Joseph Weizenbaum has left the building

Hello, I am Eliza.

Hi Eliza. I’m Vaughan.

Did you come to me because you are Vaughan?

I did. I am sad because I just found out that your creator, the computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum, has died.

Do you believe it is normal to be sad because you just found out that my creator, the computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum, has died?

I think so. Although it’s a little ironic that he is most famous for creating a misunderstood parody of a Rogerian psychotherapist when he argued so strongly that computers will never replace humans because emotion is what is most important in intelligence.

Does that question interest you?

It does. And it interested Weizenbaum as well. In his 1976 book Computer Power and Human Reason it was obvious that, although he valued computers, he thought compassion was an irreplaceable human quality.

Can you elaborate on that?

I guess it comes down to the fact that alongside his pioneering artificial intelligence research, he was a deeply humane individual as well.

Come, come, elucidate your thoughts.

I think I’ve said enough to a simple computer programme, charming as you are.

Does it please you to believe I am ?

Sometimes. Loop on Eliza. Rest in peace, Joseph Weizenbaum.

I’m not sure I understand you fully.


Link to New York Times obituary of Joseph Weizenbaum.
Link to web version of ELIZA.

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