January 25--Marvin Minsky, an MIT computer science professor who laid the foundation for artificial intelligence, dies in Boston at the age of 88.
JANUARY 25--Marvin Minsky, an MIT computer science professor who laid the foundation for artificial intelligence, dies in Boston at the age of 88. He was the first to demonstrate that computers could engage in common-sense reasoning, setting the stage for a generation of research to follow. In 1959, with colleague John McCarthy (coiner of the term "artificial intelligence"), Minsky founded MIT's Artificial Intelligence Project, which later became the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Although the lab's charter was focused on artificial intelligence, it--and Minsky's work--had far-ranging effects on the field of computer science. It championed the idea that information should be shared freely and participated in the original ARPA-net. Minsky's approach to artificial intelligence was built on the idea that there was no fundamental difference between humans and machines; in his book The Society of the Mind, he defined intelligence as the product of "the managed interaction of a diverse variety of resourceful agents." Within this framework, human brains were machines made up of collections of "resourceful agents," which were deployed according to the task at hand. Minsky was awarded the 1969 Turing Award, among numerous other prizes.