a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Lowell Wood's novel idea for launching a space station


What I think is wrong with modern research
Marvin Minsky Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

I know that in the 1950s and 1960s, for example, the National Institute of Health had 10 year fellowships; it was mostly five year fellowships, but it had quite a lot of money where, if you had a young person who had made some important accomplishment you could say: Well, we’ll give you a grant for 10 years. That was sort of the maximum I ever saw, but there were lots of five year grants. That’s gone now, I think on the whole, and people have to write a new proposal every year to get their money renewed.

So when I was a young student or a young professor there were places like Bell Labs. I think I mentioned this the other day but, when John McCarthy and I spent one summer at… of 1952 at Bell Labs they told us that… you should work on something that might take 40 years, not work on anything that you could do sooner because theirs was a laboratory designed for looking at those kinds of issues. The telephones themselves were designed to last 40 years – those black shiny things with the dial – and we still have one in the next room, I think. But there’s very little of that today; maybe a few institutions like the Rockefeller Foundation and… private institutions can… can do more of that. Polaroid - Land - tried to set up one with the Polaroid money, but… and it still exists. I’m not sure that it… it had enough funding to look at that kind of time horizon. But… but anyway, there were a lot of them in those early days. And, also the universities had that idea and they were expanding still in the 1960s, now they’re pretty compressed and professors are living longer and there are fewer jobs in universities for… for young researchers so things are a little tighter now.

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: NIH, Bell Laboratories, Rockefeller Foundation, John McCarthy

Duration: 2 minutes, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: 29-31 Jan 2011

Date story went live: 12 May 2011