John McCarthy is Dead

Fuck it, I’m renaming this month Black October. Along with technology giants Steve Jobs and Dennis Richie, John McCarthy has passed away this month:

The creator of Lisp and arguably the father of modern artificial intelligence, John McCarthy, died today. He studied mathematics with the famous John Nash at Princeton and, notably, held the first “computer-chess” match between scientists in the US and the USSR. He transmitted the moves by telegraph.

McCarthy believed AI should be interactive, allowing for a give and take similar to AI simulators like Eliza and, more recently, Siri. His own labs were run in an open, free-wheeling fashion, encouraging exploration and argument. He won the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery in 1972 and the National Medal of Science in 1991.

He was a great mind that contributed an unfathomable amount of knowledge to the field of artificial intelligence. Like Dennis Richie, the works of John McCarthy are marvels that enrich our lives everyday but few know anything about them. He was another grand master who worked in the shadows to deliver us better computing technology.

I would damn him for creating the LISP programming language and the endless number of parenthesis it demands his contributions well makeup for the syntax of the language he born. We will miss you John, and while your contributions to society won’t be celebrated to the degree Steve Job’s were do know that many of use recognized you for who you were and the accomplishments you made.

Now if every other major player in the technology industry would do me a favor and stay alive until November I’d greatly appreciate it. I don’t enjoy having to write three obituaries in one month.