TITLE: Marvin Minsky and the Irony of AlphaGo
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: January 29, 2016 3:43 PM
Marvin Minsky, one of the founders of AI,
died this week.
Semantic Information Processing
made a big impression on me when I read it in grad school,
and his paper
Why Programming is a Good Medium for Expressing
Poorly Understood and Sloppily-Formulated Ideas
remains one of my favorite classic AI essays. The list
of his students contains many of the great names from
decades of computer science; several of them -- Daniel
Bobrow, Bertram Raphael, Eugene Charniak, Patrick Henry
Winston, Gerald Jay Sussman, Benjamin Kuipers, and Luc
Steels -- influenced my work. Winston wrote one of my
favorite AI textbooks ever, one that captured the spirit
of Minsky's interest in cognitive AI.
It seems fitting that Minsky left us the same week that
Google published the paper
Mastering the Game of Go with Deep Neural Networks
and Tree Search,
which describes the work that led to AlphaGo, a program
strong enough to beat an expert human Go player.
This brief article
describes the accomplishment and program at a higher level.)
One of the key techniques at the heart of AlphaGo is neural
networks, an area Minsky pioneered in his mid-1950s doctoral
dissertation and continued to work in throughout his career.
In 1969, he and Seymour Papert published a book,
which showed the limitations of a very simple kind of neural
network. Stories about the book's claims were quickly
exaggerated as they spread to people who had never read the
book, and the resulting pessimism stifled neural network
research for more than a decade. It is a great irony that,
in the week he died, one of the most startling applications
of neural networks to AI was announced.
Researchers like Minsky amazed me when I was young, and I am
more amazed by them and their lifelong accomplishments as I
grow older. If you'd like to learn more, check out Stephen
to Minsky. It gives you a peek into the wide-ranging mind
that made Minsky such a force in AI for so long.
a portion of my bookshelf|
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