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Handwriting recognition machines at the MIT labs


The contribution of email to space ideas
Marvin Minsky Scientist
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You know, I think that one could attribute this particular... the space thing to email because all of the calculations and discussions of this thing went back and forth, because if I passed a terminal and I had some idea I could send an email to Lowell Wood… I forget the other couple of guys who were involved. So you know, if you just got an idea you could type it over to those people and… so it might be that the medium was more of the message than the... than anything else. I’ve never been to Livermore, but it’s just around the corner when you have this keyboard.

Maybe that’s the answer; you have a friend and you know they’re interested in something and in the old days you would have to write a letter and put a stamp on it or something and it’s just too much trouble so you’d do something else. But... but now if you want to communicate with someone you just take out your iPhone and do it. So I’ve had some friends that I’ve never met.

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: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lowell Wood

Duration: 1 minute, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: 29-31 Jan 2011

Date story went live: 12 May 2011