Although he is best known for his award-winning voice, singer-songwriter Andrea Bocelli is equally impressive off the stage: In 2011, his longtime commitment to philanthropy and charitable work became an official mission with the launch of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation (ABF).
The foundation, which was created to help people in need due to illness, disability, poverty, or social exclusion, has collaborated with MIT researchers on programs related to vision impairment and social impact research. Members of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), who partnered with ABF, will share their work along with researchers from the United States and Italy at an event on campus this Friday attended by Bocelli.
ABF promotes its mission through two programs — called “Challenges” and “Break the Barriers” — which will each host a workshop at the daylong event. The Challenges program focuses on scientific and technological research and social innovation, while Break the Barriers concentrates on breaking down economic and cultural barriers in Italy and developing countries.
Presented in collaboration with CSAIL, the Challenges workshop will feature a debate between Italian and MIT researchers on the ways neuroscientists and computer scientists are attempting to develop innovative technologies for the visually impaired. Researchers from across the country will share their work in this field, including the multidisciplinary MIT Fifth Sense project, funded by ABF and developed at CSAIL, which is working on wearable devices that would provide several key functions of vision to blind and visually impaired people.
Break the Barriers, which is hosted in collaboration with J-PAL, will focus on the importance of water-related projects in developing nations and will include a presentation from young leaders involved with an ABF initiative in Haiti. J-PAL researchers will also discuss the value of both supporting social programs in the field and using scientific methods to assess the impact of those programs once they conclude.
This event has been designated as part of the Year of Italian Culture in the United States, which is an initiative from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs intended to promote Italy and Italian culture and strengthen the bonds between the two countries.
“This is a partnership that fully reflects the objectives of the 2013 Year of Italian Culture in the United States,” said the Italian Ambassador to the United States, Claudio Bisogniero, who will attend the Break the Barriers workshop at MIT. “Innovation, research, and discovery are the motives inspiring the initiative which, with over 300 events across America, is contributing to further strengthening the already excellent relations between Italy and the United States.”
MIT community members who are interested in attending either workshop can register at: http://www.abfmit2013.com. The program will also be webcast live beginning at 8:30 a.m. here: