Isaac Asimov, a scientist turned hard sci-fi writer, once remarked that the only people he ever felt overshadowed him in intelligence were Carl Sagan and Marvin Minsky. While the former is well known for his work popularizing astronomy, planetary science, and astrobiology, the other was a more obscure figure.
Minsky died on Sunday at age 88, suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. His work primarily involved artificial intelligence systems, writing some of the foundational texts of the discipline and building one of the first “artificial brains” in 1951.The Stochastic Neural-Analog Reinforcement Computer, or SNARC, was capable of machine learning at a time when most computers still ran on punchcards. He also created one of the first head-mounted graphical displays, a predecessor to today’s inventions like the Oculus or Gear VR.