Gary Marcus

American psycholinguist

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Gary Marcus
Gary Marcus at Web Summit 2022.jpeg
Marcus in 2022
Born (1970-02-08) February 8, 1970 (age 53)
Occupation(s)cognitive scientist, author

Gary F. Marcus (born February 8, 1970) is a professor emeritus of psychology and neural science at New York University and an author.[1][2] In 2014 he founded Geometric Intelligence, a machine-learning company.[3][4] His books include Guitar Zero,[5] and Kluge.[6]


Marcus majored in cognitive science at Hampshire College.[7] He continued on to graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he conducted research on negative evidence in language acquisition[8] and regularization (and over-regularization) in children's acquisition of grammatical morphology.[9]

Theories of language and mind

Marcus belongs to the school of thought of psychological nativism. One of his book, The Birth of the Mind, describes the ways genes can influence cognitive development from a nativist perspective, and aims to reconcile nativism with common anti-nativist arguments advanced by other academics. In a review, Mameli and Papineau argue that the theory expounded in the book is "more sophisticated than any version of nativism on the market", but that in attempting to rebut anti-nativist arguments, Marcus "ends up reconfiguring the nativist position out of existence", prompting Mameli and Papineau to conclude that the nativist-anti-nativist framing should "be abandoned".[10]

Research and written work

Marcus's early work focused on why children produce over-regularizations, such as "breaked" and "goed", as a test case for the nature of mental rules.[11]

In his first book, The Algebraic Mind (2001), Marcus challenged the idea that the mind might consist of largely undifferentiated neural networks. He argued that understanding the mind would require integrating connectionism with classical ideas about symbol-manipulation.[12]

In his second book, The Birth of the Mind (2004), Marcus gives a more detailed explanation of the genetic support systems of human thought. He discusses how a small number of genes account for the intricate human brain, common false impressions of genes, and the problems they may cause for the future of genetic engineering.[13]

Marcus's book, Guitar Zero (2012), explores the process of taking up a musical instrument as adult.

Marcus edited The Norton Psychology Reader (2005), including selections by cognitive scientists on modern science of the human mind. With Jeremy Freeman he co-edited The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists (2014).

Representative publications

Books / Monographs

  • Marcus, G.; Davis, E. (2019). Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust. Pantheon/Random House.
  • Marcus, G.; Freeman, J. (ed.) (2014). The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists. Princeton University Press.
  • Marcus, G. F. (2012). Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning. The Penguin Press.
  • Marcus, G. F. (2008). Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind. Houghton Mifflin.
  • Marcus, G. F. (ed.) (2006). The Norton Psychology Reader. W. W. Norton.
  • Marcus, G. F. (2004). The Birth of The Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought. Basic Books.
  • Marcus, G. F. (2001). The Algebraic Mind: Integrating Connectionism and Cognitive Science. MIT Press.
  • Marcus, G. F., Pinker, S., Ullman, M., Hollander, M., Rosen, T. J., Xu, F., & Clahsen, H. (1992). Overregularization in language acquisition. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 57(4), i-178.

Peer-reviewed scientific articles

  • Marcus, G. F., & Davis, E. (2013). How robust are probabilistic models of higher-level cognition? Psychological Science, 24(12), 2351–2360.
  • Marcus, G. F., Fernandes, K. J., & Johnson, S. P. (2007). Infant rule learning facilitated by speech. Psychological Science, 18(5), 387–391.
  • Marcus, G. F. (2006). Cognitive architecture and descent with modification. Cognition, 101(2), 443–465.
  • Marcus, G. F., & Fisher, S. E. (2003). FOXP2 in focus: what can genes tell us about speech and language? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(6), 257–262.
  • Marcus, G. F., Vijayan, S., Bandi Rao, S., & Vishton, P. M. (1999). Rule learning by seven-month-old infants. Science, 283(5398), 77–80.
  • Marcus, G. F. (1998). Rethinking eliminative connectionism. Cognitive Psychology, 37(3), 243–282.
  • Marcus, G. F., Brinkmann, U., Clahsen, H., Wiese, R., & Pinker, S. (1995). German inflection: The exception that proves the rule. Cognitive Psychology, 29(3), 189–256.


  • Marcus, Gary, "Am I Human?: Researchers need new ways to distinguish artificial intelligence from the natural kind", Scientific American, vol. 316, no. 3 (March 2017), pp. 58–63.
  • Marcus, Gary, "Artificial Confidence: Even the newest, buzziest systems of artificial general intelligence are stymied by the same old problems", Scientific American, vol. 327, no. 4 (October 2022), pp. 42–45


  1. ^ A Skeptical Take on the A.I. Revolution, retrieved 2023-01-11
  2. ^ "Machines that think like humans: Everything to know about AGI and AI Debate 3". ZDNET. Retrieved 2023-01-11.
  3. ^ Etherington, Darrell (2016-12-05). "Uber acquires Geometric Intelligence to create an AI lab". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2023-01-11.
  4. ^ "Uber Bets on Artificial Intelligence With Acquisition and New Lab". The New York Times. 2016-12-05. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  5. ^ Guitar Zero by Gary Marcus |
  6. ^ "Editors' Choice - Book Review". The New York Times. 2008-05-04. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  7. ^ "Gary Marcus 86F". Hampshire College. Retrieved 2023-01-11.
  8. ^ Marcus, Gary F. (1993-01-01). "Negative evidence in language acquisition". Cognition. 46 (1): 53–85. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(93)90022-N. ISSN 0010-0277. PMID 8432090. S2CID 23458757.
  9. ^ Marcus, Gary F. (1995). "Children's overregularization of English plurals: a quantitative analysis*". Journal of Child Language. 22 (2): 447–459. doi:10.1017/S0305000900009879. ISSN 1469-7602. PMID 8550732. S2CID 46561477.
  10. ^ Mameli, Matteo; Papineau, David (2006-09-01). "The new nativism: a commentary on Gary Marcus's The birth of the mind". Biology and Philosophy. 21 (4): 559–573. doi:10.1007/s10539-005-1800-7. ISSN 1572-8404. S2CID 59464488.
  11. ^ Marcus, G. F., Pinker, S., Ullman, M., Hollander, M., Rosen, T. J., and Xu, F. (1992). Overregularization in Language Acquisition. (Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development). 57 (4, Serial No. 228). SRCD monograph?
  12. ^ Marcus, G.F., The Algebraic Mind: Integrating Connectionism and Cognitive Science, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2001.
  13. ^ Marcus, G.F., The Birth of The Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought, New York, Basic Books, 2004.

External links

Original content from Wikipedia, shared with licence Creative Commons By-Sa - Gary Marcus