This Day in History: August 9
August 9, 1927
Computer Pioneer Marvin Minsky Born
Minsky has made many major contributions to computer science in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), cognitive psychology, mathematics, computational linguistics, robotics, and optics. In 1987, Minsky wrote the landmark book The Society of Mind, which proposed that human consciousness and thought processes were decomposable into a series of mini-minds or agents, each of which performed specific functions. Minsky received a BA and PhD in mathematics at Harvard and Princeton. There he envisioned a “rat-in-a-maze” neural network simulator, which became the Stochastic Neural Analog Reinforcement Calculator (SNARC) built with assistance from Dean Edmonds. His other inventions include mechanical hands and other robotic devices, the confocal scanning microscope, the Muse synthesizer for musical variations (with Ed Fredkin), and the first LOGO turtle (with Seymour Papert). His later work focused on understanding the connections between computers and commonsense reasoning.