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Remembering Minsky and an AI Assignment

Remembering Minsky and an AI Assignment

Believe it or not at one time, I had an email discussion with Marvin Minsky on artificial intelligence.

As an undergrad at the University of Tampa, in the early aughts I was doing a project in English, no less about artificial intelligence. I’m not sure what’s more amusing to me now looking back at this email exchange – the audacity to think that he would reply, or the audacity that I should even sent it in the first place.

But this Turing Award winner, MIT professor, and contributor to what we know about AI in good faith answered this silly undergraduate. I wish I remembered the exact exchange or even some of it, but that personal hotmail account is lost to the sands of digital time, sadly.

But I was curious enough to ask.

I had not thought about this in years. But recently AI has made some very interesting leaps. Or maybe not leaps, but slow crescendo that has gotten to the tenor that I'm now thinking about AI again.

How is AI going to shape humanity in the coming weeks, months, and years?

Quick answer, nobody really knows. But there have been several leaps where AI is narrowly beating the best humans. Namely gaming, in the video game Dota2, the board games Go, and Chess. And now very recently it's able to assist us in computer programming, copywriting, and fascinatingly Art creation.

I mean, wow. If you'd asked me five years ago, heck if you asked an expert five years ago if AI was going to beat the best humans in these narrow tasks, I certainly would have, and I bet experts would have said, "Nope."

Even now as I think back to that English assignment of writing about a technology subject that's going to affect humans (I obviously chose AI at the time), the AI of today could have helped me write that paper and presentation about AI! It could have let me add beautiful pictures that I could not have created on my own to the presentation. That astonishes me even now. I mean OMG, AI! The things you'll do, the places you'll go, I'm curious to dive deeper.

I'm hoping this email finds you well and curious about AI. I sent one to Minsky years ago curious about AI. Now I'm hoping you'll let me email you, again curious about AI.

Let's explore.