History of Machine Learning

1. Alan Turing: In his 1950 paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence“, Alan Turing asked, “Can machine think?“. He describes the “Imitation Game,” which involves three participants – human acting as a judge, another human, and a computer that is attempting to convince the judge that it is human. The judge would type into a terminal program to “talk” to the other two participants. Both the human and the computer would respond, and the judge would decide which response came from the computer. If the judge couldn’t consistently tell the difference between the human and computer responses then the computer won the game.

2. Arthur Samuel: In 1959, Arthur Samuel defined machine learning as a field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.” He is credited with creating one of the self-learning computer programs with his work at IBM. He focused on games as a way of getting the computer to learn things.

The game of choice for Samuel was checkers because it is a simple game but requires a strategy from which the program could learn. With the use of alpha-beta evaluation pruning and minimax strategies, the program would discount moves and thus improve the costly memory performance of the program. Samuel is widely known for his work in artificial intelligence, but he was also noted for being one of the first programmers to use hash tables, and he certainly made a big impact at IBM.