Professor Marvin Minsky passed away on Sunday aged 88, from a cerebral hemorrhage. Although the name may not be as widely known as Alan Turing or LISP creator John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky was one of the founders of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer science discipline. He co-founded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence project along with John McCarthy in 1959, and together they brought AI to the wider world. (John McCarthy passed away at 84 , just over four years ago.)
As well as his notable mathematical and AI contributions, he was a science advisor for Stanley Kubrik’s 2001 who was interested whether it would be possible for computers to speak by 2001. (Today, Siri answers questions given to it verbally; although it cannot yet read lips.)
In 1969 he was awarded the Turing Award for creating, promoting and advancing the field of artificial intelligence. He also wrote Perceptrons in 1969 (since updated in 1987) which developed the idea of neural networks, based on the way that neurons work in the brain. Neural networks have gone on to become a key part in image recognition and classification systems in artificial intelligence.
He continued to be interested in how the mind works, with publications including The Society of Mind and The Emotion Machine , which put forward theories of how the mind works, although he viewed the turing test as a joke. He created a course at MIT on the society of mind, including 13 video lectures. Professor Minsky also recorded a collection of stories of his early childhood at the web of stories.
Professor Minsky is survived by his wife, and their three children.