Sigmund Freud continues to be one of the most influential thinkers of the past century and a half. Freud's breakthroughs include the theory of the unconscious mind, emphasis on the importance and meaning of dreams, and the three-part identification of the forces functioning within individuals: the superego, the ego, and the id. Freud's commentaries on social interactions, including his works on religion and other aspects of culture, continue to be discussed and debated.
Alan Turing is a major figure in the development of computing and research into artificial intelligence. Turing was prominent in many fields, including cryptography (code-breaking), information processing, philosophy, biology, cognition, probability theory, and mathematics. Perhaps his most famous achievement is the Turing test (1950), in which he postulated criteria of whether or not a machine could "think."
Marvin Minsky spent most of his teaching career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is the cofounder of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. In his book, The Society of Mind (1985), he describes the mind as a collection of agents performing basic functions, such as movement, balance, and comparison.
William Gibson gained renown for his first novel, Neuromancer (1984). This work has been widely held to have inaugurated "cyberpunk," a new type of science fiction. Gibson has continued to produce a series of cyberspace-based novels, including Virtual Light (1993) and Spook Country (2007).
Fredric Jameson is widely known as an analyst and interpreter of the 20th-century movement in the arts, literature, and philosophy known as postmodernism. He has also published works on capitalism from a Marxist perspective.
Jean Piaget's major contributions to psychology include the thesis that a child's mind evolves through set stages in order to attain understanding. Piaget claimed that children constantly create and recreate their own reality, developing more complex models from simpler ones. Piaget's theories had an immense influence on ideas about learning and education.
Erik Erikson's best-known work is Childhood and Society (1950), a book in which he identifies and describes eight stages of psychosocial development in the human "life cycle." Erikson also wrote influential books about Martin Luther (1483–1546) and Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948).