The Society of Mind: A Free Online Course from Marvin Minsky, Pioneer of Artificial Intelligence

This past week­end, Mar­vin Minksy, one of the found­ing fathers of com­put­er sci­ence, passed away at the age of 88. Edu­cat­ed at Har­vard and Prince­ton, The MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Review recalls, “Min­sky believed that the human mind was fun­da­men­tal­ly no dif­fer­ent than a com­put­er, and he chose to focus on engi­neer­ing intel­li­gent machines, first at Lin­coln Lab, and then lat­er as a pro­fes­sor at MIT, where he cofound­ed the Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Lab in 1959 with anoth­er pio­neer of the field, John McCarthy.” Dur­ing the 1980s, Min­sky pub­lished The Soci­ety of Mind, a sem­i­nal work which posit­ed that there’s no essen­tial dif­fer­ence between humans and machines, because humans are “actu­al­ly machines of a kind whose brains are made up of many semi­au­tonomous but unin­tel­li­gent ‘agents’.” (Quote comes from this NYTimes obit, not Min­sky direct­ly).

Above, you can watch The Soci­ety of Mind taught as a free online course. Pre­sent­ed at MIT in 2011, Min­sky takes you through his the­o­ries about how the human mind works, empha­siz­ing “aspects of think­ing that are so poor­ly under­stood that they are still con­sid­ered to be more philo­soph­i­cal than sci­en­tif­ic.” The goal, how­ev­er, is to “replace ill-defined folk the­o­ries of ‘con­scious­ness’, ‘self’ and ’emo­tion’ with more con­crete com­pu­ta­tion­al con­cepts.” Lec­tures in the course include ones intrigu­ing­ly called “Falling in Love,” “From Pan­ic to Suf­fer­ing,” and “Com­mon Sense.” In addi­tion to The Soci­ety of Mind, the course also cen­ters around anoth­er book by Min­sky, The Emo­tion Machine, which you can read free online here.

Min­sky’s course will be added to our col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties. His book, The Emo­tion Machine, can be found in our oth­er col­lec­tion: 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices.

via Boing Boing/O’Reil­ly Radar

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Online Com­put­er Sci­ence Cours­es

The Feyn­man Lec­tures on Physics, The Most Pop­u­lar Physics Book Ever Writ­ten, Now Com­plete­ly Online

Harvard’s Free Com­put­er Sci­ence Course Teach­es You to Code in 12 Weeks

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