Artificial Intelligence Pioneer Seymour Papert In Coma In Hanoi

Papert, a key figure in the One Laptop Per Child program, was in Hanoi to deliver the keynote address at an academic meeting. He was injured when he was struck by a motorbike.

Seymour Papert, MIT professor and computer renaissance man, was reported in a coma in Vietnam Friday after being struck by a motorbike earlier in the week.

Papert, 78, a pioneer in artificial intelligence decades ago and currently in a key position at the One Laptop Per Child program, was in Hanoi to deliver the keynote address at a meeting of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction.

He also was studying Hanoi's gridlocked traffic patterns, according to a report in the Boston Globe. "There's still a very high probability of death," Northwestern Professor Uri Wilensky told the newspaper. "But we're more hopeful each day, because each day he's getting better."

Wilensky was with Papert when the crash took place. Also in Hanoi was Papert's close friend Nicholas Negroponte, who arrived in Hanoi Wednesday, the day after the accident.

A native of South Africa, Papert aided in the development of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab and, later, was a founding member of MIT's Media Lab. Papert also is known for his work in encouraging the use of technology for learning in general and for promoting the use of computers by children in particular.

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