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School of Architecture and Planning

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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.”

New York Times

New York Times reporter Conor Dougherty spotlights DUSP graduate student Nick Allen MS '17 and his work advocating for Land-value taxes (LVT) in distressed US cities.

Financial Times

Writing for the Financial Times, Prof. Carlo Ratti explores the concept of the “15-minute city,” which is aimed at creating walkable neighborhoods. “The 15-minute city must be paired with investment in transport between neighborhoods,” writes Ratti, noting that investment is especially needed in public transportation to ensure that 15-minute cities do not contribute to greater segregation.

USA Today

Prof. Carlo Ratti writes for USA Today about whether San Francisco is caught in a “doom loop,” a term that describes, “the city’s apparently unbreakable spiral of empty offices and unaffordable housing.” Ratti notes that “today’s crisis in the Bay Area could make room for new ideas to take hold faster than in other places. If the city seizes its moment, learning from its venture capital (VC) sector, San Francisco could also seize the future.”

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times reporter Brian Merchant spotlights Joy Buolamwini PhD '22 and her new book, “Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What is Human in a World of Machines.” “Buolamwini’s book recounts her journey to become one of the nation’s preeminent scholars and critics of artificial intelligence — she recently advised President Biden before the release of his executive order on AI — and offers readers a compelling, digestible guide to some of the most pressing issues in the field,” writes Merchant.

The Boston Globe

Joy Buolamwini PhD '22 speaks with Brian Bergstein of The Boston Globe’s “Say More” podcast about her academic and professional career studying bias in AI. “As I learned more and also became familiar with the negative impacts of things like facial recognition technologies, it wasn’t just the call to say let’s make systems more accurate but a call to say let’s reexamine the ways in which we create AI in the first place and let’s reexamine our measures of progress because so far they have been misleading,” says Buolamwini

Cipher

Cipher News editor Amy Harder spotlights the MIT Renewable Energy Clinic, a new course developed by Prof. Larry Susskind aimed at training students to be mediators in conflicts over clean energy projects. Harder notes that the course is focused on creating “collaboration that may slow down projects initially by incorporating more input but ultimately speed them up by avoiding later-stage conflicts.”

Popular Science

MIT researchers have developed a new programmable, shape-changing smart fiber called FibeRobo that can change its structure in response to hot or cold temperatures, reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science. “FibeRobo is flexible and strong enough to use within traditional manufacturing methods like embroidery, weaving looms, and knitting machines,” writes Paul. “With an additional ability to combine with electrically conductive threads, a wearer could directly control their FibeRobo clothing or medical wearables like compression garments via wireless inputs from a controller or smartphone.”

National Geographic

MIT researchers have designed a wearable ultrasound device that could help make breast cancer screening more accessible, reports Carrie Arnold for National Geographic.  “Early detection is the key for survival,” says Prof. Canan Dagdeviren. “Our humble calculation shows that this technology has the potential to save 12 million lives per year globally.”

The Boston Globe

Joy Buolamwini PhD '22 writes for The Boston Globe about her experience uncovering bias in artificial intelligence through her academic and professional career. “I critique AI from a place of having been enamored with its promise, as an engineer more eager to work with machines than with people at times, as an aspiring academic turned into an accidental advocate, and also as an artist awakened to the power of the personal when addressing the seemingly technical,” writes Buolamwini. “The option to say no, the option to halt a project, the option to admit to the creation of dangerous and harmful though well-intentioned tools must always be on the table.”

Foreign Policy

DUSP Lecturer Bruno Verdini PhD ’15 speaks with Jenn Williams of Foreign Policy’s “The Negotiators” podcast to discuss the 2012 Colorado River agreement between the United States and Mexico, and his book, “Winning Together: The Natural Resource Negotiation Playbook.” “If you are recognizing that the feedback loops in natural resource negotiations are going to be complex and unexpected as time goes by, you only have an ability to monitor, be flexible, and address new challenges if you’ve created a mechanism of trust, and in that mechanism implementation follows, even across different political perspectives,” says Verdini. “Because it is in your interest to keep complying.”

The Guardian

Roofscapes Studio, an MIT startup co-founded by Olivier Faber MArch ’23, Tim Cousin MArch ’23 and Eytan Levi MArch/MSRED ’21, transforms rooftops into greenspaces as part of an effort to combat climate change and provide green spaces in cities, reports Kim Willsher for The Guardian. The team is looking to add, “wooden platforms fixed across the sloping panes to create roof gardens, terraces and even walkways,” in Paris to help prevent the city from overheating. 

NPR

Prof. John Fernández, director of the Environmental Solutions Initiative, speaks with Aynsley O’Neill and Jenni Doering of NPR’s Living on Earth about steps homeowners and renters can take to reduce the risk of wildfires impacting their homes. “The most important thing is to reduce the fuel that’s available between your house and the beginning of the forest, reducing the amount of objects that could ignite,” says Fernández. “That includes outdoor furniture [or] any plastic material.” 

Bloomberg

In an article for Bloomberg, Prof. Carlo Ratti and Michael Baick, a staff writer at CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, highlight the importance of communication within cities. “The world has an incredible stockpile of effective urban policies, but the best ideas are not being adopted quickly or widely enough,” write Ratti and Baick. “Covid-19 taught us all how to slow the spread of viruses: wear masks, avoid large gatherings and take vaccines. To speed the spread of good ideas, we need to take the opposite tack by making urban solutions go viral.”

Scientific American

Researchers at MIT have designed “a wearable ultrasound scanner that could be used at home to detect breast tumors earlier,” reports Simon Makin for Scientific American. “The researchers incorporated the scanner into a flexible, honeycombed 3-D-printed patch that can be fixed into a bra,” explains Makin. “The wearer moves the scanner among six different positions on the breast, where it snaps into place with magnets, allowing reproducible scanning of the whole breast.”