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Artificial Intelligence Research in West Germany

This project will run for three years from early 2020 to the end of 2022. It explores the historical development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) research in West Germany by looking at five areas: automated theorem proving, expert systems, image recognition & processing, language recognition & processing, and cognitive science. The case studies will use archival research and oral histories.

The project is based at the Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany. Working with the PI Dr Rudolf Seising are Dinah Pfau, Jakob Tschandl, Florian Müller and – of course – myself! I am looking at the relations between AI and cognitive science.

There is a project site as part of the Deutsches Museum‘s website. You can also check our own website for more information.


Artificial intelligence (AI) has been with us for over half a century. From the Dartmouth College summer school that coined its name in 1956 it has moved across disciplinary and geographical borders, and today AI researchers are based in universities and institutes all over the world. AI is attracting attention – and increasingly, that attention is historical.

During our online conference “AI in Flux,” we discuss the transformations and circulations of the idea, science, and technology of artificial intelligence since it has left its original US-American context. Hosted by the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, the conference consists of two parts. The first day (29 Nov 2021) will be held in German and introduces perspectives on AI and related topics from the humanities. On the second and third day (30 Nov-1 Dec 2021) an English-language programme discusses the history of AI and cybernetics beyond the American context. The speakers will shed light on the transformations that happened to these ideas after they began circulating globally. Talks about contemporary approaches to AI will complete the conference.


If you want to register for the conference, please send an email stating your name and affiliation (if applicable) to With your registration you agree to our use of your data for the conference organisation. 

If you want to receive information about activities concerning the history of AI in the future, let us know in your registration email. A short sentence or the word “mailing list” will suffice.

PS: We may get to be known as the “IGGI team” – the German project title is “Ingenieur-Geist und Geistes-Ingenieure”. This loosely translates to “Engineering spirit and engineers of the mind”, a translation which unfortunately doesn’t capture the symmetry of the original.

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