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Setting up the AI lab with John McCarthy


How things got done at the AI lab
Marvin Minsky Scientist
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Whenever something needed to be done or I thought it did I would mention it and then it would just happen. Whereas every now and then I run into some former student and they say: 'Oh, I remember that and John McCarthy had to do something to get that to happen', or Russell Noftsker or Tom Knight or someone else. So I had this illusion of everything happening very spontaneously and there were actually some serious administrative-oriented people actually filling out forms and persuading other people to get things done but it all seemed invisible to me.

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: MIT, John McCarthy, Russell Noftsker, Tom Knight

Duration: 58 seconds

Date story recorded: 29-31 Jan 2011

Date story went live: 09 May 2011