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BBC News

Prof. Hugh Herr joins the BBC’s Shiona McCallum to discuss a program by the K. Lisa Yang Center for Bionics aimed at bringing prosthetics to those who suffered forced amputations during the Sierra Leone Civil War. “When we train a young person on how to construct an arm or leg prothesis we’ve impacted the country for solidly forty years,” Herr says. “That person’s going to be living in that country and contributing to their community for a very long time. That’s exciting.” 

National Geographic

MIT researchers have discovered “a new way to interfere with a certain bacterial enzyme that may lead to a new class of antibiotics,” reports Meryl Davids Landau for National Geographic. 

Popular Science

Tomás Vega SM '19 is CEO and co-founder of Augmental, a startup helping people with movement impairments interact with their computer devices, reports Popular Science’s Andrew Paul. Seeking to overcome the limitations of most brain-computer interfaces, the company’s first product is the MouthPad, leveraging the tongue muscles.“Our hope is to create an interface that is multimodal, so you can choose what works for you,” said Vega. “We want to be accommodating to every condition.”

WGBH

Prof. Tod Machover joins GBH’s The Culture Show to discuss artificial intelligence in music, from exciting new tools to debates about licensing. Speaking with host Jared Bowen, he says “the field is changing so fast right now, it’s so important to keep up and also to decide how to influence it, because we’re trying to push this towards a positive end.”

The Guardian

Researchers at MIT have designed an “AI-powered chatbot that simulates a user’s older self and dishes out observations and pearls of wisdom,” reports Ian Sample for The Guardian. “The goal is to promote long-term thinking and behavior change,” says graduate student Pat Pataranutaporn. “This could motivate people to make wiser choices in the present that optimize for their long-term wellbeing and life outcomes.”

Correio Braziliense

Reporting in Portuguese, Correio Braziliense highlights researchers at MIT who have developed a new technique that uses light stimuli to benefit people with paralysis or amputations. “Our work could help bring the use of optogenetics closer to humans in the realm of neuroprosthetics that control paralyzed muscles and other functions of the peripheral nervous system,” says graduate student Guillermo Herrera-Arcos. 

Scientific American

Scientific American’s Nick Hilden reports on the influence that popular narratives have on our collective perceptions. Graduate student Pat Pataranutaporn notes: “why do we always imagine science fiction to be a dystopia? Why can’t we imagine science fiction that gives us hope?”

PBS NOVA

NOVA program host Alok Patel explores the benefits of sharing personal data without compromising personal privacy. He visits Prof. Ramesh Raskar’s Camera Culture Lab, where Raskar discusses the concept of “smashing data” - the process of extracting useful information while obscuring private data. “Achieving privacy and benefits of the data is available, and it’s just a matter of convincing large companies to play along those rules,” said Raskar.

The New York Times

Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have used quantitative and computational methods to analyze animal communication, reports Emily Anthes for The New York Times.

STAT

Writing for STAT, Prof. Kevin Esvelt explores how, “the immense potential benefits of biotechnology are profoundly vulnerable to misuse. A pandemic caused by a virus made from synthetic DNA — or even a lesser instance of synthetic bioterrorism — would not only generate a public health crisis but also trigger crippling restrictions on research.” Esvelt adds: “The world has too much to gain from the life sciences to continue letting just anyone obtain DNA sufficient to cause a pandemic.” 

Wired

Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have used an AI model to develop a “new approach to finding money laundering on Bitcoin’s blockchain,” reports Andy Greenberg for Wired. “Rather than try to identify cryptocurrency wallets or clusters of addresses associated with criminal entities such as dark-web black markets, thieves, or scammers, the researchers collected patterns of bitcoin transactions that led from one of those known bad actors to a cryptocurrency exchange where dirty crypto might be cashed out,” explains Greenberg. 

Popular Science

MIT researchers have developed a 3D printer that can use “unrecognizable printing materials in real-time to create more eco-friendly products,” reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science. The engineers “detailed a newly designed mathematical function that allows off-the-shelf 3D-printer’s extruder software to use multiple materials—including bio-based polymers, plant-derived resins, or other recyclables,” explains Paul.

Boston Magazine

A number of MIT faculty and alumni – including Prof. Daniela Rus, Prof. Regina Barzilay, Research Affiliate Haddad Habib, Research Scientist Lex Fridman, Marc Raibert PhD '77, former Postdoc Rana El Kaliouby and Ray Kurzweil '70 – have been named key figures “at the forefront of Boston’s AI revolution,” reports Wyndham Lewis for Boston Magazine. These researchers are “driving progress and reshaping the way we live,” writes Lewis.

TechCrunch

Birago Jones SM '12 and Karthik Dinakar SM '12, PhD '17 co-founded Pienso – an AI platform that “lets users build and deploy models without having to write code,” reports Kyle Wiggers for TechCrunch. “Pienso’s flexible, no-code interface allows teams to train models directly using their own company’s data,” says Jones. “This alleviates the privacy concerns of using … models, and also is more accurate, capturing the nuances of each individual company.”

Mashable

Mashable reporter Adele Walton spotlights Joy Buolamwini PhD '22 and her work in uncovering racial bias in digital technology. “Buolamwini created what she called the Aspire Mirror, which used face-tracking software to register the movements of the user and overlay them onto an aspirational figure,” explains Walton. “When she realised the facial recognition wouldn’t detect her until she was holding a white mask over her face, she was confronted face on with what she termed the ‘coded gaze.’ She soon founded the Algorithmic Justice League, which exists to prevent AI harms and increase accountability.”