In 1966, Weizenbaum published a program called ELIZA, which performed natural language processing. It could engage humans in a dialogue, which bore closeness to one with an empathic psychotherapist. Weizenbaum was surprised that many handlers, who would open their hearts to it, took the program seriously. He started to reflect theoretically about the consequences of artificial intelligence and became one of its foremost opponents.
His prominent book “Computer Power and Human Reason” (1976) shows his doubt towards computer technology: while artificial intelligence may be achievable, mankind should not allow computers to make important judgements because they will permanently lack the qualities of wisdom and compassion. - The Weizenbaum Award is named after him.
- Islands in the Cyberstream: Seeking Havens of Reason in a Programmed Society
- Joseph Weizenbaum is best known in the English-speaking world for his 1976 popular critique of artificial intelligence, Computer Power and Human Reason.
- Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation
- A classic text by the author who developed ELIZA, a natural-language processing system.