In this review, we explore the historical development and future prospects of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning in astronomy. We trace the evolution of connectionism in astronomy through its three waves, from the early use of multilayer perceptrons, to the rise of convolutional and recurrent neural networks, and finally to the current era of unsupervised and generative deep learning methods. With the exponential growth of astronomical data, deep learning techniques offer an unprecedented opportunity to uncover valuable insights and tackle previously intractable problems. As we enter the anticipated fourth wave of astronomical connectionism, we argue for the adoption of GPT-like foundation models fine-tuned for astronomical applications. Such models could harness the wealth of high-quality, multimodal astronomical data to serve state-of-the-art downstream tasks. To keep pace with advancements driven by Big Tech, we propose a collaborative, open-source approach within the astronomy community to develop and maintain these foundation models, fostering a symbiotic relationship between AI and astronomy that capitalizes on the unique strengths of both fields.
- machine learning
- neural networks