Remembering Seymour Papert: Revolutionary Socialist and Father of A.I.

The South African Jewish computer scientist and educator Seymour Papert, who died on July 31 at age 88, was a long-time fixture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He pioneered artificial intelligence and co-invented the Logo programming language. Yet his work as a social reformer, rather than with machines per se, was a primordial obsession. The human rights activist Janet Levine’s memoir “Inside Apartheid” describes how during her childhood in the early 1950s, the Papert family lived not far from her Johannesburg home. Their son Seymour, a university student, was “‘in trouble’ with the government for his student political activities. ‘It’s always the Jews,’ my mother muttered darkly. My father said that he did not know why someone as talented as Seymour would throw his life away ‘for the Schwartzes’…


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