Is Code Language?

ELIZA: A Computer Program For the Study of Natural Language Communication Between Man And Machine (1966)

"It is said that to explain is to explain away. This maxim is nowhere so well fulfilled as in the area of computer programming, especially in what is ealled heuristic programming and artificial intelligence. For in those realms machines are made to behave in wondrous ways, often sufficient to dazzle even the most experienced observer. But once a particular program is unmasked, once its inner workings are explained in language sufficiently plain to induce understanding, its magic crumbles away; it stands revealed as a mere collection of procedures, each quite comprehensible. The observer says to himself "I could have written that". With that thought he moves the program in question from the shelf marked "intelligent", to that reserved for curios, fit to be discussed only with people less enlightened than he.

The object of this paper is to cause just such a reevaluation of the program about to be "explained". Few programs ever needed it more."


This Javascript version (2016) is based upon Connelly's Python port (2012) of Norvig's Common Lisp implementation (1991) of Weizenbaum's original SLISP Doctor (1966).

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