Computer Power and Human Reason

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Computer Power and Human Reason
Computer Power and Human Reason by Joseph Weizenbaum.jpg
Book cover
AuthorJoseph Weizenbaum
PublisherW. H. Freeman and Company
Publication date
Media typePrint

Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation (1976) by Joseph Weizenbaum displays the author's ambivalence towards computer technology and lays out the case that while artificial intelligence may be possible, we should never allow computers to make important decisions because computers will always lack human qualities such as compassion and wisdom.

Weizenbaum makes the crucial distinction between deciding and choosing. Deciding is a computational activity, something that can ultimately be programmed. It is the capacity to choose that ultimately makes us human. Choice, however, is the product of judgment, not calculation. Comprehensive human judgment is able to include non-mathematical factors such as emotions. Judgment can compare apples and oranges, and can do so without quantifying each fruit type and then reductively quantifying each to factors necessary for mathematical comparison.

The book caused disagreement with, and separation from other members of the artificial intelligence research community, a status the author later said he'd come to take pride in.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Joseph Weizenbaum, Famed Programmer, Is Dead at 85". The New York Times. March 13, 2008.

External links[edit]