Marvin Minsky at home; leaving Boston

View 763 Sunday, February 17, 2013

It’s Sunday night. Boskone is over, and I have my passes for getting onto the airplane tomorrow. I plan to get out there fairly early, and wait in the United Red Carpet Club where there will be pleasant people, good coffee, and a newspaper. I am not likely to be on line until tomorrow night when I have got back to Chaos Manor.


I finished my Boskone appearances at 1400 with a panel about Sigma, the SF group that sometimes does consultations for some government departments and industry groups. The audience seemed interested, but it’s hard to talk about programs you can’t discuss in detail. Sigma does not participate in classified studies although I suppose some individual members retain formal clearances (I don’t; I have been a journalist for decades, and I gave up any and all clearances long ago for obvious reasons. That doesn’t mean we are free to talk about the projects we participate in, which makes it difficult to describe what Sigma has done. I managed to come up with a couple of examples and I hope everyone listening was happy.

When that was done I took a taxi to Brookline where I spent a pleasant afternoon with Marvin and Gloria Minsky. We spoke of many things, including the state of Artificial Intelligence research. Things have changed since the days when an MIT student like Marilyn (soon to be Niven) had to become a mathematics major in order to study computer science and artificial intelligence. Many of the objectives of AI research in those days have been realized, and the craft of robotics has greatly advanced, but much of AI is sort of stalemated just now. Marvin thinks it’s because we have come to a plateau and it will take some new long term projects to get a new generation of AI scientists up to speed so they can plunge ahead. Of course computer capabilities increased far faster than we thought they would. And MIT dropped the LISP programming course two years ago. It’s time for some new thoughts about AI from a new generation, but if they’re wise they’ll pay attention to some of the old wizards like Marvin. Like me he thinks a bit slower than he used to, but he’s still a wizard.



Marvin Minsky at home.


Marvin and Gloria



"Hows that space program coming along?"

Just a note that this illustration is getting wide notice without credit going to the artist, Aaron Williams

There are even other people who have been selling T-shirts with his design on it.

Aaron Williams is the author of a number of great comic strips, and I’m a big fan.

Tom Brosz

Just to get that straight.






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