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MIT Media Lab presents the future at US millennium celebration in DC

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America's Millennium is a national celebration planned for the capital by the White House and Smithsonian Institution, with a gala event produced by Quincy Jones to mark the new year with presentations including the premiere of a Steven Spielberg film about the American experience and a new John Williams score.

Following an opening ceremony hosted by the President and First Lady at 11:00 on December 31st, American's Millennium on the Mall will move into the Smithsonian for conversations looking back and ahead, from Blues with B.B. King to The Future of Literature with Robert Pinsky, U.S. Poet Laureate.

To explore "Future Visions" of science and technology, the organizers turned to Prof. Neil Gershenfeld of the MIT Media Laboratory for two panels, leading off at 12:00 on the 31st with demonstrations of coming technologies, and a discussion across the generations at 1:15 on the 1st.

Dr. Gershenfeld leads the MIT Media Lab's Physics and Media research group and Things That Think industrial consortium. The demo panel draws on a number of the students, sponsors, and collaborators of these Media Lab projects to present a vision of how technology can be less obtrusive and more responsive, showing molecular quantum computing (with Yael Maguire), nanoscale manipulation of biomolecules (with Sean Washburn of UNC), a smart shelf for healthcare (with Paul Yarin and Becton Dickinson), and the future of paper (with the United States Postal Service, Josh Smith of Escher Labs, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard).

Also shown are interactive furniture (with Olufemi Omojola, the Museum of Modern Art, Steelcase, NEC Technologies, and Motorola), directional sound (with Joe Pompei), wearable computing (with Rehmi Post and Levi Strauss & Company), personal fabrication (with Kelly Dobson), and programmable toys (with David Dalrymple and LEGO). He will be joined on the 1st by David Dalrymple (aged 8, a 9th grade inventor), Hilary McQuaide (16, a participant in the Media Lab's international Junior Summit and Nation 1, a group of young people creating a country in cyberspace), Yael Maguire (24, a graduate student developing computers based on quantum mechanics to reach beyond the ultimate limits of today's integrated circuits), and Philip Morrison (84, MIT Institute Professor Emeritus of Physics, Manhattan Project group leader, SETI pioneer, philosopher, author, and activist). This group will explore the opportunities and implications for science and technology in the coming millennium.

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