Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the Science Category

Edge Question 2017 : What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely know? A: Neurodiversity »

John Brockman's EDGE asks a tough question every year. For 2017 the question was "What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely know?" My answer was: Neurodiversity Humans have diversity in neurological conditions. While some, such as autism are considered disabilities, many argue that they are the result of normal variations in the human genome. The neurodiversity movement is an international civil rights movement that argues that autism shouldn't be "cured" and that it is an authentic form of human diversity that should be protected. In the early 1900s eugenics and the sterilization of people considered genetically inferior...

Conversation with Ocean Explorer Katy Croff Bell »

Conversation with National Geographic Explorer and MIT Media Lab Director's Fellow, Katy Croff Bell about oceans, deep sea exploration and Nautilus Live. Audio available on iTunes and SoundCloud....

Conversation with Kevin Esvelt about CRISPR Gene Drive and Whiplash »

Talking to Media Lab faculty member, Kevin Esvelt who runs the Sculpting Evolution group about his work in developing safe and ethical ways to deploy technologies like CRISPR gene drive. He is currently working in Nantucket with communities there to have a conversation about how to move research and deployment forward to try to eradicate Lyme disease. We talk about his work and how it connects with Whiplash. Audio available on iTunes and SoundCloud....

Safecast Conversation with Sean and Pieter from Safecast about Whiplash »

Conversation with my Safecast co-founders, Sean Bonner and Pieter Frank about Whiplash and citizen science. Safecast is an international, volunteer-centered organization devoted to open citizen science for the environment. After the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, accurate and trustworthy radiation information was publicly unavailable. Safecast was formed in response, and quickly began monitoring, collecting, and openly sharing information on environmental radiation and other pollutants, growing quickly in size, scope, and geographical reach. Our mission is to provide citizens worldwide with the...

Hundreds of MIT Faculty Members Sign Statement Upholding the Value of Science and Diversity »

Over 300 400 members of the MIT faculty, including myself, have signed the statement below. (You can see all the signers on the mitvalues.org page.) My quote included in a press release issued this afternoon was: "Academic institutions have historically been havens to protect diversity of opinions and the freedom to express those opinions when the political climate has impinged on this freedom. It appears that we are entering a period where the political climate requires us to assert our leadership to protect and foster diversity and scientific inquiry itself." The President-elect has appointed individuals to positions of power who...

Conversation with Danny Hillis »

Danny Hillis is the inventor of the Connection Machine, Co-Founder of the Long Now Foundation and visiting professor at the Media Lab. We were at a dinner recently where Danny asserted that the world could be simulated by a computer. I asked him to come to my office so I could extract this idea from him into a video. We talked about the ability to simulate the universe digitally which obviously leads into the future of artificial intelligence, quantum physics, "why are we here" and lots of other interesting questions. Apologies for the crappy sound and video. My default...

Conversation with Bob Langer »

Bob is the most cited engineer in the history of the world. He is an MIT Institute Professor (there are usually only 12). He is also (lucky for me), a friend and a great mentor of mine since I met him in 2013 at my first Red Sox game with David Lucchino who introduced us and invited us to the game. Bob is a great example and mentor for so many people. I recently got a chance to catch up with him and hear about his story and talk about things like peer review and the future of science....

Kevin Esvelt joins the Media Lab »

Kevin Esvelt accepted our offer and will be joining us in January as an assistant professor heading his new Sculpting Evolution research group. Kevin is a Harvard-trained biologist who is merging some of the newest techniques in molecular biology with ecological engineering. He contributed to the development of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology, and was responsible for revealing the possibility of CRISPR gene drives. CRISPR gene drives allow us to edit the genomes of existing organisms and force all subsequent offspring to inherit the alteration. This could, for instance, allow us to release mosquitoes into the wild and over time...

Antidisciplinary »

One of the first words that I learned when I joined the Media Lab was "antidisciplinary." It was listed an a requirement in an ad seeking applicants for a new faculty position. Interdisciplinary work is when people from different disciplines work together. An antidisciplinary project isn't a sum of a bunch of disciplines but something entirely new - the word defies easy definition. But what it means to me is someone or something that doesn't fit within traditional academic discipline­­­-a field of study with its own particular words, frameworks, and methods. Most academics are judged by how many times...

