Allen Newell

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Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
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Allen Newell (1927-03-19 - 1992-07-19) was a researcher in computer science and cognitive psychology at the RAND corporation and at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science. He contributed to the Information Processing Language (1956) and two of the earliest AI programs, the Logic Theory Machine (1956) and the General Problem Solver (1957) (with Herbert Simon). He was awarded the ACM's A.M. Turing Award along with Herbert Simon in 1975 for their basic contributions to artificial intelligence and the psychology of human cognition.

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  • With the hubris common to physicists, I have always felt that I have known what good science is — it is theory cast in terms of mechanisms that describe how parts of the universe behave. With sometimes immense historical delay, these mechanisms always move towards being grounded in the larger mechanistic view of the universe. Theories always propose a view of how the universe is. They can never be effectively argued to be true, but only be brought before the bar of empirical evidence. All the modern concern for contextualism, hermeneutics and the social determination of meaning has its point, but is a mere footnote to the massive evidence for this view of science. The overwhelming success within this framework of modern biology over the last half century has provided another major confirmation, if one is needed. Someday we will get another striking confirmation from cognitive science. Though it can be argued that we are well on our way, we still have an immense distance to go. Arguments are no match for the evidence that cognitive science does not control its subject the way physics, chemistry and now biology do.

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