Could MIT reinvent itself with an ‘ethical’ approach to AI?

Just in time, as the field of AI ramps up. (Also by some coincidence, a week after the cover story in LMD.)

MIT has just announced it will add a new college, the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, dedicated to world-changing breakthroughs in AI, and their ethical application. The college will “reorient MIT” to add 50 new faculty positions, and give  students in every discipline an opportunity to develop and apply AI and computing technologies.

The term ‘ethical’ keeps popping up these days in relation to Artificial Intelligence. MIT expands on this, saying it will “examine the anticipated outcomes of advances in AI and machine learning, and to shape policies around the ethics of AI.” As I have mentioned elsewhere, most experts (from Elon Musk, to Bill Gates to Berners-Lee aside) agree that we are just at the tadpole stage of the life-cycle of AI.

However, some, such as sci-fi writer, Isaac Asimov and even Stephen Hawking have had concerns. Hawking, for instance remarked that “we all have a role to play in ensuring that we and the next generation have the determination to engage with science … and create a better world for the whole human race.” MIT seems to be the first large institution to take up this mantle, and in the process, redefine and re-invent its role in education.

When space exploration looks like Sci-Fi

One part Star Wars and two parts Arthur C. Clarke, one of the new things being tested in space is something called ‘Spheres.’

It is the name for three small “free-flying satellites” on board the International Space Station. Students in middle school have been getting involved in using SPHERES (which is an acronym for ‘Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellite’) in micro-gravity experiments. One of the goals of SPHERES has been to see if these small satellites could one day solve the problem of space debris, apart from other future space missions.













Arthur C Clarke was the earliest proponent of communication satellites. His 1945 Proposal was on Geostationary Satellite Communications. This March would be the 10th anniversary of Clarke’s passing.

A smarter Easy Button called Twine!

John Kestner reminds me of Steve Wozniak. He’s always tinkering with a gizmo that could potentially change lifestyles, even incrementally.

There was the Tableau, a coffee-table-like device that was a connected dashboard for your home. Basically an ‘anti-computer experience’.

There was his digital wallet –not a new idea, but it was packed with easy-to-figure out features. You could see his ideas here.

But this latest one, also developed at the MIT lab with co-inventor David Carr, is called Twine. It is a potential killer app, to use the term a bit loosely. It is, in their words, a way for people who don’t know how to program or solder, to be able to listen in on your (digital and analog) world, and talk to the web.

John and David are looking for funding, and on Kickstarter, have already raised over $556,00. Take a look, listen to the simplicity of how it works. I’m not saying all of us want to be this connected, or need to talk to the web.

BUT, if this is just the first iteration, it could end up simplifying anything from digital due diligence (painstakingly carried out with expensive software), to becoming security sensors (miniaturized and embedded in shipment containers). Or, who knows it could be a plug and play box from Best Buy that makes the average soccer mum –the ones who don’t yet know PHP or HTML5– less complicated.

If only there was an Easy button for raising capital!

Twine : Listen to your world, talk to the Internet from Supermechanical on Vimeo.