Hearing conservation and earphones »

Today I met the founder and president of Sensaphonics, Michael Santucci. He is a hearing conservation expert and audiologist. He is one of the few audiologists who work with the music industry. The relationship is interesting. Hearing conservation is about protecting your ears from continued exposure to loud sounds in order to preserve your hearing. He told us that baby boomers have a higher rate of hearing loss than senior citizens, probably because of devices such as portable music devices. He shows us pictures of a healthy inner ear and a damaged inner ear and had the same effect on...

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics »

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics THE NOBLE CAUSE Technonerds go to movies strictly for entertainment, and of course, the most entertaining part comes after the movie when they can dissect, criticize, and argue the merits of every detail. However, when supposedly serious scenes totally disregard the laws of physics in blatantly obvious ways it's enough to make us retch. The motion picture industry has failed to police itself against the evils of bad physics. This page is provided as a public service in hopes of improving this deplorable matter. The minds of our children and their ability to master vectors are...

Einstein on intellect and personality »

Albert Einstein'We should take care not to make the intellect our god; - it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.' via JV...

Why the rover failed... »

In case you were wondering why the rover failed... movie via Markoff...

Lunch, the universe and everything with Seth Lloyd »

John Brockman, literary agent extraordinaire and editor/publisher of Edge introduced me to Seth Lloyd via good old fashioned email. I had lunch with Seth today. Seth is known for his seminal works in the area of quantum computing and is visiting Japan for a year. We talked a bit about Japan, but I jumped at the opportunity to talk to him about some of the loftier things that are puzzling me these days. My first love was physics, but I dropped out when college physics turned out to be more about math than the art of physics. I'm now a...

Sir Martin Rees on global warming and other things »

I sat next to Sir Martin Rees at dinner last night. He is the Royal Astronomer of the UK and the Master of Trinity College. I met him last year at the same dinner. He's amazingly smart and funny. Ever since I'd posted my entry on aviation and global warming, I've been trying to figure out how to get to the bottom of this issue. The journalists told me that they just cited experts and the trick was to find good experts. I figured Sir Martin Rees would probably have an educated and balanced view. Sir Martin Rees told me...

Air travel and global warming »

Scott Mackinney criticizes me in a comment on my blog about the damage I am causing to the environment with all of my air travel. I actually have been feeling a bit guilty about that and have been wondering where aviation is going to go from here. On the one hand, in some areas, air travel is becoming cheaper and there are even people talking about small, low-cost private planes becoming more common. A Feb 2000 GAO report warns that the damage to the environment from the emissions from aviation is particularly high because it is emitted into the upper...

The space program should continue »

As I read some great comments by Dan Gillmor, Dave Winer and other bloggers about the shuttle tragedy, I was reminded about the story of one of the first Japanese submarines. Japan was doing research on submarines, but one of the first trials went terribly wrong. The submarine sank to the bottom of the ocean and the men began to die as oxygen was depleted. They recovered the diary of the captain of the ship. In the diary, the captain pleads to the government and the people of Japan to continue the research and not allow the failure of the mission to slow it down. The diary is quite moving. I bet that if the crew of the space shuttle had had the time to write, they probably would have written something similar.

Davos Nanotechnology Panel »

Yesterday I attended a panel about Nanotechnology. Paul Saffo was the moderator and Howard C. Birndorf of Nanogen, Mildren S. Dresselhaus of MIT and John Gage of Sun were on the panel. You could tell from the beginning that it was going to be a really difficult panel for Paul to manage. The topic was difficult, there were PhD's, investors and mildly interested CEO's of big companies in the audience. It was also clear that everyone on the panel had their own opinion about what they wanted to say. Paul tried to structure the discussion from a discussion about scale (Gage went into a description of powers of ten) to a technology discussion. I think he wanted wrap up with a discussion about applications. It sort of worked.
Whiplash by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe
Freesouls by Joi Ito

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