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Nicholas Negroponte's lab: The Architecture Machine


My mistake when inventing the confocal microscope
Marvin Minsky Scientist
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I wrote a little biography of the confocal microscope. And... the... the output was a radar screen. So, it took about 30... 15 or 20 seconds to paint this picture and I had a rather large screen and the machine had rather low resolution. So, the picture looked very blurry. And many years later I realised, if I had had a tiny screen, then the picture would have looked very sharp. And it was probably... of course, with the large screen you could see everything it had, which wasn’t so much and later I realised that the thing might have caught on if the... if the image had just looked sharper. Of course, it would have had slightly less information the smaller it was, but it would look like it had more. So, such is history. I just didn’t think of... of the presentation as being important. So, everybody admired it, but nobody said, I want one.

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: confocal microscope

Duration: 1 minute, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: 29-31 Jan 2011

Date story went live: 13 May 2011