Died: March 5, 2008 (Groben, Germany)
Best Known as: computer programmer who created "Eliza"
Joseph Weizenbaum was a computer programmer who invented a way for humans to interact with computers. He wrote the program “Eliza” while he was a professor at MIT in 1964 and 1965. The program made it possible for a person typing in English to have a conversation with the computer. Weizenbaum became skeptical of computer interaction, however, and troubled by the reliance his students developed for the computer. He wrote a book called “Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation,” in which he criticized the substitution of computers in decision making for the human mind. Weizenbaum returned to Germany in 1996 and often spoke on the social and political consequences of technology.