Being a pioneer of artificial intelligence and creating the first programming language for kids are no small feats. But it was his dedication to using technology to change the way we educate children that made Seymour Papert, who died Sunday at the age of 88, a true visionary.
“It’s not like somebody who invented C++ or some other programming language,” said Michael Tempel, president of the Logo Foundation and a colleague of Papert’s for 35 years. “The language is just one aspect of the whole approach to teaching and learning, and that’s really the main thing.”
Born in Pretoria, South Africa on February 29, 1928, Papert focused his academic pursuits on philosophy and math, earning his PhD at the University of Witwatersrand before studying at Cambridge (where he earned another PhD in 1958). During his second doctoral program, he did work at the University of Paris, where he met Jean Piaget—the father of childhood development theory. Piaget inspired Papert to combine his passion for both education and technology to find new ways to engage children.
In the 1960s, Papert joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he and Marvin Minsky co-founded the Artificial Intelligence lab and laid the foundation for some of the earliest work in AI. Minsky and Papert co-wrote the book Perceptrons, considered a seminal examination of artificial neural networks—and their limitations.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht