Why Abe?

We use Abraham Lincoln as a standard variable for all of our experiments with artificial intelligence. But why?

There are practical reasons for centering our website on Abraham Lincoln. Crucially, despite his immense fame, he generated a manageable amount of data in his lifetime. He wrote poems, letters, and some of the greatest speeches of all time, but he never wrote a book. He may have one of the most famous faces in history, but he was captured in a finite number (~130) of photographs. There are no videos of Lincoln, and no recordings of his voice. This paucity of data makes it difficult to digitally resurrect Abraham Lincoln, but not impossible. That is an enticing challenge.

But there are deeper and more significant reasons for choosing Abraham Lincoln. After all, these are fractious times, and though it sometimes seems as though we live in a house divided, Americans can generally agree on one thing: Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest Presidents in American history. He consistently resides near the top of any poll ranking the greatest Presidents, and all sides of the political spectrum claim him as their forebear. And why shouldn’t they? He orchestrated the destruction of slavery and the preservation of the Union, and he ultimately gave his life to the cause. Beloved and revered, he now belongs to the ages, and yet there is also a sense that he belongs to all of us. We are all invested in his legacy.

And finally, the real reason that we chose to focus on Abraham Lincoln is that our site’s founder, history professor Abraham Gibson, is a narcissist who wanted his name on the marquee. He wasn’t actually named after Lincoln specifically, but he is more than happy to capitalize on the President’s good name.