MLTalks—Inventive Minds: Marvin Minsky on Education

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MIT Media Lab

May 31, 2019
1:00pm — 2:00pm

Xiao Xiao and Cynthia Solomon in conversation with Hal Abelson

All talks at the Media Lab, unless otherwise noted, are free and open to the public. No registration is required.

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Inventive Minds: Marvin Minsky on Education is a collection of six essays by artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky on how education can foster inventiveness, paired with commentary by Marvin's former colleagues and students. Co-edited by Cynthia Solomon, who worked with Marvin at the MIT AI Lab, and Media Lab alum Xiao Xiao, who also illustrated the book.

In this talk, hosted by Hal Abelson (a longtime colleague of Minsky's and a contributor to the book), Xiao and Cynthia  will share their experiences of editing the book and working with so many of the people who share in Marvin's legacy. They'll offer their insights on Marvin's ideas about mentorship, the potential of technology in schools, and the shortcomings of conventional education. 


Xiao Xiao is a multimedia artist and music technology researcher. As multimedia artist, Xiao has presented at venues such as TEDxBoston and the Aspen Ideas Festival. Recent interactive artworks are on permanent exhibit at the Historic New Orleans Collection. As researcher, Xiao has published at academic conferences around the world, including CHI, TEI, SIGGRAPH, and NIME. Xiao received a BS in computer science from MIT and a PhD from the MIT Media Lab, where she is a research affiliate. In her spare time, Xiao practices yoga, paints, and teaches herself how to play the theremin. 

Cynthia Solomon created Logo, the first programming language for children, along with Dan Bobrow, Wally Feurzeig, and Seymour Papert at Bolt, Beranek and Newman in 1966. She and Papert continued Logo research at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, where the Logo environment was extended to music, turtle graphics, and robotics with the collaboration of Marvin Minsky and other Lab members. Her seminal book Computer Environments for Children was the first comprehensive reflection on computers in education, and her paper with Seymour Papert, “Twenty Things to do with a Computer,” is a classic in the field. She received an MA in Computer Science from Boston University (1976) and an EdD from Harvard University (1985). She serves on the program committee of Constructing Modern Knowledge and in 2016 was awarded both the National Center for Women & Information Technology Pioneer Award and the Constructionism Lifetime Achievement Award. She also received the 2019 FabLearn Lifetime Achievement Award.

Harold (Hal) Abelson is the Class of 1922 Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, a fellow of the IEEE, and is a founding director of both Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation. Abelson holds an AB degree from Princeton University and a PhD degree in mathematics from MIT. In 1992, Abelson was designated as one of MIT's six inaugural MacVicar Faculty Fellows, in recognition of his significant and sustained contributions to teaching and undergraduate education. Abelson was recipient in 1992 of the Bose Award (MIT's School of Engineering teaching award). Abelson is also the winner of the 1995 Taylor L. Booth Education Award given by IEEE Computer Society, cited for his continued contributions to the pedagogy and teaching of introductory computer science.

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