Since the 1956 Dartmouth conference, artificial intelligence has alternated between periods of great enthusiasm and disillusionment, impressive progress and frustrating failures. Yet, it has relentlessly pushed back the limits of what was only thought to be achievable by human beings. Along the way, AI research has achieved significant successes: outperforming human beings in complex games (chess, Go), understanding natural language, etc. It has also played a critical role in the history of mathematics and information technology. Consider how many softwares that we now take for granted once represented a major breakthrough in AI: chess game apps, online translation programmes, etc.
Its visionary nature makes AI one of the most fascinating scientific endeavors of our time; and as such its development has always been accompanied by the wildest, most alarming and far-fetched fantasies that have deeply colored the general population’s ideas about AI and the way researchers themselves relate to their own discipline. (Science) fiction, fantasy and mass projections have accompanied the development of artificial intelligence and sometimes influence its long-term objectives: evidence of this can be seen in the wealth of works of fiction on the subject, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Her, Blade Runner and a significant proportion of literary science fiction. Finally, it is probably this relationship between fictional projections and scientific research which constitutes the essence of what is known as AI. Fantasies—often ethnocentric and based on underlying political ideologies—thus play a major role, albeit frequently disregarded, in the direction this discipline is evolving in.