01 September 2014

Understanding MIT ~ Crafting Our Creative Place

My DUSP Campus Planning colleague Bob Simha and I are hosting our Understanding MIT seminar again this Fall 2014 every Tuesday afternoon 4-6pm starting next week September 9th to survey research universities and how they work, with the Institute as our live-case study. Each week, we invite a different senior academic, administrative, or trustee leader of MIT to share with us what they do to help the Institute stay vital in the short, medium, and long term -- and ask what we can do to be pro-active in improving MIT as well. This is part of my larger action-research agenda on understanding creative places and innovation ecosystems and is sister-class to our MIT Cities Initiative design workshop on Changing Cities.

Neurotechnology Ventures ~ Minds, Money, MIT

My MIT Media Lab colleague Ed Boyden and I are again co-hosting our Neurotechnology Ventures class this Fall 2014 at the Media Lab starting this Thursday afternoon September 4th from 2-4pm. This course is all about envisioning, planning, and building ventures -- both entrepreneurial startups and intrapreneurial product-lines or business units -- to bring neuroengineering innovations to the world. Compelling venture themes include Neuroimaging, Neuromarketing, Neurology/Psychiatry Screening & Diagnosis, Mood & Behavioral Influencing, Rehabilitation, Neurosurgery, Neuropharmacology, Brain Stimulation, Prosthetics, Sensory and Motor Augmentation, Regenerative Neuromedicine, Learning, Memory & Cognitive Influencing, and more.

Development Ventures ~ Solving Global Problems

My MIT colleague Alex (Sandy) Pentland and I are again hosting our Development Ventures action lab class this Fall 2014 at the Media Lab starting this Thursday September 4th from 10a-12noon, with special focus on frugal, DIY, and ultraffordable technologies as well as exponential innovations including mobiles, big data, and analytics. As always, we look forward to the latest new venture concepts our students propose -- in domains ranging from Health & Wellness, Energy & Sustainability, Education & Creativity, Commerce & Financial Services, Civic Engagement and beyond -- and we try to help the most motivated teams and promising ideas actually start and thrive!

Changing Cities ~ Prototype New Urban Systems

http://changingcities.orgI'm leading a module this Fall 2014 in the Changing Cities course taught by my MIT Media Lab colleagues Kent Larson and Ryan Chin, starting Wednesday, 3 September at 2pm, as part of our MIT Cities Initiative. We seek to move beyond so-called “Smart City” solutions that have focused on optimization rather than vital re-invention. This course will focus on how to design and prototype new urban systems to address the challenges of mobility, food, living & working, planning, and more through five “How to” modules:
  1. How to prototype autonomous, shared, electric mobility systems 
  2. How to prototype hyper-efficient, transformable spaces (robotic architecture) 
  3. How to prototype controlled environment urban food systems 
  4. How to realize computational urbanism using augmented tangible models 
  5. How to quantify innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative vitality in cities
Together with colleagues Daan Archer, Jennifer Saura, and Dan Harple, we're keen on #5 -- Our overarching goal is to seek better indices (or rankings or scores) and analyses of vitality in the city by tapping into novel datasets and new analytic approaches. Ultimately we aspire to compare and contrast not only cities and neighborhoods, as they exist today, but simulate how they might become as new urban systems and solutions are deployed.

Terra Incognita ~ Larsen's Epic Adventure Painting

Artist Bryan Larsen was commissioned to paint Terra Incognita, an epic adventure weaving youthful imagination and historic figures into a Martian future! Quent Cordair, purveyor of fine artworks, has kept everyone appraised of the painting in progress...
"The painting features famous inventors and discoverers such as Alan Turing, Rosalind Franklin, Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus and John Harrison. [And, of course, the] two little astronauts!"
Click through to see the full imagery (and also buy limited edition print) and read Larsen's progress reports! http://cordair.com/wordpress/inprogress?utm_source=Copy+of+Quent+Cordair+Fine+Art++-+Post+Earthquake&utm_campaign=Cordair&utm_medium=email

