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Electrical engineering and computer science (EECS)

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The Economist

Prof. Regina Barzilay joins The Economist’s “Babbage” podcast to discuss how artificial intelligence could enable health care providers to understand and treat diseases in new ways. Host Alok Jha notes that Barzilay is determined to “overcome those challenges that are standing in the way of getting AI models to become useful in health care.” Barzilay explains: “I think we really need to change our mindset and think how we can solve the many problems for which human experts were unable to find a way forward.”  

Gizmodo

C. Gordon Bell ’57, SM 57 was a “computer pioneer always looking ten steps ahead and building that version of the world,” writes Gizmodo’s Matt Novak. Bell was, “a true visionary in the world of computing who helped design some of the first minicomputers in the 1960s," Novak adds. 

New York Times

Called the “Frank Lloyd Wright of computers,” technology visionary C. Gordon Bell ’57, SM '57, “the master architect in the effort to create smaller, affordable, interactive computers that could be clustered into a network,” has died. “He was among a handful of influential engineers whose designs formed the vital bridge between the room-size models of the mainframe era and the advent of the personal computer,” notes Glenn Rifkin for The New York Times

Scientific American

Scientific American reporter Riis Williams explores how MIT researchers created “smart gloves” that have tactile sensors woven into the fabric to help teach piano and make other hands-on activities easier. “Hand-based movements like piano playing are normally really subjective and difficult to record and transfer,” explains graduate student Yiyue Luo. “But with these gloves we are actually able to track one person’s touch experience and share it with another person to improve their tactile learning process.”

Poets & Quants for Executives

Prof. Thomas Malone speaks with Poets & Quants for Executives reporter Alison Damast about the executive education course he teaches with Prof. Daniela Rus that aims to provide senior-level managers with a better sense of how AI works. “We are certainly not trying to teach people to understand the details of how to write AI programs, though some of those in the course may know that already,” Malone says. “What we are trying to do is give them a sense of when it is easy and when it is hard to use AI technology at various times for different kinds of business applications.”

The Economist

Prof. Daniela Rus, director of CSAIL, speaks with The Economist’s Babbage podcast about the history and future of artificial neural networks and their role in large language models. “The early artificial neuron was a very simple mathematical model,” says Rus. “The computation was discrete and very simple, essentially a step function. You’re either above or below a value.”  

The Boston Globe

Prof. Daniela Rus, director of CSAIL, speaks with Boston Globe reporter Evan Sellinger about her new book, “The Heart and the Chip: Our Bright Future With Robots,” in which she makes the case that in the future robots and humans will be able to team up to create a better world. “I want to highlight that machines don’t have to compete with humans, because we each have different strengths. Humans have wisdom. Machines have speed, can process large numbers, and can do many dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks,” Rus explains. “I see robots as helpers for our jobs. They’ll take on the routine, repetitive tasks, ensuring human workers focus on more complex and meaningful work.”

TechCrunch

Corey Jaskolski SM '02 founded Synthetaic, a software company that uses AI to “automate the analysis of large datasets, namely satellite imagery and video, not containing labels,” reports Kyle Wiggers for TechCrunch. “Synthetaic’s technology offers a transformative approach to AI model training and creation, addressing the critical needs of technical decision makers,” says Jaskolski.

The Christian Science Monitor

Christian Science Monitor reporter Ira Porter spotlights undergraduate Subin Kim and his experience transferring from community college to MIT through the Transfer Scholars Network, which is aimed at helping community college students find a path to four-year universities. “Every student that we admit, we’re looking for academic excellence and personal excellence,” says Stuart Schmill, dean of MIT admissions and student financial services. “And the students that we’ve brought in from the Transfer Scholar Network and in general from community colleges are remarkable individuals.”

Curiosity Stream

Four faculty members from across MIT - Professors Song Han, Simon Johnson, Yoon Kim and Rosalind Picard - speak with Curiosity Stream about the opportunities and risks posed by the rapid advancements in the field of AI. “We do want to think about which human capabilities we treasure,” says Picard. She adds that during the Covid-19 pandemic, “we saw a lot of loss of people's ability to communicate with one another face-to-face when their world moved online. I think we need to be thoughtful and intentional about what we're building with the technology and whether it's diminishing who we are or enhancing it.”

The Messenger

Writing for The Messenger, graduate student Kartik Chandra highlights the MIT Art Lending Program, which allows students to select one piece from the List Visual Arts Center’s collection to keep in their dorm rooms for the duration of the academic year. “Three years into my time at MIT, I’m convinced the program works well,” writes Chandra. “Our relationship with art changes from the moment we walk into the gallery. As students wander, pondering what to take home, conventional measures of fame, monetary worth, and even beauty fall away, and the only question that matters becomes: Does this piece speak to you, personally? And something always does — as if it were put there just for you.”

STAT

STAT reporter Annalisa Merelli writes that the 2023 Lasker Award has been given to Prof. James Fujimoto, research affiliate Eric Swanson SM ’84 and David Huang PhD ’93 for their work advancing the diagnosis of eye disease. Fujimoto, Swanson and Huang developed “optical coherence tomography (OCT) — the first noninvasive technology allowing doctors to see high-resolution images of the retina.”

The New York Times

Prof. James Fujimoto, research affiliate Eric Swanson SM ’84 and David Huang PhD ’93 have won a Lasker Award for their work inventing optical coherence tomography, which can “detect conditions like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy earlier than previous methods, preventing blindness,” reports Noah Weiland and Cade Metz for The New York Times. “O.C.T. now is commonly used in ophthalmology offices, where the patient simply rests a chin and forehead against an instrument for a brief scan,” write Weiland and Metz. “The method, invented in 1991, offers a staggering amount of detail about the retina.”

NBC News

NBC News highlights how researchers from MIT and MGH have developed a new AI tool, called Sybil, that can “accurately predict whether a person will develop lung cancer in the next year 86% to 94% of the time.” NBC News notes that according to experts, the tool "could be a leap forward in the early detection of lung cancer.”

The Boston Globe

Prof. Ronitt Rubinfeld has been named a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellow, reports Mark Feeney for The Boston Globe. “A ‘Guggenheim’ is one of the most sought-after honors in academe and culture,” explains Feeney. “It helps underwrite a proposed art or scholarly project.”