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Economist

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.’”

TechCrunch

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.

National Geographic

MIT scientists have mapped out the web of a tropical tent-web spider and assigned each strand a tone audible to humans reports, Hicks Wogan for National Geographic. “We’re trying to give the spider a voice, and maybe someday, communicate with the arachnid via vibrations,” explains Prof. Markus Buehler.

Smithsonian Magazine

MIT researchers have been working to turn polyethylene plastics into woven fabrics, reports Smithsonian Magazine reporter Frederick Reimers. “We strongly believe that adoption of PE textiles will be very beneficial for the world from the sustainability standpoint,” says Principal Research Scientist Svetlana Boriskina tells Reimers. 

CNN

Astronaut Raja Chari SM ‘01 was among the four astronauts on the Crew-3 mission that departed Wednesday for a six-month science and research mission, reports CNN writer Jackie Wattles. “The research the Crew-3 astronauts will oversee includes an attempt to grow a ‘perfect crystal’ to enhance our understanding of biological processes, a test of the impact of diet on astronaut health, and the testing of a smartphone video guidance sensor for guidance, navigation, and control of the Astrobee free-flying robot,” explains Wattles.

The Washington Post

Prof. Julie Shah speaks with Washington Post reporter Tatum Hunter about whether AI technologies will ever surpass human intelligence. “Any positive or negative use or outcome of this technology isn't predetermined. We have a lot of choices that we make,” Shah says. “And these should not be decisions that are left solely to technologists. Everybody needs to be involved because this technology has such a broad impact on all of us.”

Forbes

Forbes contributor Bruce Y. Lee writes that MIT researchers have found that lack of sleep can affect a person’s gait and that catching up on sleep can improve gait control for those who are chronically sleep deprived. Lee writes that the findings demonstrate how, “lack of sleep may affect your ability to move your body and navigate in subtle ways.”

Reuters

Reuters reporter Nancy Lapid writes that researchers from MIT and other institutions have found that Covid-19 can infect cells in the inner ear, which “may help explain the balance problems, hearing loss and tinnitus, or ringing in the ears experienced by some COVID-19 patients.”

TechCrunch

Via Separations, a startup co-founded by Shreya Dave ’16 and Brent Keller ’16 after conducting research with MIT Professor Jeffrey Grossman, has announced a $38 million Series B led by NGP ETP, reports Ron Miller for TechCrunch. “Basically, our vision is if we can decarbonize that supply chain infrastructure, then we don’t have to rely on consumers having to make a decision between the thing that they want and how to do good for the planet” says Dave.  

WCVB

MIT Professor Badley Olsen speaks with WCVB-TV about his work identifying new ways to reuse rubbers and plastics. His research has allowed for fashion companies to produce sustainable and comfortable clothing and accessories for consumers. “You can both decrease the amount of petroleum you take out of the ground to make new materials and you can reduce the amount of waste. I think both of these are really important for the sustainability of our city and our society,” says Professor Olsen. 

The Guardian

A new study co-authored by MIT researchers finds that climate change is likely causing more extreme winter weather, reports Hallie Golden for The Guardian. The researchers found that changes in the Arctic brought on by climate change “actually increased the chances of tightly spinning winds above the North Pole, known as the Arctic stratospheric polar vortex, being stretched and thus boosting the chances of extreme weather events in the US and beyond.”

The Conversation

Writing for The Conversation, MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub Co-Director Randolph Kirchain and postdoctoral associate Hessam AzariJafari explore how building lighter-colored, more reflective roads could potentially help lower air temperatures and reduce heat waves. “As cities consider ways to combat the effects of climate change, we believe strategically optimizing pavement is a smart option that can make urban cores more livable,” they write.

Mashable

Mashable spotlights how MIT’s baseball pitching coach is using motion capture technology to help analyze and teach pitching techniques. Using the technology, Coach Todd Carroll can “suggest real-time adjustments as a player is pitching so that just one session using the technology improves their game.”

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater writes that MIT researchers have developed a new robotic finger, dubbed the Digger Finger, that can sense and identify objects underground. “It’s a useful skill that could someday be deployed for landmines, finding underground cables and a variety of other tasks.”

The Boston Globe

LiquiGlide, an MIT startup, has announced several new partnerships aimed at developing sustainable, zero-waste packaging solutions, reports Janelle Nanos for The Boston Globe. “LiquiGlide wants to fix one of life’s longstanding frustrations: trying to squeeze out the end of a toothpaste tube,” writes Nanos. “Since it’s often difficult to empty out sticky pastes, gels, and creams, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of those substances are discarded annually, still stuck to the insides of their containers.”