Marvin Minsky - Virtual Molecular Reality

  • Marvin Minsky - Virtual Molecular Reality

    Lately I’ve been doing a ton of #research into Marvin Minsky and his prodigy network of super hackers that he was grooming out of #MIT for the last 50 or so years.

    Marvin Minsky has a long history with the Hacker culture which is documented in this article from Wired Magazine which was published just after his passing.


    “Only months into my research did I realize that all of hacker culture started at MIT, first at its Tech Model Railroad Club and later at Minsky’s Artificial Intelligence lab in the 1960s. Minsky, though quite adept as a computer scientist, was not a hacker himself. But he was their ringleader, and a key figure in the rise of hackers.”

    “By the early 1960’s Minsky was beginning to organize what would become the world’s first laboratory in artificial intelligence; and he knew that to do what he wanted, he would need programming geniuses as his foot soldiers—so he encouraged hackerism any way he could.”

    A special note here is Wired Magazine quotes that Marvin Minsky was the ringleader, and he maintained his position at MIT until his passing in 2016.

    Beyond Marvin Minsky being a promoter of early hacker culture he has a website which #MIT still keeps online that anyone can visit for a complete reference of his life and works that he shared publicly.

    Marvin Minsky Homepage

    Marvin Minsky has made many contributions to AI, cognitive psychology, mathematics, computational linguistics, robotics, and optics. In recent years he has worked chiefly on imparting to machines the human capacity for commonsense reasoning. His conception of human intellectual structure and function is presented in two books: The Emotion Machine and The Society of Mind (which is also the title of the course he teaches at MIT).

    Other References

    #EDGE -

    MARVIN MINSKY (1927-2016) was a mathematician and computer scientist; Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and co-founder of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He is the author of eight books, including The Society of Mind and The Emotion Machine.

    The Reality of Things

    As I was researching on Minsky’s #MIT site I came across this paper from 1995 called Virtual Molecular Reality. Where Minsky says:

    “According to my family, I was proficient with construction toys at an early age. Once, I built a structure of Tinkertoy rods that reached to the top of a hotel lobby. The adults tried to figure out how a person so small could build something so big. My problem was to figure out how people so large could think so small.”

    From an early age it shows that Minsky was building and/or thinking about complex structures of formation and how to assemble and articulate that idea into reality. While the population around him stood around in amazement he was constantly asking himself how can I build this into reality.

    This type of thinking is not common in reality. As most I interact with see something another person creates and says… I want to be that or do that.

    But Marvin Minsky took parts and assembled them to build what his imagination saw from a very young age. When he built it he also didn’t just build it small he built it to the sky as far as his imagination, resources, and time would allow him.

    Then when you read into his papers like Virtual Molecular Reality you find and learn super cool things about Quantum Mechanics.

    “Let us explain this seeming paradox. Before quantum mechanics, the dominant idea was that matter was made of particles that interacted through inverse example, as described by Newtonian physics, that has a heavy object in the middle, and several lighter objects surrounding it. Such small systems appear to be rather badly behaved—and in the particular case of the solar system in which we live, no one has been able to show that it is stable. For example, Gerry Sussman (another “student” of mine) and Jack Wisdom at MIT seem to have shown that the orbit of Pluto is chaotic, and, so far as it is known now, Pluto may eventually get thrown out of the solar system. We Earth-people might not consider this a serious loss. However, consider that our largest planet, Jupiter, has enough angular momentum that, given suitable coupling, it could hurl Earth itself into outer space. I do not know if the Jovians would consider this a significant loss.”

    This one was quite awesome for me because he knew that Pluto would eventually be thrown out of the Solar System. Oh that Marvin knew his stuff.

    “Thus, contrary to what our science teachers tell our kids, it was in that old Newtonian World that almost everything would be unstable and indeterminate, whereas it is quantum mechanics that makes possible chemistry, life, and nanotechnology. It is because of quantum states that you can remember what you had for breakfast. This is because the new neural connections made in your brain can persist throughout your day. When something more important occurs, you will remember it as long as you live. Everything that we can depend upon exists because—it needs a name—because of Quantum Certainty.

    Things like understanding this statement can change the way you see all of reality. Knowing that your mind remembers things because of Quantum States that create neural connections in your #BrainKnuckles.

    So everytime you commit something to memory it’s creating new Quantum States and Neural Pathways to connect those experiences and memories. How Cool!!!

    What to do Next

    This part I found to have very valuable information in it.

    “The alternative to assembling parts is to develop a more integrated technology, through which a system is designed, simulated, and then fabricated in a nonmodular fashion. In the early days of “small-scale integration,” computers were made by mounting separate logic modules onto a large, planar “mother board.” The advantage of this was to make it easy to replace failed components. An amusing aspect of this was that by the mid-1970s, the price of small-scale logic chips had dropped down to 15 cents or so, but the sockets to hold them cost 5 times more—and often the connectors between the boards ended up costing more than the components themselves. When we begin to build our first nanomachines, will we begin with small modules to be assembled later, or should we try to do everything at once, by making the whole machine in one piece?”

    1. Alternative to developing parts is develop integrated technology
    2. Design, Simulate, Fabricate
    3. Will we begin with small modules to be assembled later?
    4. Will we make the whole machine in one piece?

    Work in the 80’s

    A reference to the base work that Minsky was doing in nanomachines in the 80s and how the work was already underway.

    "Certainly, during the 1980s, many of those who considered nanotechnology to be a science-fiction pipe dream were wholly and simply unaware of progress already underway in such domains as building artificial catalysts, and improving atomic-force scanning microscopy.


    A conclusion statement from Minsky says a whole lot in a very small space.

    “There are hackers, and there are crackers. There are glorious prospects and there are dreadful prospects. It seems to me that a way must be found to keep things open enough so that we can catch malicious people before they can do anything too bad. Accomplishing that will not be easy. We might have to give up our privacy.”

    And that is a small extraction of Marvin Minsky’s Virtual Molecular Reality. Please take a read for yourself it has tons of information on Quantum stuff, Nanomachines, and a glimpse into the mind and childhood of the man himself Marvin Minsky.