Joseph Weizenbaum was a German-born computer scientist who made his name at MIT. He is considered a forefather of modern artificial intelligence studies due to his creation of a program called ELIZA. ELIZA was a primitive AI program that was able to recognize speech patterns and hold simple, repetitive conversations with the user. Weizenbaum is particularly important to Carr for the conclusions he comes to in his book Computer Power and Human Reason, namely that computer science was not only limited but that AI developments placed our humanity at risk. These surprising viewpoints made him unpopular in his field.
The timeline below shows where the character Joseph Weizenbaum appears in The Shallows. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.