Marvin Minsky, Artificial Intelligence Trailblazer, Dead at 88

Dr. Marvin Minksy

Marvin Minsky in 2008

Dr. Marvin Minksy, artificial Intelligence pioneer and inspiration for both the personal computer and Internet, passed away on January 24th, 2016. He was 88 years old. The cause of death is reported to have been a cerebral hemorrhage.

Before joining the faculty of MIT in 1958, Minsky first earned a BA in mathematics from Harvard in 1950 and a PhD in mathematics from Princeton 1954. In 1959, Professor Minsky and fellow MIT cognitive scientist John McCarthy co-founded the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

In the early 1970s Professor Minsky collaborated with MIT mathematician Seymour Papert to write the book Perceptrons: an introduction to computational geometry. Unfortunately most readers misinterpreted the authors’ conclusions about the computational limitations of perceptrons, simple, single-layer artificial neural networks. As a direct result, neural network research and funding declined significantly for more than a decade until in the 1980’s when researchers disproved these erroneous conclusions.

Professor Minksy was the recipient of many awards and accolades over the course of his prolific, almost 60 year-long carrier. In 2011, he was inducted into IEEE Intelligent Systems‘ AI Hall of Fame.

Marvin Minsky is the proverbial giant whose broad shoulders will provide a perch for all who come after him to see further than could’ve ever dreamt of otherwise.

When no idea seems right, the right one must seem wrong.

– Marvin Minsky, Music, Mind, and Meaning (1981)


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