You are not a gadget
Something started to go wrong with the digital revolution at the start of the 21st century. Individual creativity has begun to go out of fashion and people are being restricted to what can be represented on a computer. Are we deadening the human experience? Jaron Lanier delivers a call to arms in support of the human and reflects on the good and bad developments in design 20 years after the invention of the web.
India's Economy: Performance And Challenges
India has traversed a long way since the economic reforms of the early 1990s, and is now widely recognized as one of the fastest growing countries in the world. In view of Montek Singh Ahluwalia's key role in crafting reforms which helped integrate India with the world economy, this volume (India's Economy: Performance and Challenges Essays in Honour of Montek Singh Ahluwalia) in his honour brings together essays by leading experts on the Indian economy and on international economic policy. It s
21W.742J Writing About Race (MIT)
The issue of race and racial identity have preoccupied many writers throughout the history of the U.S. In this subject, students read Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Louise Erdrich, William Faulkner, Maxine Hong Kingston, Sandra Cisneros, and Judson Mitcham, among others, as we consider the story of race in its peculiarly American dimensions. The reading, along with the writing of members of the class, is the focus of class discussions. Oral presentations on subjects of individual interest are als
The Medium Doesn’t Matter
In an era of packaged toys and online games, have our children lost the knack of creative play? While American kids may never again prefer sticks and other found objects to the manufactured experience, Laura Seargeant Richardson of frog design believes children can still evolve from game consumers to game designers. I
Stem Cells: Programming and Personalized Medicine
After years of relentless lab work, rising and falling expectations, and the challenge of a sometimes hostile public, Rudolf Jaenisch says, “The scenario that looked like a fantasy … has come closer to reality. We can study complex human diseases in a Petri dish and potentially contribute to therapy.” In this l
Technologies Changing Communities, Communities Innovating Technology
The best way to help a community help itself, say Dayna Cunningham and Alexa Mills, is to enable its members to find their voices and talk to each other. In several projects in the U.S. and overseas, the two speakers are developing methodologies for enabling communities to express and define themselves, so they may b
Engineering for the Ecological Age: Lessons from History
John Ochsendorf, a structural engineer, “fell in love with archaeology” during college. His senior thesis at Cornell involved a 600-year-old Incan suspension bridge made entirely out of grass. Ochsendorf learned that this apparently primitive structure owed its astonishing longevity to regular rebuilds by the l
In the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake, four panelists with strong personal and professional ties to Haiti share their insights about the different paths to rebuilding and reconstructing the country.
Erica James begins with a view of Haiti’s history of “insécurité”, a term used to describe “cycles of polit
Innovation at the Interface: Technological Fusion at MIT
When disciplines converge, innovation results. To prove the point, two inventers offered rich and varied examples from their respective areas: artificial intelligence and biomedicine. Rodney Brooks describes robots exploring dangerous bunkers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and intelligent prosthetic limbs. He predicts that in
Future energy demand and supply
When you consider that the global annual consumption of primary energy increased more than ten-fold during the 20th Century, the importance of planning future energy supply becomes clear.
Whales to Wood, Wood to Coal/Oil- What’s Next?
In 1845, the Dietz Company of New York introduced the sperm oil lantern, which nearly wiped out some whale species. A decade or so later, Dietz began to manufacture lamps using other oils, and gas lighting fixtures, giving whales a reprieve. More than a century has passed, and we’re “about to do it again,” says
Observations on the Science of Finance in the Practice of Finance
There will be a time “beyond crisis,” asserts Robert C. Merton, who delves into the dense science of derivatives -- a field he has fundamentally shaped -- to explain how the vast global economic collapse has come about, and how financial innovations at the heart of the collapse could also be tools for reconstruction.
Education Across Borders: The India Perspective
Rickshaw drivers in India are frequent victims of tuberculosis after just a few years inhaling traffic fumes. This near-epidemic went unacknowledged until
Kapil Sibal demanded a solution. The fix, now gaining traction across the country, is a solar-powered vehicle that eliminates pedaling. But what began as a project to ass
MIT Perspective on Engineering Systems
The field of systems engineering has only recently emerged, and as this symposium demonstrates, defies precise definition. But MIT has taken this evolving area to heart, nurturing a new division and encouraging a raft of ventures that in their execution, may help shape the field for the next century.
An MIT freshman in 1
Race from France to France, Leave Antarctica to Starboard
Rich Wilson had followed the Vendée Globe Race ('round-the-world single-handed) since its inception in 1988 but had never considered sailing it himself—“too hard, too long, too dangerous, too risky, too, too, too, the boats were too big, the sails were too big.”
Then he reconsidered the possibility when he realize
Lunch with a Laureate: Robert Horvitz
As an undergraduate at MIT, Robert Horvitz did not take a biology course until his senior year. But after only six weeks into his first class with professor Cy Leventhal, he realized this was the field for him. He boldly asked for a recommendation as part of his application to grad school—in biology. “Is it too late?” he
The Power of Competition: How to Focus the World’s Brains on your Innovation Challenges
Cooperation may be making us “a little bit too nice” when it comes to innovation, suggests Fiona Murray. She believes there’s nothing like competition for injecting energy into the process of solving key innovation problems, whether in business or society.
Murray is convinced competition make ventures “more ef
Automotive Lightweighting as a Strategic Opportunity for India’s Automotive Industry
Suppose you could leapfrog 100 years of experience in the automotive industry and begin a new manufacturing epoch. The strategic change you would make is to lightweight the vehicle, observes Charles Fine. Although steel has been the material of choice for many automotive components since the dawn of the automotive age, th
Weapons of Mass Confusion: Assessing the True Risks
Panelists gathered for this discussion agree that when setting weapons policy it is counterproductive to lump weapons together. The dangers from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons need to understood individually. Owen Cote says nuclear weapons, with their large-scale production process and instant lethal capacity, belong in one categ
The Militarization of Science and Space
Chomsky launches a savage, two-pronged assault on national economic policies and efforts at “global domination….By now the stakes are so high that issues of survival arise,” says Chomsky.
The basic principle underlying our current economy is “to make rich people happy and make everybody else frightened.” Chom