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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Marvin Minsky Quotes

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Marvin Minsky
(9 Aug 1927 - 24 Jan 2016)

American cognitive scientist and computer scientist who founded the MIT Artificial Intelligence Project and has also contributed to the fields of cognitive psychology, mathematics, computational linguistics, robotics, and optics.

Science Quotes by Marvin Minsky (9 quotes)

But just as astronomy succeeded astrology, following Kepler's discovery of planetary regularities, the discoveries of these many principles in empirical explorations of intellectual processes in machines should lead to a science, eventually.
[Co-author with South African mathematician, Seymour Papert (1928- )]
— Marvin Minsky
Artificial Intelligence (1973), 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Astrology (41)  |  Astronomy (204)  |  Empiricism (19)  |  Exploration (123)  |  Intellect (192)  |  Johannes Kepler (91)  |  Machine (157)  |  Process (267)  |  Science (2067)

Even today I still get letters from young students here and there who say, Why are you people trying to program intelligence? Why don’t you try to find a way to build a nervous system that will just spontaneously create it? Finally I decided that this was either a bad idea or else it would take thousands or millions of neurons to make it work and I couldn’t afford to try to build a machine like that.
— Marvin Minsky
As quoted in Jeremy Bernstein, 'A.I.', The New Yorker (14 Dec 1981), 57, 70.
Science quotes on:  |  Afford (17)  |  Bad (99)  |  Build (117)  |  Computer Science (10)  |  Create (153)  |  Decide (40)  |  Idea (580)  |  Intelligence (168)  |  Machine (157)  |  Million (111)  |  Nervous (7)  |  Neuron (9)  |  Program (52)  |  System (191)  |  Thousand (152)  |  Work (635)

I became expert at dissecting crayfish. At one point I had a crayfish claw mounted on an apparatus in such a way that I could operate the individual nerves. I could get the several-jointed claw to reach down and pick up a pencil and wave it around. I am not sure that what I was doing had much scientific value, although I did learn which nerve fiber had to be excited to inhibit the effects of another fiber so that the claw would open. And it did get me interested in robotic instrumentation, something that I have now returned to. I am trying to build better micromanipulators for surgery and the like.
— Marvin Minsky
In Jeremy Bernstein, 'A.I.', The New Yorker (14 Dec 1981).
Science quotes on:  |  Apparatus (37)  |  Claw (8)  |  Dissect (2)  |  Effect (166)  |  Excite (15)  |  Expert (50)  |  Fiber (10)  |  Individual (221)  |  Inhibit (4)  |  Instrumentation (3)  |  Interest (237)  |  Learn (288)  |  Manipulate (6)  |  Nerve (70)  |  Open (66)  |  Operate (17)  |  Pencil (17)  |  Pick Up (4)  |  Research (590)  |  Robot (12)  |  Scientific (236)  |  Surgery (43)  |  Value (242)  |  Wave (68)

I bet the human brain is a kludge
— Marvin Minsky
In Gary William Flake, The Computational Beauty of Nature (2000), 383.
Science quotes on:  |  Bet (10)  |  Brain (213)

I think that intelligence does not emerge from a handful of very beautiful principles—like physics. It emerges from perhaps a hundred fundamentally different kinds of mechanisms that have to interact just right. So, even if it took only four years to understand them, it might take four hundred years to unscramble the whole thing.
— Marvin Minsky
As quoted from an interview with author Jeremy Bernstein, in Science Observed: Essays Out of My Mind (1982), 44.
Science quotes on:  |  Beautiful (144)  |  Different (186)  |  Emerge (21)  |  Fundamental (164)  |  Handful (8)  |  Hundred (64)  |  Intelligence (168)  |  Interact (8)  |  Mechanism (52)  |  Physics (348)  |  Principle (292)  |  Understand (340)

In science, one can learn the most by studying what seems to be the least.
— Marvin Minsky
John Mitchinson and John Lloyd, If Ignorance Is Bliss, Why Aren't There More Happy People?: Smart Quotes for Dumb Times (2009), 217.
Science quotes on:  |  Learn (288)  |  Least (74)  |  Science (2067)  |  Seem (143)  |  Study (476)

Logic doesn’t apply to the real world.
— Marvin Minsky
As quoted, without citation, as one of Minsky's “favorite claims”, in D.R. Hofstadter and D.C. Dennett (eds.) The Mind's I (1981), 343. The context by Hofstadter is that the “real world” is “chaotic and messy”.
Science quotes on:  |  Apply (77)  |  Logic (260)  |  Real World (14)

When intelligent machines are constructed, we should not be surprised to find them as confused and as stubborn as men in their convictions about mind-matter, consciousness, free will, and the like.
— Marvin Minsky
Concluding sentence from 'Matter, Mind, and Models', Proceedings of the International Federation of Information Processing Congress (1965), Vol. 1, 49. As quoted in Jeremy Bernstein, 'A.I.', The New Yorker (14 Dec 1981), 57, 70.
Science quotes on:  |  Artificial Intelligence (8)  |  Confusion (42)  |  Consciousness (82)  |  Construct (41)  |  Conviction (71)  |  Free Will (12)  |  Machine (157)  |  Matter (343)  |  Mind (760)  |  Stubborn (5)

You don't understand anything until you learn it more than one way.
— Marvin Minsky
In Rebecca Herold, Managing an Information Security and Privacy Awareness and Training Program (2005), 101.
Science quotes on:  |  Learning (177)  |  Understanding (325)

Quotes by others about Marvin Minsky (1)

His [Marvin Minsky’s] basic interest seemed to be in the workings of the human mind and in making machine models of the mind. Indeed, about that time he and a friend made one of the first electronic machines that could actually teach itself to do something interesting. It monitored electronic “rats” that learned to run mazes. It was being financed by the Navy. On one notable occasion, I remember descending to the basement of Memorial Hall, while Minsky worked on it. It had an illuminated display panel that enabled one to follow the progress of the “rats.” Near the machine was a hamster in a cage. When the machine blinked, the hamster would run around its cage happily. Minsky, with his characteristic elfin grin, remarked that on a previous day the Navy contract officer had been down to see the machine. Noting the man’s interest in the hamster, Minsky had told him laconically, “The next one we build will look like a bird.”
Science quotes on:  |  Bird (120)  |  Display (24)  |  Electronic (12)  |  Human Mind (82)  |  Machine (157)  |  Maze (10)  |  Model (81)  |  Navy (9)  |  Rat (21)

See also:
  • 9 Aug - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Minsky's birth.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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