Marvin Minsky, a pioneer of artificial intelligence, died on Sunday, January 24, in Boston, according to The New York Times. He was 88. Minsky contributed two important articles to Scientific American: Artificial Intelligence, on his theories of multiple minds, and Will Robots Inherit The Earth?, on the future of AI. I profiled Minsky for Scientific American in 1993, after spending an afternoon with him at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and again in The End of Science. Below is an edited version of the latter profile. -–John Horgan
Before I visited Marvin Minsky at MIT, colleagues warned me that he might be defensive, even hostile. If I did not want the interview cut short, I should not ask him too bluntly about the falling fortunes of artificial intelligence or of his own particular theories of the mind. A former associate pleaded with me not to take advantage of Minsky's penchant for outrageous utterances. "Ask him if he means it, and if he doesn't say it three times you shouldn't use it."