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A History of Artificial Intelligence

Marvin Minsky

Marvin Lee Minsky (1927– ) has been one of the leading developers of artificial intelligence since the 1950s, when the term was coined. He cofounded MIT's AI Laboratory, but is best known for his written works on AI and its philosophical implications.

Minsky was said to be a prodigy in both math and music. In high school, he focused on intelligence, going on to study mathematics at Harvard (1950) and Princeton (1954). Restless, he sought inspiration and enlightenment from other disciplines as he tried to understand how the mind worked.

With a colleague in 1951, Minsky built a machine named SNARC that could master maneuvering through a maze. This is considered the construction of the first neural network that prompted his doctoral thesis on automated learning.

Since then, Minsky has worked exclusively with computers, attending the Dartmouth conference where the term “artificial intelligence” was introduced. With John McCarthy, he founded MIT's AI Lab in 1959, where he remains today. Minsky has made a career out of studying the brain, intelligence, and learning, applying much of that information to designing computer systems that can learn. He considers himself the living authority on the human mind.

Minsky's achievements have been rewarded with numerous patents, including the development of the first graphics display visible from a head-mounted device in 1963. He also consulted with director Stanley Kubrick on how AI should be employed in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Minsky has been honored around the world for his efforts.

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