31 August 2014

Innovation Village ~ Kirsner Spots Ames Biz Park

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/08/30/somerville-new-hub-innovation-emerging-from-shuttered-factory/eSjH3odx0ysqX0ssae4zpJ/story.htmlThe Globe's Scott Kirsner spotlights the revitalized Somerville, MA Ames Business Park and its many creative tenants in his Innovation Economy column this Sunday...
"The obituary of the Ames Safety Envelope Company was written in February 2010. [...] Most of the equipment was sold at auction, and the factory went dark. [...] The descendants of Ames’ founder considered selling the property, but weren’t sure they could find a buyer. And they fretted over filling the 290,000-square-foot complex with tenants. “I thought it was an almost impossible task,” says Arthur Fitzgerald, grandson of the company’s founder, John W. Fitzgerald. Skip ahead four years: The final chunk of space in the Ames complex was leased this month. And what is now known as the Ames Business Park is not only fully occupied, it also has become the entrepreneurial epicenter of Somerville, home to a brewery, dozens of start-ups, [etc.] It’s a more diverse blend of people and ideas than you’d find in Kendall Square -- in part because rent is cheaper -- and it’s more densely-packed than Boston’s Innovation District. [...] Now, the question for Somerville is how to encourage similar “innovation villages” to spring up. What happened at the Ames complex was a rare confluence of empty industrial space, entities eager to fill it, and a light touch when it came to planning and marketing. [...] Ames, says [Somerville] Mayor Curtatone, “has really had an impact on our thinking as policy-makers about how to preserve such spaces, to allow for more startups and ideas to flourish in Somerville, and to grow that new economy in our city.” Magic can be hard to replicate -- but it’s worth trying."
http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/08/30/somerville-new-hub-innovation-emerging-from-shuttered-factory/eSjH3odx0ysqX0ssae4zpJ/story.html

30 August 2014

Limitless ~ Nootropic Enhancement SF Thriller

Thanks to entrepreneur friend Amir Hasson for pointing out Limitless science fiction movie exploring the prospect of nootropic smart pills...
"Aspiring author Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is suffering from chronic writer's block, but his life changes instantly when an old friend introduces him to NZT, a revolutionary new pharmaceutical that allows him to tap his full potential. With every synapse crackling, Eddie can recall everything he has ever read, seen or heard, learn any language in a day, comprehend complex equations and beguile anyone he meets -- as long as he keeps taking the untested drug."
Of course, things get complicated. See trailer...

More NL Junctions ~ Showing Before + After...

Mark Wagenbuur at BicycleDutch does a very nice before + after view of a busy intersection in Utrecht which has just been reconstructed and modernized. This is arguably the latest in Dutch cycling infrastructure and this video builds on his earlier illustrations of Dutch Junction and Safe Intersection design...
"There is a whole range of solutions for safer intersections, but for an urban area like this one -- with relatively narrow streets and a lot of traffic -- this design -- with protected cycleways all around the intersection -- is really best."

R.I.P. Hal Finney ~ Cryptocoder Extropian...

WIRED's Andy Greenberg writes Bitcoin’s Earliest Adopter Is Cryonically Freezing His Body to See the Future...
"Hal Finney, the renowned cryptographer, coder, and bitcoin pioneer, died Thursday morning at the age of 58 after five years battling ALS. He will be remembered for a remarkable career that included working as the number-two developer on the groundbreaking encryption software PGP in the early 1990s, creating one of the first “remailers” that presaged the anonymity software Tor, and -- more than a decade later -- becoming one of the first programmers to work on bitcoin’s open source code; in 2009, he received the very first bitcoin transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto. Now Finney has become an early adopter of a far more science fictional technology: human cryopreservation, the process of freezing human bodies so that they can be revived decades or even centuries later." [...] Fran Finney says that her husband had no illusions about the certainty of his resurrection. But until his final moments, he put his faith in the progress of technology. “He never said to me, ‘I will come back.’ But he told me, ‘I hope to be back.’"
Photographer Max Gerber captured Hal and Fran last year... http://www.wired.com/2014/08/hal-finney/

Until ~ Gibb asks Who Wants to Live For Ever?

io9's Robbie Gonzalez asks Do You Really Want To Live Forever? spotlighting Barry J Gibb's short film Until...
"[Life extension is] the biggest change confronting humanity in the 21st [Century] world; it's much bigger than climate change. Make no mistake, this is humanity's greatest success. It's not, as some people believe, an unfortunate experiment in human survival that has gone disastrously wrong – when you hear some people talk about The Burden of all these old people around you it feels like this is something we never wanted to happen. Well, of course we wanted it to happen, because people, actually, don't like dying."

Changing Seats ~ Nice Human Rights Promo;-)

Thanks to Calestous Juma for spotting this advert...

Mosquitos ~ Imaging Natural Hypodermic Hazards

28 August 2014

College Bound ~ Graduates Beating the Odds!

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/08/27/dorchester-college-bound-program-helps-troubled-students-follow-their-dreams/s1p7XyIy4UxAdDjGrmNy3H/story.htmlTodd Feathers of the Globe spotlights the very compelling Students who had been written off now heading to college...
"College Bound focuses its attention on those considered unlikely to succeed. They seek out dropouts, gang members, inmates, and others with setbacks in their past and aggressively push them toward college. [...] The paths taken by the students to reach Wednesday’s graduation ceremony are filled with heartbreak and hard choices. [Says rising graduate Sanjoana Fernandes-Centieo] “I am so proud about myself because I struggled so hard,” she said. “It’s not the end, it’s just one step to continue my education."
This is epic and I salute the graduates as well as their supporters!