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Comments, Queries, and Debate: Pioneer Biographies

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129642D
Original Publication Date: 1990-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 1 page(s) / 13K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

George T. Jacobi: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Johnson Controls, Inc. 5757North Green Bay Avenue Post Office Box 591 Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-0591 It was a pleasure to read through the biographies amusingly annotated by Eric Weiss in the Tenth Anniversary Issue (Annals, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 348-361) and to chuckle at various remarks. I was particularly amused by his remarks on Bruce G. (Barney) Oldfield. Oldfield indeed pushed General Electric reluctantly into computers. In effect, they abandoned computers in order to put their capital into nuclear power. We all know what happened. I would like, however, to take issue in part with several biographies. For the biographies of both Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts, Weiss says: ";inventor....of an erroneous concept, the binary neuron which bears their names..."; Far from being ";erroneous,"; this seminal concept has had a long-range effect. McCulloch and Pitts were well aware of the abstraction which their neuron represented. As a ";wet"; physiologist and MD, Warren McCulloch was well aware of the complexity of the actual human neuron. Nevertheless, McCulloch and Pitts' abstract neuron demonstrated that even so simple a structure had logical completeness. There was nothing ";erroneous"; about it. The last word on neural nets has not yet been written.

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Copyright ©; 1990 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Comments, Queries, and Debate: Pioneer Biographies

George T. Jacobi

Johnson Controls, Inc. 5757North Green Bay Avenue Post Office Box 591 Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-0591

It was a pleasure to read through the biographies amusingly annotated by Eric Weiss in the Tenth Anniversary Issue (Annals, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 348-361) and to chuckle at various remarks. I was particularly amused by his remarks on Bruce G. (Barney) Oldfield. Oldfield indeed pushed General Electric reluctantly into computers. In effect, they abandoned computers in order to put their capital into nuclear power. We all know what happened.

I would like, however, to take issue in part with several biographies. For the biographies of both Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts, Weiss says: "inventor....of an erroneous concept, the binary neuron which bears their names..." Far from being "erroneous," this seminal concept has had a long-range effect. McCulloch and Pitts were well aware of the abstraction which their neuron represented. As a "wet" physiologist and MD, Warren McCulloch was well aware of the complexity of the actual human neuron. Nevertheless, McCulloch and Pitts' abstract neuron demonstrated that even so simple a structure had logical completeness. There was nothing "erroneous" about it. The last word on neural nets has not...