From Artificial Intelligence to Artificial Consciousness


The work of MMP spans four intellectual generations, revisiting fundamental assumptions about the nature of the brain, cognition, computing, and intelligence. The project is based on the belief that, by bringing together current advances in each of these areas with insights from their roots, it will be possible to fulfill the early vision that lies at their intersection.

MMP seeks to develop technologies for reading, writing (and virtually simulating) millions of neurons concurrently, to enable interactive exploration of both individual circuits and overall brain function.

Mind (models for thought), Memory (accumulating and using experience), Body (scalable substrates to embody intelligence), and Brain/Intent (looking for advanced applications of these technologies, such as “non-chemical based” solutions for psychiatric treatments and brain prostheses).

Research Initiatives include:

From Machine Learning to Learning Machines


The high-level goal of the Mind Machine project is to reconcile natural intelligence with machine intelligence, and in doing so develop and engineer a class of intelligent machines.

Based in the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), MMP brings together researchers in integrated teams from CBA, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Research Laboratory of Electronics, and the Media Lab, as well as a network of institutional partners.

The work is divided into teams under the broad categories of Mind, Body, Memory, and Brain/Intent.  Below is a Reconfigurable Asynchronous Logic Automata (RALA) architecture (see papers).


  • Mind: Develop a software model capable of understanding human social contexts- the signposts that establish these contexts, and the behaviors and conventions associated with them.Research areas: hierarchical and reflective common sense
    Lead researchers: Marvin Minsky, Patrick Winston
  • Body: Explore candidate physical systems as substrate for embodied intelligence
    Research areas: reconfigurable asynchronous logic automata, propagator-oriented programmingLead researchers: Neil Gershenfeld, Ben Recht, Gerry Sussman
  • Memory: Further the study of data storage and knowledge representation in the brain; generalize the concept of memory for applicability outside embodied local actor contextResearch areas: common sense
    Lead researcher: Henry Lieberman
  • Brain and Intent: Study the embodiment of intent in neural systems. It incorporates wet laboratory and clinical components, as well as a mathematical modeling and representation components. Develop functional brain and neuron interfacing abilities. Use intent-based models to facilitate representation and exchange of information.Research areas: wet computer, brain language, brain interfaces
    Lead researchers: Newton Howard, Sebastian Seung, Ed Boyden
  • Prospective applications include natural language understanding, unsupervised data inference, and assistance with mental illness and aging.

MMP is directed by Newton Howard. It was launched by an initial seven year, multi-million dollar gift, with support chaired by Richard Wirt, former Intel executive and Intel Senior Fellow.

From Brain Modeling to Brain Augmentation



Dr. Newton Howard, HDR La Sorbonne, Mathematics
MIT Principal Investigator and the Director of the Mind Machine Project

Dr. Marvin Minsky
Distinguished Scientist/Professor Emeritus, MIT

Dr. Patrick Winston
Ford Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, MIT

Dr. Gerry Sussman
Panasonic Professor of Electrical Engineering, MIT

Prof. Neil Gershenfeld
Director of the Center for Bits and Atoms

Dr. Henry Lieberman
Research Scientist, MIT Media Lab

H. Sebastian Seung
Professor of Computational Neuroscience, MIT; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Dr. Ed Boyden
Benesse Career Development Professor, MIT Media Lab


Dr. Mathieu Guidère
Professor, University of Geneva

Dr. Ben Recht
Assistant Professor, Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin

Dr. Richard Wirt
Intel Senior Fellow

Sergey Kanareykin
Researcher, University of Paris 1 / Partner, Oxantium Group

Guy Fedorkow
Consultant, Mind Machine Project

Bent Schmidt-Nielsen
Consultant, Mind Machine Project

Mark M. Atallah
Research Assistant, Make a Mind Co.


Scott Greenwald
Research Assistant, Center for Bits and Atoms, MIT

Forrest Green
Research Assistant, Center for Bits and Atoms, MIT

Dr. Catherine Havasi
Research Associate, Common Sense Computing Initiative and Software Agents Group, MIT

David Dalrymple
Research Assistant, Mind Machine Project, MIT

Peter Schmidt-Nielsen

Dr. Alexey Radul
Research Associate, Mathematics and Computation Group, MIT CSAIL

Dustin Smith
Research Assistant, MIT Media Lab

Rob Speer
Research Assistant, Software Agents Group, MIT Media Lab

Bo Morgan
Research Assistant and PhD Candidate, MIT Media Lab

Designing neurologically-inspired computing systems


Research Initiatives


  • IsisWorld is a simulation environment in development for testing innovations in intelligence research in models of real-world situations. It provides a 3D world with symbolic perceptions as input instead of as video frames, allowing for exploration of the cognitive issues without emulating low-level sensory details.
  • Scheme-Propagators is a prototype propagation-oriented programming language. It supports programming of complex, concurrent and distributed systems composed of autonomous disparate communicating peers, as might be found in a mind.
  • ConceptNet and Divisi (by OMCS) are resources and inference tools for commonsense knowledge.
  • Funk2 (by RCT) is a novel meta-circular reflective programming language designed for implementing the Emotion Machine’s Model-6 cognitive architecture.

Other Publications


Contact the Mind Machine Project

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MIT Center for Bits and Atoms
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MIT/MMP - Advancing the state of the art in artificial intelligence


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