechanism at one level of organization makes the details of lower levels irrelevant. Thus universal computers make computer science independent of basic physics.

2003 September 17
What Edward Teller told me about Heisenberg's mistake may be of some general interest.

2003 August 8
Networks considered harmful - for electronic mail is a 1989 editorial in CACM. Now that Internet is universally available, its considerations are mostly obsolete.

2002 October 26
DETERMINISTIC FREE WILL is a shorter paper than Free Will - Even for Robots. I think it gets to the essence of free will and incorporates it in a situation calculus formula.

2002 October 26
FORMALIZATION OF STRIPS IN SITUATION CALCULUS is a 1985 note aimed at regarding STRIPS as a proof strategy for an interactive theorem prover using a situation calculus formalism. It doesn't quite get there.

2001 November 24
Scientific Forms of the Religious Hypothesis explores the possibility that our world is a computer program written by some god or other artificial creation.

2001 September 28
John Searle's chinese room argument contains a refutation of that argument that computers can't be conscious.

2001 August 22

This is a new (2001 August) article on situation calculus. It differs from previous approaches in three ways. It distinguishes internal events that happen spontaneously from external events (actions). It also treats processes, e.g. a buzzer, that do not settle down. The non-monotonic reasoning is circumscription done situation by situation. It was included in KR-2002.

2001 June 28
THE ROBOT AND THE BABY is a science fiction story. Maybe I'll try to publish it conventionally. Do you think I should?

2001 April 14
Overcoming unexpected obstacles is a note written in 1992 and 1993 describing an important kind of elaboration tolerance. A plan is shown to work by reasoning involving circumscribing a predicate occurs(e,s) asserting that the event e occurs in situation s. If a sentence is added asserting the occurrence of an event that defeats the plan and the circumscription is done again, the plan can no longer be shown to work. In our example, a revised plan including an action that overcomes the obstacle can be shown to work. There is a bug in handling the circumscription that I have not fixed, and this accounts for the long delay in posting this note.

2000 April 27
Situation Calculus with Concurrent Events and Narrative - 1994 This article was intended to be superseded by Combining Narratives by McCarthy and Costello. However, I have become attached to some of the constructions of the original article that were omitted from the new version.

2000 March 2
THE HOME INFORMATION TERMINAL---A 1970 VIEW This article was published in {\em Man and Computer. Proc. int. Conf., Bordeaux 1970, pp. 48-57 (Karger, Basel 1972)}. It is interesting to compare its 1970 proposals with the current situation, 30 years later. I have decorated it with footnotes commenting on the 1970 situation and making comparisons. Some of the improvements advocated in the paper are still yet to come. I claim quite a few prophet points for it.

2000 Feb 23
Phenomenal Data Mining is a slightly updated version of Phenomenal Data Mining that will appear in SIGKDD Explorations.

1999 November 20
Free Will - Even for Robots will appear in a special issue of the Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence devoted to philosophical questions. Robots will need to consider their own choices in a manner similar to that in which a human contemplates his own free will.

1999 Sept 5
Future possibilities contains my ideas about what people may want to do in the future. Some are quite far out, like moving Mars to an orbit that would make it more habitable.

1999 Sept 4
The Shackleton Project is a proposal for privately financed human exploration of the solar system - specifically of the moon. There are two ideas. (1) Human exploration of the solar system is interesting enough to attract private financing that isn't expecting to make money - from the same kind of donor who donates tens of millions to universities or who donates for large telescopes. (2) A one way expedition to the moon with resupply but not return gets the cost down to a few hundred million dollars. There will be qualified volunteers to make a career of exploring the moon.

1999 April 27
Appearance and Reality: A challenge to machine learning contains a puzzle whose solution is to determine the reality behind the appearance you see on the page. The challenge is to make machine learning programs and scientific discovery programs that can find the reality behind appearance in this simple case.

1999 July 19 - improved version.
Making Robots Conscious of their Mental States was given at Machine Intelligence 15, 1995 August in Oxford. To appear in the Proceedings of that workshop. The idea is that many tasks will require the computer programs examine their own computational structures in ways like those involved in human consciousness and indeed self-consciousness.

1999 July 16
AI needs to deal with objects and predicates that don't admit if-and-only-if definitions. It also needs approximate theories and needs to study the relation between entities at different levels of approximation. Logical Theories with Approximate Concepts is preliminary and comments are especially welcome.

1999 July 8
Combining Narratives is by John McCarthy and Tom Costello. It was presented at KR-98 in Trento, Italy.

A major feature of this paper is that sentences describing two independent narratives can be combined just by conjoining the sentences. Sentences can be added later to establish relations between them.

1999 July 8
Useful Counterfactuals by Tom Costello and John McCarthy was published in ETAI (Electronic Transactions on Artificial Intelligence.).

Counterfactual conditional sentences can be useful in artificial intelligence. In particular, they allow reasoners to learn from experiences that they did not quite have. The truth of a counterfactual and the conclusions that can be drawn from a counterfactual are theory dependent, and different theories are useful in different circumstances.

A simple class of useful counterfactuals involves a change of one component of a point in a space provided with a cartesian product structure. We call these cartesian counterfactuals. Cartesian counterfactuals can be modeled by assignment and contents functions as in program semantics. We also study the more general tree-structured counterfactuals.

1999 July 8
Criteria for usefulness of computers in offices is a 1982 article. Its observations are mainly confirmed, but some of the measures it advocates are still not implemented.

1999 June 24
A commentary on important events of the 20th century and expected events of the next was solicited by the San Jose Mercury and published on 1999 June 24. The above is a slightly expanded version.

1999 May 6
The Common Business Communication Language, published in 1982, proposes a language for inter-business inter-computer commmunication. Most of the ideas in this paper have been re-invented in connection with electronic commerce, specifically in connection with XML. [The paper has been on the web site for some time, but I notice it hadn't previously been mentioned among the new postings.]

1999 April 27
Appearance and Reality: A challenge to machine learning contains a puzzle whose solution is to determine the reality behind the appearance you see on the page. The challenge is to make machine learning programs and scientific discovery programs that can find the reality behind appearance in this simple case.

1999 March 17
Creative Solutions to Problems was presented at the AISB Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Creativity, 1999 April 8 and 9 in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

1999 February 17

PHILOSOPHICAL PRESUPPOSITIONS OF LOGICAL AI is a draft of a chapter of a book in preparation on logical AI.

1999 February 1

LISP---NOTES ON ITS PAST AND FUTURE---1980 was published in 1980. I put it up since it mostly represents my present opinions. There are some 1999 footnotes.

1998 August 3
Parameterizing the Set of Models of a Propositional Theory

It is often inadequate that a theory be consistent, i.e. have models. It should have enough models. We discuss parameterizing the set of models in the special case of propositional satisfiability.

1998 August 3
Roofs and Boxes is an example to illustrate that extrapolating past experience to predict the future usually involves recognitions of phenomena in the world and not just the sequence of inputs.

1998 July 18
What if any person could cast his own vote on any issue before a legislature.

1998 May 20
Here are some sayings, which may appeal to some.

1997 Sept 9, updated 1997 Dec 14
Elaboration Tolerance discusses making logical representations of facts that can accept various kinds of modifications easily - best by the addition of sentences.

1997 June 20
On the Model Theory of Knowledge by myself, M. Sato, T. Hayashi and S. Igarashi was written in the late 1970s.

1997 June 13
Review of Kasparov vs. Deep Blue by Monty Newborn. It appeared in Science on 1997 June 6.

1997 April 29
See my advocacy page for a grumble about a statue at the University of Illinois.

1997 April 15
This has also been on the main Web page for some time.
The Mutilated Checkerboard in Set Theory was presented at the QED meeting in Warsaw in 1995 July. It is a proof in set theory that I think an interactive prover for heavy duty set theory should be able to accept. It uses for a different purpose the same problem as the previous paper.

1997 April 13
What is AI? is intended to answer questions I get in email from people uninformed about AI. Suggestions for improving it are welcome, and anyone who has a use for it is welcome to link to it or copy it.

1997 April 4
Modality, si! Modal logic, no! argues that there are better ways, especially for AI, of treating modalities than any kind of modal logic. It will appear in a special issue of Studia Logica devoted to combining logics.

1997 Feb 28
Todd Moody's Zombies is an invited commentary that appeared in Volume 2, Issue 4 (1995) of the Journal of Consciousness Studies.

1996 December 12
The following review appeared in the _Times Higher Education Supplement_ (London) for 1996 November 8 with small editorial changes and a misleading title and illustration.

1996 August 28
Phenomenal Data Mining concerns finding relations between data and phenomena and not just relations within the data. There isn't much AI in the paper - yet, but the idea for phenomenal data mining has somewhat of a philosophical and AI origin. This article is being changed often.

