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Marvin Minsky


No computer has ever been designed that is ever aware of what it's doing; but most of the time, we aren't either."

Dr. Marvin Minsky, born Aug. 9, 1927, in New York City; died January 24, 2016, age 88.  Some of his achievements and accolades:
B.A., Harvard University (1949), and Ph.D., Princeton University (1954), both in mathematics;
Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, and Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT; co-founder of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (now known as the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory); founding member of the MIT Media Lab; A. M. Turing Award in computer science (1969); coauthor (with Seymour Papert) of The Society of Mind, which posited that there is no real difference between human and artificial reasoning.

"Speed is what distinguishes intelligence.
No bird discovers how to fly: evolution used a trillion bird-years to 'discover' that—where merely hundreds of person-years sufficed." (source)

Minsky built some of the first visual scanners and r
obotic hands with tactile sensors, the first randomly wired neural network learning machine (the Snarc), and the first confocal scanning microscope, still in use in the biological sciences.  He wrote on "telepresence," and how remotely controlled tools would improve working conditions, for Omni in 1980.

My favorite quote is about 2001: A Space Odyssey, about which Stanley Kubrick consulted with Dr. Minsky: "Probably, HAL made the right decision. Those astronauts did not seem well prepared for such an important expedition."


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