Marvin Minsky

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Marvin Minsky

Marvin Lee Minsky (born August 9, 1927) is an American scientist in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), co-founder of MIT's AI laboratory, author of several texts on AI and philosophy, and winner of the 1969 Turing Award.


  • In today's computer science curricula [...] almost all their time is devoted to formal classification of syntactic language types, defeatist unsolvability theories, folklore about systems programming, and generally trivial fragments of "optimization of logic design"–the latter often in situations where the art of heuristic programming has far outreached the special-case "theories" so grimly taught and tested–and invocations about programming style almost sure to be outmoded before the student graduates.
    • "Form and Content in Computer Science"[1], 1969 Turing Award Lecture, Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery 17 (2), April 1970
  • Computer languages of the future will be more concerned with goals and less with procedures specified by the programmer.
    • "Form and Content in Computer Science"[2], 1969 Turing Award Lecture, Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery 17 (2), April 1970
  • 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.
    • "Communication with Alien Intelligence"[3], in Extraterrestrials: Science and Alien Intelligence, Edward Regis, Ed., Cambridge University Press, 1985
    • Also published in Byte Magazine, April 1985
  • We rarely recognize how wonderful it is that a person can traverse an entire lifetime without making a single really serious mistake -- like putting a fork in one's eye or using a window instead of a door.
    • The Society of Mind (1987)
  • What magical trick makes us intelligent? The trick is that there is no trick. The power of intelligence stems from our vast diversity, not from any single, perfect principle.
    • The Society of Mind (1987), p. 308
  • "An ethicist is someone who sees something wrong with whatever you have in mind."
  • "In Jewish tradition, the fetus only becomes a human being when it is admitted to medical school."
    • "Will robots inherit the earth? Yes, but they will be our children."

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