Creator: Halbert, Martin
Description: This article discusses artificial intelligence, libraries, and information retrieval. In the science fiction short story "Anniversary" (Amazing, March 1959), Isaac Asimov described a computer system that combined advanced elements of artificial intelligence and information retrieval. Called "Multivac" in the story (The author wonders if the name was inspired by the UNIVAC systems that were being marketed in the early fifties), Asimov's system is described as "a mile-long super-computer that was the repository of all the facts known to man; that guided man's economy; directed his scientific research; helped make his political decisions--and had millions of circuits left over to answer individual questions that did not violate the ethics of privacy." Multivac was capable of understanding and answering what we would now call natural language queries on any topic. The protagonists of the story typed in their questions on a terminal that worked much like a typewriter.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries