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First Person: Marvin Minsky: The Society of Mind

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs


GAME DEVELOPER:Voyager Company

GAME PUBLISHER:Voyager Company

Copyright 1995, Voyager Company

First Person: Marvin Minsky – The Society of Mind is a great CD-ROM from Voyager that includes the full text of Marvin Minsky’s groundbreaking book The Society of Mind. For anyone who’s not familiar with the scientist, Minsky is commonly considered the “father of artificial intelligence,” and throughout his long career as a faculty member of MIT, has made numerous contributions to the fields of AI, cognitive psychology, mathematics, robotics, and related fields. Minsky’s most famous work The Society of Mind shares with lay audiences key ideas scientists have developed about how minds – both natural and artificial – might work. Minsky’s core thesis is that human minds can be thought of as collections of vast numbers of semi-autonomous, intricately connected agents that are themselves mindless. Our brains are essentially complex machines, in other words. The book does an admirable job of explaining how collections of mindless mechanisms could account for phenomena as diverse as memory, learning, jokes, fashions, self-images, intentions, classification, apprehension of analogies and metaphors, the difference between seeing and remembering, motivation, fantasizing, stages of development, common sense versus logical reasoning, the formation of identity in spite of our underlying multiplicity, and the ?necessary illusion? of free will.

As Voyager has done with previous books-to-CD-ROM titles, The Society of Mind is chock full of content. The full text of Minsky’s book is here, and it is fully searchable, indexed, cross-referenced, and hyper-linked to supplementary materials. Animations and video clips, often of Minsky himself, help clarify concepts that are hard to visualize in prose. As a bonus, the CD-ROM contains a neat “inside Minsky’s living room” section that gives an intimate look at various objects Minsky’s office and living room, narrated by Minsky himself.

The Society of Mind is a must-have title for anyone with even the slightest interest in artificial intelligence. Students of computer science and cognitive psychology will find much to explore and digest here, and laymen like myself will be drawn toward a plausible answer to an age-old question: how does our mind work? Two thumbs up, way up.

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