Viewing the History of Science as Compiled Hindsight

Lindley Darden


This article is a written version of an invited talk on artificial intelligence (AI) and the history of science that was presented at the Fifth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-86) in Philadelphia on 13 August 1986. Included is an expanded section on the concept of an abstraction in AI; this section responds to issues that were raised in the discussion which followed the oral presentation. The main point here is that the history of science can be used as a source for constructing abstract theory types to aid in solving recurring problem types. Two theory types that aid in forming hypotheses to solve adaptation problems are discussed: selection theories and instructive theories. Providing cases from which to construct theory types is one way in which to view the history of science as "complied hindsight" and might prove useful to those in AI concerned with scientific knowledge and reasoning.

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