Marvin Minsky’s new book explores commonsense artificial intelligence

By | November 13, 2006

The Emotion Machine book coverMarvin Minsky is a professor at MIT, cofounder of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and one of the most well known artificial intelligence researchers alive today. Minsky is best known for his 1985 book “The Society of Mind.” In his book, Minsky, driven by results from child psychology and artificial intelligence, proposed that intelligence is the result of a large number of simple interacting agents as opposed to a monolithic and complex agent.

Bits and pieces of this theory emerged in papers through the 70s and early 80s. Papert turned his energies to applying these new ideas to transforming education while Minsky continued to work primarily on the theory. In 1985, he published “The Society of Mind,” a book in which 270 interconnected one-page ideas reflect the structure of the theory itself. Each page either proposes one such mechanism to account for some psychological phenomena or addresses a problem introduced by some proposed solution of another page.”

Recently, Minsky published a new book titled “The Emotion Machine.” In his new book, he shows how feelings, goals and emotions motivate and regulate the multiple interacting agents described in “The Society of Mind.” Minsky argues (among other things) that people solve problems by analogy and not logic. That is, we solve problems by searching for similar past experiences and then adapt our previous behavior to the new problem.

The book is available at your local bookstore but Minsky has also made available online an earlier draft. You can find it at his homepage here. This is a good book to add to your Christmas shopping list.