Marvin Minsky

03 Jan 2021 12:19 - 11 Apr 2021 01:45

    • A major influence and my advisor at MIT. I contributed an introduction to Inventive Minds, a collection of his essays on education.
    • Father of artificial intelligence, Marvin Minsky died on Sunday aged 88 - Market Business News
    • This clip really echoed with Nietzsche's Notes on Daybreak:
      • In general I think if you put emphasis on believing a set of rules that comes from someone you view as an authority figure then there are terrible dangers...most of the cultures exist because they've taught their people to reject new ideas. It's not human nature, it's culture nature. I regard cultures as huge parasites.
      • Also at 6:10, a bit more on culturally-induced cognitive blindness
      • At 7:40, in the midst of a discussion on how emotions like anger are not separate from rationality but are more like modes of thought:
      • There really isn't anything called rational, everything depends on what goals you have and how you got them...
    • This essay Minsky True Names Afterword seemed particularly rich in nuggets relevant to AMMDI, I extracted a few below.
      • On intentional programming.
        • I too am convinced that the days of programming as we know it are numbered, and that eventually we will construct large computer systems not by anything resembling today's meticulous but conceptually impoverished procedural specifications. Instead, we'll express our intentions about what should be done in terms of gestures and examples that will be better designed for expressing our wishes and convictions. Then these expressions will be submitted to immense, intelligent, intention-understanding programs that then will themselves construct the actual, new programs
        • In order for that to happen, though, we will have to invent and learn to use new technologies for "expressing intentions". To do this, we will have to break away from our old, though still evolving, programming languages, which are useful only for describing processes. But this brings with it some serious risks!.
      • On AI Risk
        • The first risk is that it is always dangerous to try to relieve ourselves of the responsibility of understanding exactly how our wishes will be realized. Whenever we leave the choice of means to any servants we may choose then the greater the range of possible methods we leave to those servants, the more we expose ourselves to accidents and incidents.
        • The ultimate risk comes when our greedy, lazy, master-minds attempt to take that final step––of designing goal-achieving programs that are programmed to make themselves grow increasingly powerful, by self-evolving methods that augment and enhance their own capabilities. ...
      • Marvin goes Heideggarian
        • Consider how one can scarcely but see a hammer except as something to hammer with
      • On functional representation
        • An icon's job is not to represent the truth about how an object (or program) works. An icon's purpose is, instead, to represent how that thing can be used! And since the idea of a use is in the user's mind––and not inside the thing itself––the form and figure of the icon must be suited to the symbols that have accumulated in the user’s own development
      • The government of the Society of Mind
        • Now it is easy enough to say that the mind is a society, but that idea by itself is useless unless we can say more about how it is organized. If all those specialized parts were equally competitive, there would be only anarchy, and the more we learned, the less we'd be able to do. So there must be some kind of administration, perhaps organized roughly in hierarchies, like the divisions and subdivisions of an industry or of a human political society.

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from Introduction to Inventive Minds
from Inventive Minds
from nihilism
  • Modern nihilism is largely a side-product of the success of the Enlightenment. All that rationalism and materialism left a god-shaped hole in the human mind. Nietzsche was the most accurate diagnostician of this ailment, but pretty much everybody is aware of it. I come from a background of fairly radical materialism – my late advisor Marvin Minsky delighted in calling humans "meat machines". I think this was mostly to deliberately needle humanists, who were incapable of appreciating that machines can be wonderfully intricate embodiments of intelligence. He was not a nihilist, but the materialist concept of mind that he advocated seemed that way from the outside.
from Society of Mind
from Play as a Cognitive Primitive
  • Is a form of quotation a cognitive primitive? In a sense it must be, because any kind of mental representation has to recall a past state of affairs but not entirely. (Note: this is almost exactly Marvin Minsky's K-lines).
from Infrastructure of intention
  • How do humans and animals manage their various divergent intentions? (Freud, Tinbergen, Marvin Minsky)
from Agency at the Media Lab
  • This was all lots of fun, and the systems were successful as academic projects go. But it wasn't leading me to the Grand Insights I thought I should be having. The implicit vision behind these efforts was something that could scale up to something more like Marvin Minsky's Society of Mindd, which was a mechanical model not just of animal behavior but of human thought. I don't think that ever happened, and while I might blame my own inadequacies it might be also be that Minsky's theories were not very language-like. A good language like Lisp is built around basically a single idea, or maybe two. Minsky's theory was a suite of many dozens of ideas, each of which was at least in theory mechanizable, but they didn't necessary slot together cleanly as concepts do in a pristine language design.