Marvin Minsky

Marvin Minsky

2006 Fellow

For co-founding the field of artificial intelligence, creating early neural networks and robots, and developing theories of human and machine cognition.

No computer has ever been designed that is ever aware of what it's doing; but most of the time, we aren't either. Marvin Minsky

Biography

Cover of The Society of Mind, 1986
Cover of The Society of Mind, 1986

Marvin Minsky was born in New York, New York, in 1927. He holds a B.A. from Harvard University (1949) and a Ph.D. from Princeton University (1954), both in mathematics.

Minsky has been a leading figure in computer science since the 1950s. He is one of the founders of the field of artificial intelligence (AI), and, with John McCarthy, established the MIT AI Lab in 1959 as a world center for research.

Throughout a career that has mirrored AI's general developments and posed some of its most difficult research questions, Minsky has left his imprint on generations of students and colleagues. His work has straddled computer science and psychology by applying computational concepts to the understanding of human psychological processes. This work has been widely influential, as have his parallel efforts in endowing machines with intelligence.

Minsky, who pioneered intelligence-based mechanical robotics and telepresence, designed some of the first mechanical hands with tactile sensors as well as visual scanners and their software and computer interfaces. He also is the inventor of the widely used confocal scanning microscope.

Among the honors he has received are the ACM Turing Award (1969), the Japan Prize (1990), and the Benjamin Franklin Medal (2001).