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Unreliable childhood memories


The amazing videophone from the '60s
Marvin Minsky Scientist
Comments (1) Please sign in or register to add comments
Saturday, 11 June 2011 06:23 AM
Where can I get such a cool mobile app ? Or was it available only fifty years ago?!

When the camera of the future gets a couple of good pictures of your face, then it'll just keep putting them in there instead of bothering with reality, because it will track you around. In fact one of Nicholas Negroponte’s students in the... it must have been in the early 1960s, believe it or not, made something called the Zero Bandwidth Videophone. This was a telephone that... because they didn’t send pictures over telephones yet, although Bell labs had made... made a couple of videophones, but they were very slow and low resolution, so the Zero Bandwidth Videophone was very cute; you took about 50 pictures of a friend of yours and stored them in the telephone, and then these hackers had written a program which could guess what your expression was from the frequencies in your vowels, or something.

[Q] Yea, and put up the appropriate…

Right, so if you were… if you were scowling it had a fairly good chance of putting up your scowling face, or if you were smiling… it was just, you know, just a little better than chance, but it was very funny, and…

[Q] When was that?

It was before… before the ARPANET and things like that, which would let you actually send pictures.

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: 1960s, Nicholas Negroponte

Duration: 1 minute, 42 seconds

Date story recorded: 29-31 Jan 2011

Date story went live: 09 May 2011