Marvin Minsky honored for lifetime achievements in artificial intelligence

The MIT professor emeritus earns the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award for his pioneering work and mentoring role in the field of artificial intelligence.

Ellen Hoffman, Media Lab

Marvin Minsky (Photo: Wikipedia. CC-BY)

Marvin Minsky (Photo: Wikipedia. CC-BY)

MIT Media Lab professor emeritus Marvin Minsky, 86, a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, has won the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the information and communications technologies category.

The BBVA Foundation cited his influential role in defining the field of artificial intelligence, and in mentoring many of the leading minds in today’s artificial intelligence community. The award also recognizes his contributions to the fields of mathematics, cognitive science, robotics, and philosophy.

In learning of the award, which brings a prize of  $540,000, Minsky reconfirmed his conviction that one day we will develop machines that will be as smart as humans. But he added “how long this takes will depend on how many people we have working on the right problems. Right now there is a shortage of both researchers and funding.”

Minsky joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty in 1958, and co-founded the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (now the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) the following year. In 1985, he became a founding member of the Media Lab, where he was named the Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, and where he continues to teach and mentor.

Commenting on the award, Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Media Lab, says, “Marvin’s genius is accompanied by extreme kindness and humor. He listens well, and is oracle-like in his capability to debug an enormously complex situation with a simple, short phrase. Through the 47 years we have known each other, he has taught me to tackle the big problems.” Read more.

Professor Minsky has one course published on OCW: