Last night, I went to see Marvin Minsky talk in the Media Lab auditorium, specifically about his contributions to Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey, on his new book (The Emotion Machine), and all sorts of other things.
Highlights from the talk (with minimal paraphrasing, hopefully):
- “I’ll give a better talk if the computer breaks, because I have an outline here… and… It’s very hard to follow an outline if you get a new idea.”
- “I like to make lists of disasters.”
- “[Kubrick] tried to get me to play chess but I wouldn’t.”
- [on NASA] “… and now they’re thinking of sending people to Mars which is crazy because they’ll be DEAD.”
- Minsky referring to his laser pointer as “the death ray”
- “[The estimate came from] me thinking of the 20-30 ways to estimate the number [of simple statements a 10- or 15-year-old child knows], and then diddling it until they all came out the same.”
- “But you know that most people have 4 or 5 emotions, like hunger and fear, and uh… whatever.”
- Marvin Minsky loves LISP.
- He uses a Mac and did his presentation by scrolling through many pages of a PDF.
- In response to this question: “If AI becomes as good as you’re describing… how should we treat these new machines ethically? Should we treat them like humans?”
Minsky: “If it was as smart as a person, it would very soon become much smarter, so you could ask it!”
If you’re interested in the movie stuff in particular, here’s a pretty good interview with Marvin Minsky, on working briefly with Kubrick.
In school when they teach you about thinking or learning…and what’s school for? It’s not to learn about Inuit culture or Egyptian culture or algebra or geography or whatever? What you’re really in school for is to learn about thinking and learning.