Monday, April 23, 2012

Media Lab Spring 2012: Join us via webcast!

Media Lab member week is here!

Our invited guests spent today in workshops and unconferences. Starting tomorrow, you can join us via webcast to learn about what's new the Media Lab.

The meeting will be hosted by award-winning journalist John Hockenberry. Tuesday's agenda will provide a look at what's going on at the Lab broadly through presentations and discussions. There will be three breaks during the program when attendees at the Lab will participate in "Lab Explorations." These open houses will not be webcast. Wednesday's program, which will be a day-long exploration on embedding nature's design in tomorrow's technology, will feature both Lab faculty and invited speakers, including Reid Hoffman, Craig Venter, John Maeda, and Paola Antonelli.

We just wanted get some useful information all in one place.

We hope you'll catch at least some of the two-day webcast, which should include lots of great content!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Inside Out

I am often referred to as a bionic man because I have two "smart" lower-leg prostheses that perform like biological legs–and in certain instances, outperform biological legs. As my "natural" body ages, my legs don't; I'm always ready for an upgrade.

But the technology that has given me these legs represents just the tip of the iceberg of what may be possible in an era where design promises to elegantly merge nature with technology. Imagine a world where we finally know as much about our natural selves as the synthetic materials we create–a world devoid of instruction manuals, where nature and technology are so seamlessly intertwined that we cannot tell where one ends and the other begins.

Next Wednesday, April 25, the Media Lab will be bringing together an incredible group of innovative thinkers, including Craig Venter, Reid Hoffman, Marvin Minsky, John Maeda, and Paola Antonelli for a day-long exploration that just might forever change your thinking about what is natural and what is not. And what the future has in store for us.

A live video stream of this event will be at
Twitter hashtag: #MediaLabIO

Hugh Herr is associate professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where he leads the Biomechatronics research group.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Preview of Coming Attractions

The energy level here at the Media Lab is growing as we make the final push to get everything ready for next week's event–both for our invited guests and our virtual attendees.

We thought that you might like to hear a little from one of our invited speakers, LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman. When Reid was here recently as a part of our Media Lab Conversations series, we asked him for his thoughts on a question posed by next week's emcee, John Hockenberry, about networks and connections and what they can tell us about big ideas.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

You Asked, We Answered

We took some of your questions from Twitter about the relationship between nature and technology and matched them up with some Media Lab researchers. Here's what they have to say:

@clintbeharry YOU ASKED
Is 3D tech a new frontier of immersion, or a minor update we will quickly attune to in the arms race for attention? #MediaLabIO

"There's more to immersion than 3D, including peripheral vision, sound, etc. Most viewers report that our Infinity-by-Nine system (which appears to be an "infinitely" wide TV screen) is more immersive than a standard 3D TV viewing experience."
Mike Bove, head of the Object-Based Media group

@metadesigners YOU ASKED
Language shapes our intellectual grasp of Nature, but is over-coloured by Technological metaphors. How to re-language language?

"Language is practically nothing but metaphor. See Lakoff's "Metaphors We Live By." Worried that technology metaphors will somehow corrupt language? Don't be. In every era, the same concerns, and you know what? In time, people are always good at putting things into their proper perspective."
Henry Lieberman, head of the Software Agents group

@MoralesFrancesc YOU ASKED
Is the technology changing our nature, leading us to an another evolution step?

"Until Darwin, evolution had no plan. No intelligent Designer. (Except for some breeders of plants and animals.) Now we have crossed a threshold of knowledge–and can begin to design genetic modifications. So now, all the rules of the game can be changed!"
Marvin Minsky, professor emeritus and author of Society of Mind

"Going through tech driven 'evolutionary step'—more about systems and networks—less about singularity IMHO."
Joi Ito, Media Lab director

@thousecambridge YOU ASKED
What about human behavior inclines us surrender privacy to technology?

"I think human behavior around privacy will change once we feel more pain."
Joi Ito, Media Lab director

Learn more about the relationship between nature and technology via webcast next week at our spring event.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Your chance to win some MIT Media Lab swag!

As we gear up for the Media Lab’s spring event on the intersection of nature and technology, we’ve put together a little contest for our followers! All of the details on the contest, which starts tomorrow, can be found below. There are four chances to win some cool Media Lab swag–good luck! And if you haven’t already done so, be sure to ‘like’ our Facebook page so you’ll see the contest once it begins!

Over the next two weeks leading up to the MIT Media Lab Spring 2012 Event, we’ll be releasing pairs of photos of projects that are related in some way. Four pairs in total will be released over the next two weeks via our Facebook page, giving you plenty of chances to win. They’ll be released on the Tuesday and Thursday of each week.

Each of the pairs will include two photos of two different research projects or research topics at the Media Lab. All you have to do is comment on the picture with your best guess on how they’re related. Responses on all four pairs will be accepted through Friday, April 20 at 2pm ET. The first person to guess correctly will be given a prize. If no one guesses the correct answer, the Media Lab staff will award the best guess with a prize. If people seem to be stumped, we’ll throw a few hints into the mix.The winners will be announced during the Media Lab event, and on the MIT Media Lab Facebook page and Twitter handle.

A surefire way to make your friends jealous–all winners will get something cool from the MIT Media Lab!

Friday, April 6, 2012

LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman: Conversation Archive

If you missed Wednesday's Media Lab Conversation between Joi Ito and LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, never fear! It's available to watch as an archived webcast. In addition, graduate student Matt Stempeck has provided a detailed transcript of the talk.

The schedule of upcoming Conversations includes Tim O'Reilly (4/18), Howard Rheingold (5/10), and more TBA.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pushing Limits with a Fearless Bionic Man

Hugh Herr: "I'm just in love with–enamored with–the design of the human body; its elegance. We steal from the cookie jar of nature and we apply that, and we build synthetic constructs that emulate that functionality."

Here's a preview of one of the topics of our April event, Inside Out, via Sanjay Gupta's interview with Media Lab professor Hugh Herr. Hugh discusses his group's work on "bionic" prosthetics in this CNN video (click the image for the video and full article on CNN).