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John McCarthy, sometimes known affectionately as Uncle John McCarthy, is a prominent computer scientist who received the Turing Award in 1971 for his major contributions to the field of Artificial Intelligence. In fact, he was responsible for the coining of the term "Artificial Intelligence" in his 1955 proposal for 1956 Dartmouth Conference.

McCarthy championed expressing knowledge declaratively in mathematical logic for Artificial Intelligence. An alternative school of thought emerged at MIT and elsewhere proposing the "procedural embedding of knowledge" using high level plans, assertions, and goals first in Planner and later in the Scientific Community Metaphor. The resulting controversy is still ongoing and the subject matter of research.

McCarthy invented the Lisp programming language and published its design in Communications of the ACM in 1960. He helped to motivate the creation of Project MAC at MIT, but left MIT for Stanford University in 1962, where he helped set up the Stanford AI Laboratory, for many years a friendly rival to Project MAC.

In 1961, he was the first to publicly suggest that computer time-sharing technology might lead to a future in which computing power and even specific applications could be sold through the utility business model (like water or electricity). This idea of a computer or information utility was very popular in the late 1960s, but faded by the mid-1970s as it became clear that the hardware, software and telecommunications technologies of the time were simply not ready. However, since 2000, the idea has resurfaced in new forms.


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