Robert Lawrence Kuhn is the creator, writer and host of “Closer to Truth,” a public television series and online resource that features the world’s leading thinkers exploring humanity’s deepest questions (Peter Getzels, producer/director). Kuhn contributed this article to Live Science’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Artificial intelligence (AI) pervades people’s lives today, from smartphones and search engines to transportation systems and medical diagnoses. One of AI’s legendary pioneers, Marvin Minsky, co-founder of what is now the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and considered to be the “father of AI,” died on Jan. 24, 2016, at age 88.
Polymathic in capacity, protean in vision, Minksy spent his life figuring out how to make machines that are intelligent, “whatever that means,” as he liked to say. He developed AI’s two principle schools of thought: the “symbolic school” of abstract manipulations and the “connectionist school” of unstructured self-organization. He built the first learning machine based on neural networks, simulating how the brain works through practice and trial and error, a progenitor of today’s “deep learning.”