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Donald Hall and John Hollander at Harvard


My opinion of Noam Chomsky's theories
Marvin Minsky Scientist
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I sort of liked the mathematical part of it, which was largely due to a mathematician named Schützenberger… Marco Polo Schützenberger. But for some reason there had never been any mathematics in linguistics before, and somehow this became immensely popular, and for maybe 30 or 40 years support for semantics and understanding of how language works virtually vanished from the planet earth because of Chomsky’s influence, and most... most universities changed their linguistics departments to grammar departments and theories of formal syntax, and so forth. It’s a phenomenon I hope never to see again, of a... of an important field being replaced by an unimportant one... a wonderful, marvelous phenomenon. In fact Chomsky himself eventually got out of it and went into politics.

Marvin Minsky (1927-2016) was one of the pioneers of the field of Artificial Intelligence, founding the MIT AI lab in 1970. He also made many contributions to the fields of mathematics, cognitive psychology, robotics, optics and computational linguistics. Since the 1950s, he had been attempting to define and explain human cognition, the ideas of which can be found in his two books, The Emotion Machine and The Society of Mind. His many inventions include the first confocal scanning microscope, the first neural network simulator (SNARC) and the first LOGO 'turtle'.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Marcel-Paul Schützenberger, Noam Chomsky

Duration: 1 minute, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: 29-31 Jan 2011

Date story went live: 09 May 2011