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Sidestepping the army draft by joining the Navy


Building an intercontinental missile in Buckminster Fuller's backyard
Marvin Minsky Scientist
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And there’s a wonderful thing about the bicycle, which is that if you try to control it then you fall off, but if you take your hands off and just sit there, then…  so learning to ride a bicycle is, maybe, the pinnacle of negative learning: leave the thing alone and you’ll be all right; try to control it and you’ll fall over. Anyway, here’s a war surplus gyroscope, which I believe is from an Atlas missile. There was a wonderful war surplus… military surplus depot in Massachusetts until the… until about 19… late 1980s, when it burned down, maybe mid 1980s; and we could get parts of… one of my friends assembled almost a complete ballist… intercontinental ballistic missile system with the Atlas rocket engine and empty warhead and guidance system, and he assembled it in the backyard of a home that Buckminster Fuller had in this neighborhood. I wonder what happened to it? I’ll ask him.

Marvin Minsky (1927-2016) was one of the pioneers of the field of Artificial Intelligence, founding the MIT AI lab in 1970. He also made many contributions to the fields of mathematics, cognitive psychology, robotics, optics and computational linguistics. Since the 1950s, he had been attempting to define and explain human cognition, the ideas of which can be found in his two books, The Emotion Machine and The Society of Mind. His many inventions include the first confocal scanning microscope, the first neural network simulator (SNARC) and the first LOGO 'turtle'.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Massachusetts, Buckminster Fuller

Duration: 1 minute, 45 seconds

Date story recorded: 29-31 Jan 2011

Date story went live: 09 May 2011