Marvin Minsky died last Sunday (Jan. 24), of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 88. This is an incredibly sad loss to many of us, both near and far — it feels as if a hole has been torn in the fabric of our intellectual universe.
For those of you who did not know Marvin, here is a brief overview from the Media Lab web site (where he was a co-founder).
Marvin Minsky has made many contributions to AI, cognitive psychology, mathematics, computational linguistics, robotics, and optics. In recent years he has worked chiefly on imparting to machines the human capacity for commonsense reasoning. His conception of human intellectual structure and function is presented in two books: The Emotion Machine and The Society of Mind (which is also the title of the course he teaches at MIT). He received the BA and PhD in mathematics at Harvard (1950) and Princeton (1954). In 1951 he built the SNARC, the first neural network simulator. His other inventions include mechanical arms, hands and other robotic devices, the Confocal Scanning Microscope, the “Muse” synthesizer for musical variations (with E. Fredkin), and one of the first LOGO “turtles”. He has received the ACM Turing Award, the MIT Killian Award, the Japan Prize, the IJCAI Research Excellence Award, the Rank Prize and the Robert Wood Prize for Optoelectronics, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal. –Media Lab, 2015
More importantly, here is a wonderful video clip that the Media Lab highlighted this week that came from what was surely one of his last public appearances during the Media Lab’s 30th anniversary event in October of 2015. It captures the love and respect that his community felt for him as well as his keen wit that led to it.
Marvin Minsky and Danny Hillis: Mind, Magic & Mischief
For those of you who do not know about the specific connections between Marvin and the New Computer Museum’s collections, check out the Learning & Computing exhibit on this site. Here is a link to a special, seldom seen original video from that exhibit.
Finally, here is a link to a fully-online version of one of his most famous works.
Farewell Marvin, you will be dearly missed!