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The impact of the Society of Mind


The Emotion Machine
Marvin Minsky Scientist
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I wrote a second book which tried to reorganize this and some new higher level ideas, into a more systematic description, so that new book, which is called The Emotion Machine, for political reasons, it actually makes fun of emotions. But that book has more or less 10 big chapters, each of which tries to tell a particular story about certain ways of thinking and how they might work and what’s good and bad about them and… and how you decide when to use one.

So that’s more like a conventional book and my impression is that, in the end, it’s much harder to read, because… because the world doesn’t really have a plot and when you try to help people by giving them a plot, you might just envelop the whole thing with…with one really large idea that’s probably wrong and... so instead of learning the 10 important different things that got condensed into that chapter, you’re learning one really not very good theory about trying to explain how they all relate. So it’s a tough one and I think in general it might be that psychology is not the kind of thing that can be explained by good stories, much as people wish it could.

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: The Emotion Machine, Society of Mind

Duration: 1 minute, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: 29-31 Jan 2011

Date story went live: 12 May 2011