MIT News


New leadership for MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab

MIT News

An expert in computer vision, machine learning, and human visual perception, Torralba is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a principal investigator at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. "As the inaugural MIT director of our collaboration with IBM, Antonio will closely collaborate with IBM leadership and lab researchers to design and implement the lab's ambitious research agenda," said Chandrakasan, who is also the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "I am delighted by the appointment of Antonio Torralba as MIT director of the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab," said Dario Gil, vice president of AI and IBM Q at IBM Research, who, along with Chandrakasan, oversees the MIT-IBM collaboration. Torralba and the IBM director will lead the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, a $240 million investment by IBM in AI efforts over the next 10 years, with $90 million dedicated to supporting MIT research.


Gene-editing technology developer Feng Zhang awarded $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize

MIT News

Feng Zhang, a pioneer of the revolutionary CRISPR gene-editing technology, TAL effector proteins, and optogenics, is the recipient of the 2017 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, the largest cash prize for invention in the United States. Prior to harnessing CRISPR-Cas9, Zhang engineered microbial TAL effectors (TALEs) for use in mammalian cells, working with colleagues at Harvard University, authoring multiple publications on the subject and becoming a co-inventor on several patents on TALE-based technologies. Zhang was also a key member of the team at Stanford University that harnessed microbial opsins for developing optogenetics, which uses light signals and light-sensitive proteins to monitor and control activity in brain cells. Zhang's numerous scientific discoveries and inventions, as well as his commitment to mentorship and collaboration, earned him the Lemelson-MIT Prize, which honors outstanding mid-career inventors who improve the world through technological invention and demonstrate a commitment to mentorship in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).


The Engine announces investments in first group of startups

MIT News

The Engine, founded last year by MIT, today announced investments its first group of seven startups that are developing innovations poised for transformative impact on aerospace, renewable energy, synthetic biology, medicine, and other sectors. To genetically engineer organisms, scientists expose cells to an electric field, which opens pores within the cell membrane, allowing customized DNA to flow into the cell. Buie and his Kytopen co-founder, MIT research scientist Paulo Garcia, developed a microfluidics device that shocks cells continuously. "Anyone in the energy industry will recognize that turning renewable energy into baseload electricity available all day, every day, is an extremely ambitious goal," Chiang says.


Analyzing the language of color

MIT News

In a new study, MIT cognitive scientists have found that languages tend to divide the "warm" part of the color spectrum into more color words, such as orange, yellow, and red, compared to the "cooler" regions, which include blue and green. Every language has this amazing similar ordering of colors, so that reds are more consistently communicated than greens or blues," says Edward Gibson, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences and the first author of the study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Sept. 18. Furthermore, chips that people tend to label consistently with just one word have a low surprisal rate, while chips that different people tend to label with different words have a higher surprisal rate. "In all languages, people preferentially bring color words into the warmer parts of the space and they don't bring them into the cooler colors."


Identifying optimal product prices

MIT News

Within six months of implementing the algorithm, it increased Rue La La's revenue by 10 percent. Simchi-Levi's process involves three steps for generating better price predictions: The first step involves matching products with similar characteristics to the products to be optimized. The second step requires testing a price against actual sales, and adjusting the product's pricing curve to match real-life results. For deals with fewer bookings per day than the median, the average increase in revenue was 116 percent, while revenue increased only 14 percent for deals with more bookings per day than the median.


Heather Kulik: Innovative modeling for chemical discovery

MIT News

Building on this foundation, Kulik has developed strategies for identifying potentially useful chemical materials and optimizing important properties such as spin state, chemical bonds and structure, and redox potential (the measure of a chemical's tendency to acquire electrons). Her research group published molSimplify, an open source software code that allows researchers a speedy way of generating potential transition metal complexes from building blocks. More recently, her team expanded the functionality of this code by incorporating a trained artificial neural network to predict the structure of a transition metal compound's properties, such as ground vs excited state and geometry. One venture involves creating a new generation of quantum dots, a material with useful electronic properties that emits bright light.


Young startups go full throttle

MIT News

From June to August each year, MIT delta v, hosted in the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, provides a cohort of startups with the wherewithal to launch: office and lab space for prototyping, mentorship from veteran entrepreneurs, $20,000 in funding, and $2,000 in living expenses. The diverse range of ideas included robots that analyze sewerage to track opioid consumption in populations, portable weight-lifting equipment that adjusts resistance in real time, a "Netflix" service for autonomous-vehicle data, augmented reality for recording and sharing knowledge of frontline workers in hospitals and care facilities, an online market that helps indigenous people digitize and sell their art, a battery for soldiers that recharges with fuel, cooking classes that donate meals to the needy, and advanced filtration systems that better remove heavy metals from drinking water. These milestones include partnerships and agreements with big-name companies, pilot programs, working prototypes or early product iterations, launched websites or apps, earned revenue, and -- perhaps most importantly -- customers. This year also saw the launch of a pilot program, the MIT NYC Summer Startup Studio, in New York City, where seven additional startups were offered the same perks that delta v provides.


3 Questions: Iyad Rahwan on the "psychological roadblocks" facing self-driving cars

MIT News

People won't buy the product, the economics won't work, and that's the end of the story. Q: What are the specific psychological issues people have with autonomous vehicles? People may overplay the risk of dying in a car crash caused by an autonomous vehicle even if autonomous vehicles are, on the average, safer. The carmaker has better knowledge of what the car thinks and how it behaves … which makes it more difficult for people to predict the behavior of autonomous vehicles, which can also dimish trust.


MIT map offers real-time, crowd-sourced flood reporting during Hurricane Irma

MIT News

As Hurricane Irma bears down on the U.S., the MIT Urban Risk Lab has launched a free, open-source platform that will help residents and government officials track flooding in Broward County, Florida. The Risk Map project is part of an ongoing collaboration between Broward County and the MIT Urban Risk Lab, which develops methods, prototypes, and technologies to embed risk reduction and preparedness into the design of cities and regions to increase the resilience of local communities. The MIT team aims to expand the map to new counties and add additional social media platforms in the near future. The Urban Risk Lab also piloted the system in Indonesia -- where the project is called PetaBencana.id, or "Map Disaster" -- during a large flood event on Feb. 20, 2017.


The test-free zone: An orientation guide to MIT Libraries

MIT News

They provide students with needed resources, subject-area experts who are happy to help, and friendly spaces where enjoying the quiet doesn't have to mean being alone. MIT's five library locations -- Barker, Dewey, Hayden, Lewis Music, and Rotch -- are interspersed throughout the campus. Sherratt is one of 25 subject experts available to support students, faculty, and researchers in advancing their work on every topic from aeronautics to urban studies. Library staff also have been collaborating with students and faculty on text and data-mining projects, collecting geographic data with drones, and creating an augmented reality experience in the Lewis Music Library.