Marvin Minsky, fully Marvin Lee Minsky

Minsky, fully Marvin Lee Minsky

American Cognitive Scientist in the field of Artificial Intelligence, Co-Founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI Laboratory, Author

Author Quotes

Concrete concepts are not necessarily the simplest ones. A novice best remembers "being at" a concert. The amateur remembers more of what it "sounded like." Only the professional remembers the music itself, timbres, tones and textures.

I heard that the same thing occurred in a scene in Alien, where the creature pops out of the chest of a crewman. The other actors didn't know what was to happen; the director wanted to get true surprise.

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

Societies need rules that make no sense for individuals. For example, it makes no difference whether a single car drives on the left or on the right. But it makes all the difference when there are many cars!

We shall envision the mind (or brain) as composed of many partially autonomous "agents"?as a "Society" of smaller minds. ...It is easiest to think about partial states that constrain only agents within a single Division. ...(we suggest) the local mechanisms for resolving conflicts could be the precursors of what we know later as reasoning?useful ways to combine different fragments of knowledge.

Each part of the mind sees only a little of what happens in some others, and that little is swiftly refined, reformulated and "represented." We like to believe that these fragments have meanings in themselves?apart from the great webs of structure from which they emerge?and indeed this illusion is valuable to us qua thinkers?but not to us as psychologists?because it leads us to think that expressible knowledge is the first thing to study.

I maintain that attitudes do really precede propositions, feelings come before facts.

Of what use is musical knowledge? Here is one idea. Each child spends endless days in curious ways; we call this play. A child stacks and packs all kinds of blocks and boxes, lines them up, and knocks them down. ...Clearly, the child is learning about space! on earth does one learn about time? Can one time fit inside another? Can two of them go side by side? In music, we find out!

Speed is what distinguishes intelligence. No bird discovers how to fly: evolution used a trillion bird-years to 'discover' that?where merely hundreds of person-years sufficed.

We still remain prone to doctrines, philosophies, faiths, and beliefs that spread through the populations of entire civilizations. It is hard to imagine any foolproof ways to protect ourselves from such infections... the best we can do is to try to educate our children to learn more skills of critical thinking and methods of scientific verification.

Each sub-society of mind must have its own internal epistemology and phenomenology, with most details private, not only from the central processes, but from one another.

I suspect our human "thinking processes" often "break down," but you rarely notice anything's wrong, because your systems so quickly switch you to think in different ways, while the systems that failed are repaired or replaced.

Old answers never perfectly suit new questions, except in the most formal, logical circumstances.

Stanley Kubrick knew we had good graphics around MIT and came to my lab to find out how to do it. We had some really good stuff. I was very impressed with Kubrick; he knew all the graphics work I had ever heard of, and probably more.

We tend to think about reasoning as though it were something quite apart from the knowledge and memories that it exploits. If we're told that Tweety is a bird, and that any bird should be able to fly, then it seems to us quite evident that Tweety should be able to fly. This ability to draw conclusions seems (to adults) so separate from the things we learn that it seems inherent in having a mind. Yet over the past half century, research in child psychology has taught us to distrust such beliefs. Very young children do not find adult logic to be so self-evident. On the contrary, the experiments of Jean Piaget and others have shown that our reasoning abilities evolve through various stages. Perhaps it is because we forget how hard these were to learn that they now appear so obvious. Why do we have such an amnesia about learning to reason and to remember? Perhaps because those very processes are involved in how we remember in later life. Then, naturally, it would be hard to remember what it was like to be without reason - or what it was like to learn such things. Whether we learn them or are born with them, our reasoning processes somehow become embodied in the structures of our brains. We all know how our logic can fail when the brain is deranged by exhaustion, intoxication or injury; in any case, the more complex situations get, the more we're prone to making mistakes. If logic were somehow inherent in Mind, it would be hard to explain how things ever go wrong but this is exactly what one would expect from what happens inside any real machine.

Every system that we build will surprise us with new kinds of flaws until those machines become clever enough to conceal their faults from us.

I think Lenat is headed in the right direction, but someone needs to include a knowledge base about learning.

Once the computers got control, we might never get it back. We would survive at their sufferance. If we're lucky, they might decide to keep us as pets.

The "laws of thought" depend not only on the property of brain cells, but also on how they are connected. And these connections are established not by the basic, "general" laws of physics... To be sure, "general" laws apply to everything. But, for that very reason, they can rarely explain anything in particular... Each higher level of description must add to our knowledge about lower levels.

We usually say that one must first understand simpler things. But what if feelings and viewpoints are the simpler things?

A computer is like a violin. You can imagine a novice trying ?rst a phonograph and then a violin. The latter, he says, sounds terrible. That is the argument we have heard from our humanists and most of our computer scientists. Computer programs are good, they say, for particular purposes, but they aren?t ?exible. Neither is a violin, or a typewriter, until you learn how to use it.

For avoiding nonsense in general, we might accumulate millions of censors. For all we know, this "negative meta-knowledge" -- about patterns of thought and inference that have been found defective or harmful -- may be a large portion of all we know.

If explaining minds seems harder than explaining songs, we should remember that sometimes enlarging problems makes them simpler! The theory of the roots of equations seemed hard for centuries within its little world of real numbers, but it suddenly seemed simple once Gauss exposed the larger world of so-called complex numbers. Similarly, music should make more sense once seen through listeners' minds.

Once when I was standing at the base, they started rotating the set and a big, heavy wrench fell down from the 12 o'clock position of the set, and got buried in the ground a few feet from me. I could have been killed!

The basic idea in case-based, or CBR, is that the program has stored problems and solutions. Then, when a new problem comes up, the program tries to find a similar problem in its database by finding analogous aspects between the problems.

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American Cognitive Scientist in the field of Artificial Intelligence, Co-Founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI Laboratory, Author