Marvin Minsky, a pioneering mathematician, cognitive scientist, and computer engineer, and a father of artificial intelligence (AI), passed away in late January, at the age of 88. Minsky, who received his BA and PhD in mathematics from Harvard and Princeton, respectively, was Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, Emeritus, at MIT.
He was widely regarded as one of the world's leading authorities in artificial intelligence. His seminal book, Society of Mind, explores intellectual structure and function, and is often used for understanding the diversity of the mechanisms interacting in intelligence and thought. Minsky received numerous awards for his work, including being inducted into the AI Hall of Fame, established by the IEEE Computer Society.
Erik Brynjolfsson, Professor of Information Technology at MIT Sloan and Director of The MIT Center for Digital Business, told SearchCIO that Minsky "changed the way we think about thinking." Inspired by mathematical work on logic and computation, Minsky believed that the human mind was fundamentally no different than a computer. He focused on engineering intelligent machines, first at Lincoln Lab, and then later as a professor at MIT, where he cofounded the Artificial Intelligence Lab in 1959 with another pioneer of the field, John McCarthy, who passed away in 2011.