Minsky even served as an advisor for 2001: A Space Odyssey

AI pioneer Marvin Minsky dead at 88

One of the first pioneers of artificial intelligence (AI) Marvin Minsky, who helped computers to understand spoken commands and beat grandmasters at chess, has died at the age of 88.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said that he died on Sunday after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage.

Minsky's greatest contribution to computers and AI was the notion that neither human nor machine intelligence is a single process.

He instead postured that intelligence arises from the interaction of numerous processes in a "society of mind", a phrase Minsky used for the title of his 1985 book.

"Marvin basically figured out that thinking isn't a thing, but an embarrassing mess of dumb things that work together, as in a society," said Danny Hillis, a former Minsky student.

His insight led to the development of smart machines packed with individual modules that give them specific capabilities, such as computers that play grandmaster-level chess, robots that build cars, programs that analyse DNA and software that creates life-like dinosaurs, explosions and extra-terrestrial worlds for movies.

AI is essential to many computer functions that are used on a daily basis, even though many of us may not realise it. It is a core component in everything from web searches to video games and tasks such as filtering spam email, focusing cameras, translating documents and giving voice commands to smartphones.

Minsky also built the first computer capable of learning through connections that mimic human neurons.

He also served as a scientific advisor to Stanley Kubrick for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey with regard to the design of HAL 9000, a computer with AI that eventually turns on the characters in the film. Minsky called 2001 "the most awesome film I'd ever seen".

Minsky was born in New York City in 1927 and was drawn to science and engineering as a child, enthralled by the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.

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