8 Marvin Minsky Quotes That Reflect What a Visionary He Was

Twenty years ago, when I was first imagining “Closer To Truth,” our public television series on science and philosophy, and fantasizing about who might appear, Marvin Minsky was one of a small handful of world-renowned thinkers on my A+ wish list. Luckily, he said yes — and then yes again. Marvin, who died Sunday at age 88, was visionary, pioneering, substantive, rigorous, tough-minded, iconoclastic, daring and whimsical. I wanted to do what Marvin did: challenge conventional belief, taking our topics seriously but never ourselves.

Here are some quotes illustrating the unique insights Minsky provided during our discussions over the years, followed by links back to the videos.


It’s perfectly possible that we are the production of some very powerful complicated programs running on some big computer somewhere else. … And there’s really no way to distinguish that from what we call reality.

VIDEO: Could Our Universe Be a Fake?

We’re in a possible world. There are other possible worlds — most of them are too chaotic to have anybody in them.

The idea that the world exists is like adding an extra term to an equation that doesn’t belong there.

VIDEO: Does Information Create the Cosmos?


We will be immortal in the sense that, just as when you see that your computer is getting flaky, … you quickly make a backup copy because [you must save] all the knowledge and information in your computer. You buy another computer and upload to it. I think in 100 years, people will be able to do that.

VIDEO: What Are Brains?

Each part of the brain knows a little bit about what’s happening in some other [parts], but there’s no single place that knows everything. … It’s like a big corporation.

VIDEO: How Do Human Brains Think and —> Read More