Marvin Minsky was a cognitive scientist who was regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities in the field of artificial intelligence, having made fundamental contributions in the sectors of robotics and computer-aided learning technologies. [1]

WIRED: Marvin Minsky wearing an interactive glove in the MIT robotics lab in the early 1980s Credit DAN MCCOY/RAINBOW/RGB VENTURES/SUPERSTOCK/ALAMY

Professor Minsky’s scientific accomplishments spanned a variety of disciplines. He designed and built some of the first visual scanners and mechanical hands with tactile sensors, advances that influenced modern robotics. In 1951 he built the first randomly wired neural network learning machine, which he called Snarc. And in 1956, while at Harvard, he invented and built the first confocal scanning microscope, an optical instrument with superior resolution and image quality still in wide use in the biological sciences. Marvin was one of the very few people in computing whose visions and perspectives liberated the computer from being a glorified adding machine to start to realize its destiny as one of the most powerful amplifiers for human endeavors in history, said Alan Kay, a computer scientist and a friend and colleague of Professor Minsky’s. [2]



Listen to Marvin Minsky discuss what exactly brains are in this interview from “Closer to Truth.”



Even though Minsky passed away in early 2016, his legacy lives on. As a founding faculty member of the MIT Media Lab, his foundation has started a fellowship program for students researching AI.

Interested in learning more about Marvin Minsky? Check out his MIT website, which includes an annotated list of some of his books and papers.