The Image of Man in Artificial Intelligence

A Conversation with Joseph Weizenbaum


  • Bernhard Pörksen University of Tübingen



Artificial Intelligence, Humanism, Philosophy, Anthropology


Joseph Weizenbaum fled from the Nazis to the USA, later studying mathematics and becoming a professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He became famous for the Eliza program, which simulates a psychotherapist who—apparently at least—tries to understand its client psychologically, and which became a very early example of chatbots simulating human language. His research led Weizenbaum to a critical attitude toward the possibilities, limits and uses of computers. His main work, “The Power of Computers and the Powerlessness of Reason”, dealt with the effects of computers on the world of human experience—at that time a new and, in its explosiveness, still largely unknown topic. This text makes available in English for the first time an interview with Joseph Weizenbaum conducted in 1998. The interview focuses on the development of artificial intelligence, arguments about analogies between human and artificial intelligence, and perspectives on critical thinking about the relationship between humans and computers.


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How to Cite

Pörksen, B. (2023). The Image of Man in Artificial Intelligence: A Conversation with Joseph Weizenbaum. Weizenbaum Journal of the Digital Society, 3(3).