RIP: Artificial Intelligence Visionary Marvin Minsky Dies At 88

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Marvin Minsky, the founding father of artificial intelligence and whose work inspired the creation of personal computers, died at a hospital in Boston on Sunday night. The cause of his death was a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 88. Professor Minsky was survived by his wife Gloria Rudisch, two daughters and a son. Marvin Minsky is hailed as one of the most thoughtful scientists.

Marvin Minsky co-founded the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

During his long tenure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor Minsky laid the foundation for artificial intelligence by showing the possibilities of bringing common-sense reasoning to computers. He studied mathematics at Harvard and Princeton before joining the MIT faculty in 1958. Professor Minsky believed that there was little difference between the human thinking process and that of machines.

In 1959, he co-founded the MIT Artificial Intelligence Project (now Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) with his colleague John McCarthy, who coined the term artificial intelligence. They were working on AI long before the invention of the personal computer or microprocessor. In 1969, Professor Minsky received the Turing Award, the highest prize in computer science.

He laid the groundwork for modern robotics

Minsky had always been fascinated by AI. He built the first randomly wired neural network learning machine in 1951. He designed some of the first mechanical hands with tactile sensors, and visual scanners. These advances had a significant impact on modern robotics. While at Harvard in 1956, Marvin Minsky built the first confocal scanning microscope, which is still widely used in the biological sciences.

Minsky firmly believed that computers could do much more than executing a set of predefined instructions. He said there was no difference between humans and machines. Neurons are just semiautonomous relays in our brain. In the mid-1980s, he proposed that intelligence is not a product of any singular mechanism, but it comes from “the managed interaction of a diverse variety of resourceful agents.” And different tasks require fundamentally different mechanisms.


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