July 11, 2019
MIT researchers have developed artificial muscles that can stretch more than 1,000 percent of their size and lift more than 650 times their weight, reports Sid Perkins for Scientific American. The new fibers could have applications in robotics and prosthetic devices, Perkins explains, and “work more like real muscles: they do work by pulling on or lifting objects.”
Profs. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Dufo speak with Vox reporter Dylan Matthews about their book, “Good Economics for Hard Times.” Matthews notes that the book “tackles issues in both poor and rich countries, setting its sights on big-ticket macro issues: the impact of immigration, automation, and trade on workers; the rise of nativism and xenophobia; and universal basic income.”
Writing for The New York Times, principal research scientist Andrew McAfee explores how new digital technologies have enabled Americans to decrease total use of many critical materials while still maintaining economic growth. McAfee notes that technological progress “can allow us to get ‘more from less’ and better navigate a world of dwindling natural resources.”
Elisabeth Reynolds, executive director of the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future, speaks with Kaveh Waddell and Alison Syder of Axios about the potential impact of automation. "If we stay on the trajectory we're on currently, we're going to have greater income inequality, less social mobility, greater political unrest and greater income insecurity," says Reynolds.
MIT and IBM researchers have developed a new dataset aimed at improving how AI systems identify objects, reports Kaveh Waddell and Alison Snyder for Axios. "We don’t want them to only recognize what is very common," says principal research scientist Boris Katz. "We want [a robot] to recognize a chair that is upside down on the floor and not say it is a backpack."
Writing for The Washington Post, Profs. Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson argue that to ease income inequality, the federal government must increase federal support for research and development in areas of the country that have underutilized technical talent. “To boost economic growth, we should strengthen scientific fields where breakthroughs are imminent and where any other country — China in particular — threatens to forge ahead,” they write.