Remembering Computing Pioneer Marvin Minsky, Dead at 88

The science and technology community is mourning the loss of Marvin Minsky, the MIT-based artificial intelligence and computing giant, who passed away Sunday at the age of 88.

Minsky is a transcendent figure who cut major swaths through the history of scientific research, education, philosophy, and technology. His ideas are credited with influencing everything from modern-day computers and the Internet to A.I. techniques such as machine learning, as well as neuroscience and robotics. But perhaps his greatest achievement was in teaching people, not machines, to think.

Minsky’s legacy of ideas and research may take generations to understand, let alone fully appreciate. Here are five reflections on his life:

—The New York Times gives a proper sense of Minsky’s breadth of expertise and interests.

—The Washington Post captures his good-natured disdain for unsophisticated approaches to A.I. and cognitive science.

—Minsky’s TED talk from 2003 covered “health and the human mind.”

MIT Technology Review has a video interview from Minsky’s home last fall.

MIT’s obituary highlights some of his concrete achievements and honors. Among them, Minsky was instrumental in creating MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and the MIT Media Lab, whose research and projects, of course, live on.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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