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The Conversation

Graduate student Anna Ivanova and University of Texas at Austin Professor Kyle Mahowald, along with Professors Evelina Fedorenko, Joshua Tenenbaum and Nancy Kanwisher, write for The Conversation that even though AI systems may be able to use language fluently, it does not mean they are sentient, conscious or intelligent. “Words can be misleading, and it is all too easy to mistake fluent speech for fluent thought,” they write.

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater spotlights multiple MIT research projects, including MIT Space Exploration Initiative’s TESSERAE, CSAIL’s Robocraft and the recent development of miniature flying robotic drones.

Forbes

Prof. Pattie Maes, and graduate students Valdemar Danry, Joanne Leong and Pat Pataranutaporn speak with Forbes reporter Stephen Ibaraki about their work in the MIT Media Lab Fluid Interfaces research group. “Their highly interdisciplinary work covering decades of MIT Lab pioneering inventions integrates human computer interaction (HCI), sensor technologies, AI / machine learning, nano-tech, brain computer interfaces, design and HCI, psychology, neuroscience and much more,” writes Ibaraki.

Fast Company

Rob Morris PhD ’14 has dedicated his career to easing access to mental health services online, reports Shalene Gupta for Fast Company. “When you search for a flight on Google, you get directed to these options that make you instantly buy a flight,” he says. “The interface is beautiful. But when you look up mental health, it’s not great. I want to do for mental health what Google did for flights.”

The Boston Globe

Prof. Karilyn Crockett speaks with Boston Globe reporter Miles Howard about how transportation planning in the Greater Boston area needs to be centered around improving connectivity. “As Boston’s population grows, our public transportation infrastructure continues to crumble, and our transit planning can’t just be about new cars on one line and new tracks on another,” says Crockett. “It has to be a discussion about the system and the economic impacts of that system on Black and brown communities that are struggling to get to doctors’ appointments, to schools, to jobs that don’t allow working from home.”

The Conversation

Writing for The Conversation, John Reilly, co-director emeritus of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, outlines a roadmap for how the U.S. can meet the Biden administration’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions 50% by 2030 below 2005 levels. “By exploiting declining costs of zero- and low-carbon energy sources in a more aggressive and focused way, the U.S. can meet its target within eight years,” writes Reilly, “all while substantially reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, including high-priced gasoline, and cutting back the air pollution, climate and health impacts resulting from their combustion.”

Popular Science

MIT engineers have developed tiny flying robots that can light up, reports Colleen Hagerty for Popular Science. “If you think of large-scale robots, they can communicate using a lot of different tools—Bluetooth, wireless, all those sorts of things,” says Prof. Kevin Chen. “But for a tiny, power-constrained robot, we are forced to think about new modes of communication.”

The Daily Beast

MIT researchers have developed a new computational model that could be used to help explain differences in how neurotypical adults and adults with autism recognize emotions via facial expressions, reports Tony Ho Tran for The Daily Beast. “For visual behaviors, the study suggests that [the IT cortex] pays a strong role,” says research scientist Kohitij Kar. “But it might not be the only region. Other regions like amygdala have been implicated strongly as well. But these studies illustrate how having good [AI models] of the brain will be key to identifying those regions as well.”

Popular Mechanics

Researchers at MIT have found that the brain can send a burst of noradrenaline when it requires you to pay attention to something crucial, reports Juandre for Popular Mechanics. “The MIT team discovered that one important function of noradrenaline, commonly known as norepinephrine, is to assist the brain in learning from unexpected results,” explains Juandre.

Wired

A study by MIT AgeLab research scientist Bryan Reimer found that drivers using autopilot were “more likely to look away from the road once the system was on,” reports Aarian Marshall for Wired. “With automation comes an inherent new level of complexities. There are lots of risks and lots of rewards,” says Reimer.

The New York Times

Prof. Sherry Turkle writes for The New York Times spotlighting “The Fight to Save the Town,” a new book by Michelle Wilde Anderson. “Anderson’s book is an artful mixture of ethnography, narrative history, in-depth interviews and legal scholarship,” writes Turkle.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Tim Logan spotlights MIT’s efforts to increase connections with the neighborhoods surrounding Kendall Square. MIT is “running shuttles from nearby neighborhoods to help people get to community events at its newly built plaza off Main Street, and it’s working on ways to get Cambridge kids better engaged with the MIT Museum when it reopens in its new location,” notes Logan. “It is imperative that what we’re doing here and Kendall represents the desires and aspirations of the neighbors,” says Sarah Gallop, co-director of MIT’s Office of Government and Community Relations. 

Wired

Wired reporter Maggie Chen spotlights Prof. Katharina Ribbeck and her lab’s work deconstructing how glycans hidden inside mucus can work to keep specific organisms healthy. Glycans “can be beneficial – assisting in food digestion, regulating immunity, and protecting against germs – but that can be harmful if they outcompete one another or become virulent, potentially leading to infection,” writes Chen.

WBUR

A new exhibit by Azza El Siddique, a sculptor and mixed media artist, will be on display at the MIT List Visual Arts Center this summer, reports Pamela Reynolds for WBUR. Reynolds notes that in this show, “viewers are invited to contemplate the transitory nature of everything.”

Forbes

Forbes contributor Jeff Kart writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds that yeast, an abundant waste product from breweries, can filter out even trace amounts of lead. The researchers demonstrated that in just five minutes “a single gram of the inactive, dried yeast cells can remove up to 12 milligrams of lead in aqueous solutions with initial lead concentrations below 1 part per million.”

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MIT researchers have created an integrated design pipeline that enables a user with no specialized knowledge to quickly craft a customized 3D-printable robotic hand.

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Since its dedication in 1938, the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel has become a campus landmark used for education, research, industry, and outreach. Today, a state-of-the-art facility replaces the original landmark to become the most advanced wind tunnel in U.S. academia.

In course 3.013, Mechanics of Materials, Professor Cem Tasan explores the basic concepts of solid mechanics and the mechanical behavior of materials: elasticity, stress-strain relationships, stress transformation, viscoelasticity, plasticity, and fracture.

“It’s exciting to really change the aesthetics of technology,” says Yoel Fink, who teaches, Computing Fabrics, a course located at the intersection of textile design and computation. The class explores the history and future of fabrics, including next-gen textiles that will be beautiful and functional in entirely new ways.

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