February 5, 2007
Old Man Minsky
[Your new book] “The Emotion Machine” reads like a book about understanding the human mind, but isn’t your real intent to fabricate it?
The book is actually a plan for how to build a machine. I’d like to be able to hire a team of programmers to create the Emotion Machine architecture that’s described in the book — a machine that can switch between all the different kinds of thinking I discuss. Nobody’s ever built a system that either has or acquires knowledge about thinking itself, so that it can get better at problem solving over time. If I could get five good programmers, I think I could build it in three to five years.
From a little later on:
Has science fiction influenced your work?
It’s about the only thing I read. General fiction is pretty much about ways that people get into problems and screw their lives up. Science fiction is about everything else.
Also, Minsky says wistfully of the old Bell Labs: “I worked there one summer, and they said they wouldn’t work on anything that would take less than 40 years to execute.”