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Graduate, postdoctoral

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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.

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.

Scientific American

In a recent case study, Steven Gonzalez Monserrate PhD ’22 makes the case that the environmental cost of computer science, specifically computer cloud storage and data centers, are huge and will only continue to rise, reports Naomi Oreskes for Scientific American. “The cloud, he [Monserrate] contends, is a ‘carbonivore’: a single data center can use the same amount of electricity as 50,000 homes,” writes Oreskes. “The entire cloud has a greater carbon footprint than the entire airline industry.”

Popular Mechanics

Researchers from MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) are working on making commercial nuclear fusion a reality, reports Juandre for Popular Mechanics. “CFS will build [the tokamak] SPARC and develop a commercial fusion product, while MIT PSFC will focus on its core mission of cutting-edge research and education,” says Prof. Dennis G. Whyte, director of the PSFC. 

The Boston Globe

MIT celebrated the Classes of 2020 and 2021 during a special ceremony on May 28 that featured an address by Kealoha Wong ’99, Hawaii’s first poet laureate, reports Laura Crimaldi for The Boston Globe. “We may make some esoteric discovery or some small contribution to our industries, but most likely, our most significant impact will be in our communities and in our families,” Kealoha said. “Our impact will be felt in the way that we treat others and the way that we treat ourselves.”

Wired

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.

Marketplace

Prof. Anna Stansbury speaks with Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace about a new working paper she co-authored examining the lack of socioeconomic diversity in the field of economics. “Economists are really influencing policy and the public debate on all sorts of important subjects,” says Stansbury. “If we have a discipline [where] two-thirds of the U.S.-born economics profession is made up of people whose parents have graduate degrees, you know, that’s a very selected group that is maybe missing really important perspectives.”

Chronicle of Higher Education

Prof. Jackson G. Lu co-authored a research article which suggests “East Asian students are also struggling in classrooms where assertiveness is expected but not necessarily encouraged within their cultures,” reports Katherine Mangan for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Raider Times

Postdoctoral associate Josh Borrow spoke with students from Watertown High School about his research and what inspired him to pursue a career in astrophysics. “One of the things that comes with this job is this odd sense of scale,” said Borrow. “I think astronomers really understand scale better than many people do. And I think the most inspiring thing about that is just how small we are relative to the rest of the universe.”

Scientific American

Steven Gonzalez Monserrate PhD ’22 writes for Scientific American about the ecological and environmental implications of our digital lives. “As [the cloud] continues to expand, its environmental impact increases, even as the engineers, technicians, and executives behind its infrastructures strive to balance profitability with sustainability,” writes Gonzalez Monserrate.

Forbes

Olympian Alexis Sablone ’16 will be the new head coach for the United States women’s skateboarding team in the upcoming Olympic Games, reports Michelle Bruton for Forbes. Sablone “has one of the most decorated careers of any female street skater, with seven X games medals and a 2015 World Skateboarding Championship,” writes Bruton.

The Atlantic

Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini writes for The Atlantic about the dangers posed by government agencies adopting the use of facial recognition technology. “No biometric technologies should be adopted by the government to police access to services or benefits,” writes Buolamwini, “certainly not without cautious consideration of the dangers they pose, due diligence in outside testing, and the consent of those exposed to potential abuse, data exploitation, and other harms that affect us all.”

Forbes

Forbes has named Raya Ani ’94, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala MCP PhD ’81, ’78, and former postdoc Shulamit Levenberg to their 50 Over 50 list, which highlights women from Europe, the Middle East and Asia who are leading the way, reports Maggie McGrath for Forbes. “Women around the world are proving that 50 and beyond is the new golden age,” writes McGrath.

The Boston Globe

Postdoctoral associate Matt McDonald will run in the 2022 Boston Marathon this upcoming April, reports Michael Silverman for The Boston Globe. “It’s thrilling that I’ll get to race the best marathon in the world on the street that I run every day,” says McDonald.

Financial Times

In a letter to the Financial Times, graduate student Daniel Aronoff makes the case that the demise of local banks in the U.S. should be examined and regulatory changes should be made to enable them to operate more profitably. “A system that can make small loans to small entrepreneurs not only helps the borrowers, but also promotes a more efficient allocation of resources in the economy," Aronoff writes.