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Chilean president visits MIT

Sebastián Piñera views demonstrations at the Media Lab, addresses local Chilean students.
President Sebastián Piñera of Chile takes part in a demonstration of the Recompose project at the MIT Media Lab, which is a new system for manipulation of an actuated surface.
Caption:
President Sebastián Piñera of Chile takes part in a demonstration of the Recompose project at the MIT Media Lab, which is a new system for manipulation of an actuated surface.
Credits:
Photo: Dominick Reuter
Piñera listens in while Media Lab Assistant Professor César A. Hidalgo describes a Mobile Virtual Reality project
Caption:
Piñera listens in while Media Lab Assistant Professor César A. Hidalgo describes a Mobile Virtual Reality project
Credits:
Photo: Dominick Reuter
Following his tour of the Lab, Piñera delivered a speech to Chilean students from across the Boston region.
Caption:
Following his tour of the Lab, Piñera delivered a speech to Chilean students from across the Boston region.
Credits:
Photo: Dominick Reuter
Following his tour of the Lab, Piñera delivered a speech to Chilean students from across the Boston region.
Caption:
Following his tour of the Lab, Piñera delivered a speech to Chilean students from across the Boston region.
Credits:
Photo: Dominick Reuter
Piñera met with some of the students following his speech.
Caption:
Piñera met with some of the students following his speech.
Credits:
Photo: Dominick Reuter

While watching a demonstration of various MIT Media Lab projects on Friday, President Sebastián Piñera of Chile asked a question that many similar political leaders wonder of their own countries.

“So what is the next industry that will be big in Chile?” Piñera asked of César A. Hidalgo, Asahi Broadcast Corporation Career Development Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, and graduate student Alex Simoes, both of whom are at the Media Lab. The two were demonstrating their work with The Economic Complexity Observatory, a collaborative project meant to develop new tools that can help visualize large amounts of data for macroeconomic-development decision making. In response to Piñera, the researchers said that plastics looked to be an economic driver for Chile in the foreseeable future.

The demonstration was one part of Piñera’s visit to the Institute: He met with MIT President Susan Hockfield before heading to the Media Lab, where he also delivered a speech to Chilean students from across the Boston region.

Piñera, addressing the crowd in Spanish, admitted that he felt a "deep, but healthy, jealousy" for the students who had the opportunity to study "at one of the best universities in the world." But he also urged them, once done with their studies, to come home.

"Chile needs your education, the skills you've acquired here," he said. "That's what will make a difference in our economy going forward."

Emily Finn contributed to this story.

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