Time | In Memoriam 2016 — 11 celebrities remembered by their friends & colleagues

no. 2: Marvin Minsky, PhD remembered by Ray Kurzweil
December 29, 2016

Time — December 28, 2016

This is a summary. Read original article in full here.

To many observers, the deaths of icons like Prince, David Bowie and Muhammad Ali made 2016 a tragic year for the loss of giants of the cultural world. While those deaths shocked the world, every week of every year has sadness of its own.

Since the very first issue of Time, the magazine has marked those deaths — and celebrated their lives — in a column called Milestones.

Throughout the year, the column is a place for people who knew them to remember, celebrate their friends and peers. Here are 11 of 2016’s notable Time Milestones column obituaries.

  1. Glenn Frey — remembered by Linda Ronstadt
  2. Marvin Minsky, PhD — remembered by Ray Kurzweil
  3. Boutros Boutros Ghali — remembered by Kofi Annaz
  4. George Martin — remembered by Brian Wilson
  5. Garry Shandling — remembered by Jeffrey Tambor
  6. Zaha Hadid — remembered by Frank Gehry
  7. Katherine Dunn — remembered by Chip Kidd
  8. Morley Safer — remembered by Lesley Stahl
  9. Gordie Howe — remembered by Wayne Gretzky
  10. Edward Albee — remembered by Tracy Letts
  11. Leonard Cohen — remembered by Judy Collins

no. 2. | Marvin Minsky, PhD remembered by Ray Kurzweil

When I was 14 I wrote Marvin Minsky a letter asking to meet with him. He invited me to visit him at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He spent hours with me as if he had nothing else to do.

When my daughter Amy was about 11, we went out for a meal at the Harvest restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts with my wife Sonya and Marvin’s wife Gloria. Amy and Marvin Minsky built a large structure on the restaurant table using all of the silverware, experimenting with different ways that the utensils could create stable structures.

There was no sense that he was working with an elementary school student. He approached this endeavor with the same combination of seriousness and whimsy that he would bring to his interactions with any colleague. He was the consummate educator — for that was his greatest joy and passion. But he was also many other things: a scientist, an inventor, an engineer, a roboticist, a writer, a philosopher, a polymath, a poet, a musician, and most of all, a student of human nature and thinking.

He was the principal pioneer of both the symbolic and connectionist schools of AI and made profound contributions that have enriched the field of computer science and of all of science. He was one of humanity’s great thinkers. He was also my only mentor. He will be deeply missed.

Ray Kurzweil


video | interview
Ray Kurzweil interviews his mentor, artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky, PhD.

related reading:
KurzweilAI | tribute — Ray Kurzweil remembers his mentor Marvin Minsky, PhD
Sentient | Remembering AI pioneer Marvin Minsky, PhD — 1927-2016


photo | Marvin Minksy, PhD