The pursuit of artificial intelligence has long interested computer scientists, but will machines ever think for themselves, asks Lisa Jardine.
In the early 1950s, "machine intelligence" was a favourite topic among those who wanted to put the war years behind them and look forward to a sparkling science-led future.
From robots to electronic brains, the idea was that human beings would be able to concentrate on useful work, while programmable machines took care of useless toil. That unrealised dream still intrigues us today.
In April 1951 I was taken by my parents on an outing to the Bristol laboratory of neuroscience professor William Grey Walter, to see his robotic tortoises.