MARVIN MINSKY, artificial intelligence (AI) pioneer and founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AI lab, has died at the age of 88.
Minsky was once described by author Isaac Asimov as one of only two people he admitted was more intelligent than him (the other being Carl Sagan). Among his claims to fame were early versions of the head-mounted graphical display, a forerunner of virtual reality, and the confocal laser scanning telescope.
Older readers will remember his LOGO programming language which was used to guide a small model turtle with a pen underneath to create intricate patterns. An on-screen version was a popular learning tool in schools using the BBC Micro.
Minksy also invented the first randomly wired neural network learning machine, known as Stochastic Neural Analog Reinforcement Calculator, or SNARC.
He co-authored a book, Perceptrons, which became the go-to foundation for artificial neural networks, although some believe that it led to a blinkered thinking and the so-called AI Winter, which lasted nearly 30 years. In reality, however, the concepts Minsky came up with were valid; he was simply ahead of his time.
Minsky acted as an AI advisor for 2001: A Space Odyssey and was therefore responsible for many aspects of HAL the killer onboard computer.
In later life he was inducted as a fellow of the Computer History Museum in California for his work, and won awards including the Turing Award and the Benjamin Franklin Medal. He was inducted into the IEEE Intelligent Systems Hall of Fame in 2011, and most recently was awarded the Dan David Prize in the field of 'Artificial Intelligence, the Digital Mind'.
Sadly, Minsky's fabulous intelligence was too much for him and he died on Sunday of a brain haemorrhage. A well-known exponent of cryonics, it is not yet known whether he has made arrangements to be frozen, but he did speak out about it in his lifetime. Which is a spectacularly distinctive note to end an obituary piece for a singular mind. µ
Oh and it'll also help give aural pleasure
But it might still not be enough to make virtual reality super appealing
And a ridiculous competition
Now you can talk to your silly-looking earbuds too