Marvin Lee Minsky (born August 9, 1927) is an American cognitive scientist in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory, and author of several texts on AI and philosophy.
Marvin Lee Minsky was born in New York City to an eye surgeon and a Jewish activist, where he attended The Fieldston School and the Bronx High School of Science. He later attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He served in the US Navy from 1944 to 1945. He holds a BA in Mathematics from Harvard (1950) and a PhD in mathematics from Princeton (1954). He has been on the MIT faculty since 1958. In 1959 he and John McCarthy founded what is now known as the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He is currently the Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, and Professor of electrical engineering and computer science.
Minsky's inventions include the first head-mounted graphical display (1963) and the confocal microscope (1957, a predecessor to today's widely used confocal laser scanning microscope). He developed, with Seymour Papert, the first Logo "turtle". Minsky also built, in 1951, the first randomly wired neural network learning machine, SNARC.
Minsky wrote the book Perceptrons (with Seymour Papert), which became the foundational work in the analysis of artificial neural networks. This book is the center of a controversy in the history of AI, as some claim it to have had great importance in driving research away from neural networks in the 1970s, and contributing to the so-called AI winter. He also founded several other famous AI models. His book "A framework for representing knowledge" created a new paradigm in programming. While his "Perceptrons" is now more a historical than practical book, the theory of frames is in wide use. Minsky has also written on the possibility that extraterrestrial life may think like humans, permitting communication. He was an adviser on the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and is referred to in the movie and book:
Probably no one would ever know this; it did not matter. In the 1980s, Minsky and Good had shown how neural networks could be generated automatically—self replicated—in accordance with any arbitrary learning program. Artificial brains could be grown by a process strikingly analogous to the development of a human brain. In any given case, the precise details would never be known, and even if they were, they would be millions of times too complex for human understanding.—Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey
In the early 1970s at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, Minsky and Seymour Papert started developing what came to be called The Society of Mind theory. The theory attempts to explain how what we call intelligence could be a product of the interaction of non-intelligent parts. Minsky says that the biggest source of ideas about the theory came from his work in trying to create a machine that uses a robotic arm, a video camera, and a computer to build with children's blocks. In 1986, Minsky published The Society of Mind, a comprehensive book on the theory which, unlike most of his previously published work, was written for a general audience.
In November 2006, Minsky published The Emotion Machine, a book that critiques many popular theories of how human minds work and suggests alternative theories, often replacing simple ideas with more complex ones. Recent drafts of the book are freely available from his webpage.
Awards and affiliations
Minsky won the Turing Award in 1969, the Japan Prize in 1990, the IJCAI Award for Research Excellence in 1991, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal from the Franklin Institute in 2001. In 2006, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Computer History Museum "for co-founding the field of artificial intelligence, creating early neural networks and robots, and developing theories of human and machine cognition." In 2011, Minsky was inducted into IEEE Intelligent Systems' AI's Hall of Fame for the "significant contributions to the field of AI and intelligent systems". In 2014, Minsky won the Dan David Prize in the field of "Artificial Intelligence, the Digital Mind". He was also awarded with the 2013 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Information and Communication Technologies category 
Marvin Minsky is affiliated with the following organizations:
- United States National Academy of Engineering
- United States National Academy of Sciences
- Extropy Institute's Council of Advisors
- Alcor Life Extension Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board
- kynamatrix Research Network's Board of Directors
In the days when Sussman was a novice, Minsky once came to him as he sat hacking at the PDP-6.
"What are you doing?" asked Minsky.
"I am training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-tac-toe," Sussman replied.
"Why is the net wired randomly?" asked Minsky.
"I do not want it to have any preconceptions of how to play," Sussman said.
Minsky then shut his eyes.
"Why do you close your eyes?" Sussman asked his teacher.
"So that the room will be empty."
At that moment, Sussman was enlightened.
Minsky is an atheist.
- Marvin Lee Minsky at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Marvin Lee Minsky at the AI Genealogy Project.
- Minsky, M. (1961). "Steps toward Artificial Intelligence". Proceedings of the IRE 49: 8–1. doi:10.1109/JRPROC.1961.287775.
- Minsky, M. (1988). "Memoir on inventing the confocal scanning microscope". Scanning 10 (4): 128–138. doi:10.1002/sca.4950100403.
- Pesta, A (12 March 2014). "Looking for Something Useful to Do With Your Time? Don't Try This". WSJ. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
- Papert, Seymour; Minsky, Marvin Lee (1988). Perceptrons: an introduction to computational geometry. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-63111-3.
- Minsky, Marvin Lee (1986). The society of mind. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-60740-5. The first comprehensive description of the Society of Mind theory of intellectual structure and development. See also The Society of Mind (CD-ROM version), Voyager, 1996.