1996 August 19
From Here to Human-level AI, 1996 August, is the basis of an invited talk at KR-96 in 1996 November.

1996 July 27
Concepts of Logical AI has a paragraph each about each of approximately 50 concepts.

1996 June 1
Applications of Circumscription to Formalizing Common Sense Knowledge was first published in Artificial Intelligence in 1986.

1996 June 1
Inversion of Functions Defined by Turing Machines was included in Automata Studies published by Princeton University Press in 1956.

1996 May 17
I just noticed a new anti-scientific report from the from the National Research Council Computer Science and Technology Board. See for comments.

1996 May 17
Elephant 2000 - 1992
This unpublished draft is a proposal for a new programming language, but it includes the mathematical theory of computation proposal for distinguishing input-output and accomplishment specifications, characterizes input and output statements as speech acts and allows reference to the past in programs. It is now in html, whereas it was previously only in .ps form.

1996 May 15
We propose an International Institute for Nuclear Explosions which would conduct research in the scientific and technological uses of nuclear explosions.

1996 May 15
Correctness of a Compiler for Arithmetic Expressions by John McCarthy and James Painter may have been the first formal proof of the correctness of a compiling algorithm. Using abstract syntax and Lisp-style recursive definitions made the formulas short.

1996 May 15
Coloring Maps and the Kowalski Doctrine was a 1982 Stanford report. More is known about realizing the Kempe heuristic by making a Prolog that can run in an introspective mode, and I'll put in a note about it when I get a chance.

1996 May 15
Epistemological Problems of Artificial Intelligence summarized the epistemological problems I saw at that time. It was an invited talk at IJCAI-77. Many of the problems mentioned in this paper were treated later in more detail by myself and other people.

1996 May 15
Generality in Artificial Intelligence relates to my ACM Turing Award lecture given in 1971. However, the ideas didn't gell sufficiently at that time to be written up. In 1987 ACM asked for a summary to include in a volume of Turing Award lectures. Instead I wrote this complete paper. Its actual relation to the 1971 lecture is hard to say.

1996 May 14
Formalization of two Puzzles Involving Knowledge involves formalization of facts about knowledge including both knowing what and knowing that, how to assume and prove non-knowledge, joint knowledge and the effect of learning a fact on the set of facts then known.

1996 May 14
An Example for Natural Language Understanding and the AI Problems it Raises - 1976

1996 May 14
AI Needs more Emphasis on Basic Research was published in AI Magazine in 1983 a a president's message when I was President of AAAI.

1996 May 14
The Little Thoughts of Thinking Machines is a popular article that appeared in Psychology Today in 1983.

1996 May 13
Towards a Mathematical Science of Computation, IFIPS 1962 extends the results of A Basis for a Mathematical Theory of Computation.

1996 May 12
Some Expert Systems Need Common Sense was published in 1984.

1996 May 3
A Basis for a Mathematical Theory of Computation was published in 1963.

1996 April 27
Circumscription - A Form of Nonmonotonic Reasoning was published in Artificial Intelligence in 1980.

1996 April 25
Programs with Common Sense was probably the first paper on logical AI, i.e. AI in which logic is the method of representing information in computer memory and not just the subject matter of the program. The paper was given in the Teddington Conference on the Mechanization of Thought Processes in December 1958 and printed in the proceedings of that conference.

1996 April 25
Some Philosophical Problems from the Standpoint of Artificial Intelligence was published in 1969.

1996 April 20
What is rationality?

1996 April 20
ESSAYS is a subpage of essays on various topics.

1996 April 8
- In 1990 a Stanford flap about censoring a Usenet newsgroup rec.humor.funny ended well.

1996 April 5
A new subpage ADVOCACY contains references to pages in which I advocate something. Its first article concerns on-line scientific publication.

1996 March 24
Ascribing Mental Qualities to Machines concerns what it means for a machine to have beliefs. This started the dispute about whether thermostats could be considered to have beliefs. It was published in 1979 in an obscure collection and reprinted in my 1990 book Formalizing Common Sense.

1996 March 5
Here's a puzzle expressing my attitude towards many human problems. Look at THE DOCTOR'S DILEMMA

1996 February 13
Formats for on-line reading.

A number of papers put up in the meantime were not listed here.

1995 July 7
"A tough nut for proof procedures"

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