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A team of MIT scholars and journalists are underscoring that artificial intelligence could advance colonialism in a three-part series supported by the MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program and the Pulitzer Center, reports Ellen McGirt for Fortune. “While it would diminish the depth of past traumas to say the A.I. industry is repeating this violence [plunder and slavery] today, it is now using other, more insidious means to enrich the wealth and powerful at the great expense of the poor,” says the team.


Graduate student Anna Waldman-Brown writes for Wired about the future of automation technology and how it can impact labor dynamics in the future. “While some scholars believe that our fates are predetermined by the technologies themselves, emerging evidence indicates that we may have considerable influence over how such machines are employed within our factories and offices – if we can only figure out how to wield this power,” writes Waldman-Brown.


TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater spotlights MIT startup Strio.AI, which is aimed at bringing autonomous picking and pruning to strawberry crops.

New York Times

Prof. David Autor speaks with New York Times columnist Peter Coy about the new book he wrote with Prof. David Mindell and Elisabeth Reynolds, “The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines.” Autor explains that: “Most people’s fear of technology is really a fear of capitalism, what the markets will do with the technology. You can’t make a lot of progress if you’re making people poorer at the same time.”


The Economist highlights new work by MIT researchers investigating the impact of automation on the labor market. A study by graduate student Joonas Tuhkuri finds that at Finnish firms “adoption of advanced technologies led to increases in hiring.” Meanwhile a new book by Profs. David Autor, David Mindell and Elisabeth Reynolds concludes that “even if robots do not create widespread joblessness, they may have helped create an environment where the rewards are ‘skewed towards the top.’”

New York Times

New York Times reporter Steve Lohr spotlights Institute Prof. Daron Acemoglu’s research showing that “excessive automation” has contributed to rising inequality. “We need to redirect technology so it works for people,” says Acemoglu, “not against them.”


Ikigai, an MIT startup, is building automated workflows where human decision making will be a part of the process, reports Ron Miller for Tech Crunch. “What we saw is that there are use cases… [that involve] manual processes in the organizations that were extremely difficult to automate because a fundamental step involved humans making judgements or decisions with data, and where both the data and rules they’re operating on would change very often,” co-founder and CEO Vinayak Ramesh M.Eng ‘18, ‘12 tells Miller.


Forbes contributor Adi Gaskell writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds increased investment in robotics and automation-based technologies as populations age. Gaskell notes that: “the data shows a strong relationship between the age of the workforce, which was defined as the ratio of workers aged over 56 and those aged between 21 and 55, and the adoption of robotics in 60 different countries.”

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Amrith Ramkumar spotlights MIT startup Presto, which is combining with a special-purpose acquisitions company and going public. “Presto offers several different technologies that it says automate restaurants and improve the dining experience,” writes Ramkumar.


Reuters reporter Timothy Aeppel spotlights a new report by MIT researchers examining how automation is spreading to small and medium-sized factories in America. “Among the 34 companies with 500 employees or fewer in Ohio, Massachusetts and Arizona that the MIT researchers visited in their project, only one had bought robots in large numbers in the last five years,” writes Aeppel, “and that was an Ohio company that had been acquired by a Japanese multinational which pumped in money for the new automation.”

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporters Angus Loten and Kevin Hand spotlight how MIT researchers are developing robots with humanlike senses that will be able to assist with a range of tasks. GelSight, a technology developed by CSAIL researchers, outfits robot arms with a small gel pad that can be pressed into objects to sense their size and texture, while another team of researchers is “working to bridge the gap between touch and sight by training an AI system to predict what a seen object feels like and what a felt object looks like.”


Graduate student Shashank Srikant speaks with The Economist about his work developing a new model that can detect computer bugs and vulnerabilities that have been maliciously inserted into computer code.

New York Times

New York Times reporter Ben Casselman spotlights a study by Prof. Daron Acemoglu that finds many technological advances have replaced human labor without increasing productivity. “If we automated less, we would not actually have generated that much less output but we would have had a very different trajectory for inequality,” says Acemoglu.

Planet Money

Greg Rosalsky of NPR’s Planet Money spotlights Prof. Daron Acemoglu’s research exploring how automation is driving inequality in America. Rosalsky notes that Acemoglu hopes his research “will get policymakers to take a new, smarter approach to technological change.”


A new working paper by MIT researchers finds that automation is replacing more workers than outsourcing, reports Scott Tong for Marketplace. Prof. Daron Acemoglu notes that workers displaced by machines won’t be able to find better quality jobs unless “we invest in new technologies that create new tasks and new opportunities for workers.”