- Minsky, Marvin Lee (2007). The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-7664-7.
- Marvin Minsky 2006 Fellow
- List of publications from the DBLP Bibliography Server
- List of publications from Microsoft Academic Search
- Marvin Minsky's publications in Google Scholar
- Science in the contemporary world: an encyclopedia ISBN 1851095241
- Minsky, Marvin Lee (1954). Theory of Neural-Analog Reinforcement Systems and Its Application to the Brain Model Problem (PhD thesis). Princeton University.
- Hillis, Danny; John McCarthy; Tom M. Mitchell; Erik T. Mueller; Doug Riecken; Aaron Sloman; Patrick Henry Winston (2007). "In Honor of Marvin Minsky’s Contributions on his 80th Birthday". AI Magazine (Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence) 28 (4): 103–110. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
- Horgan, John (November 1993). "Profile: Marvin L. Minsky: The Mastermind of Artificial Intelligence". Scientific American 269 (5): 14–15. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1193-35.
- Isaac Asimov (1980). In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1954-1978. Doubleday/Avon. p. 217,302. ISBN 0-380-53025-2.
- The patent for Minsky's Microscopy Apparatus was applied for in 1957, and subsequently granted US Patent Number 3,013,467 in 1961. According to his published biography on the MIT Media Lab webpage, "In 1956, when a Junior Fellow at Harvard, Minsky invented and built the first Confocal Scanning Microscope, an optical instrument with unprecedented resolution and image quality".
- Unknown (1975). "Minsky's frame system theory". Proceedings of the 1975 workshop on Theoretical issues in natural language processing - TINLAP '75. pp. 104–116. doi:10.3115/980190.980222.
- Minsky, Marvin (April 1985). "Communication with Alien Intelligence". BYTE. p. 127. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
- For more, see this interview, https://mitpress.mit.edu/e-books/Hal/chap2/two3.html
- Clarke, Arthur C.: "2001: A Space Odyssey"
- Marvin Minsky's Home Page
- Marvin Minsky - The Franklin Institute Awards - Laureate Database. Franklin Institute. Retrieved on March 25, 2008.
- CHM. "Marvin Minsky — CHM Fellow Award Winner". Retrieved March 30, 2015.[ http://www.computerhistory.org/fellowawards/hall/bios/Marvin,Minsky/]
- "AI's Hall of Fame". IEEE Intelligent Systems (IEEE Computer Society) 26 (4): 5–15. 2011. doi:10.1109/MIS.2011.64.
- "IEEE Computer Society Magazine Honors Artificial Intelligence Leaders". DigitalJournal.com. August 24, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2011. Press release source: PRWeb (Vocus).
- "Dan David prize 2014 winners". May 15, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "MIT artificial intelligence, robotics pioneer feted: Award celebrates Minsky’s career". BostonGlobe.com. August 24, 2011. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- Extropy Institute Directors & Advisors
- Alcor: Scientific Advisory Board
- Minsky joins kynamatrix board of directors
- Minsky -thread.html
- Salon.com Technology | Artificial stupidity
- Leon M. Lederman, Judith A. Scheppler (2001). "Marvin Minsky: Mind Maker". Portraits of Great American Scientists. Prometheus Books. p. 74. ISBN 9781573929325.
Another area where he "goes against the flow" is in his spiritual beliefs. As far as religion is concerned, he's a confirmed atheist. "I think it [religion] is a contagious mental disease. . . . The brain has a need to believe it knows a reason for things.
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- Oral history interview with Marvin Minsky at Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Minsky describes artificial intelligence (AI) research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Topics include: the work of John McCarthy; changes in the MIT research laboratories with the advent of Project MAC; research in the areas of expert systems, graphics, word processing, and time-sharing; variations in the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) attitude toward AI.
- Oral history interview with Terry Winograd at Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Winograd describes his work in computer science, linguistics, and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), discussing the work of Marvin Minsky and others.
- Scientist on the Set: An Interview with Marvin Minsky
- Marvin Minsky Playlist Appearance on WMBR's Dinnertime Sampler radio show November 26, 2003
- Consciousness Is A Big Suitcase: A talk with Marvin Minsky
- Video of Minsky speaking at the International Conference on Complex Systems, hosted by the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI)
- "The Emotion Universe": Video with Marvin Minsky
- Marvin Minsky's thoughts on the Fermi Paradox at the Transvisions 2007 conference
- "Health, population and the human mind": Marvin Minsky talk at the TED conference
- "The Society of Mind" on MIT OpenCourseWare
- Marvin Minsky tells his life story at Web of Stories (video)