I attended my first event in NYC and it was insightful | NYCML’18

Aimen Awan
Oct 7, 2018 · 4 min read

What is NYC Media Lab’18

Every year, NYC Media Lab hosts a summit where investors, professionals and students come together to present projects and ideas. This year’s NYC Media Lab Annual Summit was held at The New School on September 20th. There were thought-provoking debates, hands-on workshops and 100 demos. Attendees appeared thrilled to explore the future of digital media innovation.

Keynote speakers:

Keynote speakers were Thomas Reardon, CEO and CO-Founder of CTRL-Labs, and Maya Wiley, Senior Vice President for Social Justice and Co-director, Digital Equity Lab The New School.

Thomas Reardon in conversation with Satish Rao at NYCML’18

Reardon’s talk was the highlight of the event. It was very engaging and insightful. Reardon has received his PhD in Neuroscience from Columbia University. He discussed the huge gap between human input and human output. How neural interfaces can solve the output delay problems. He explained that muscles are causing delays in the output, and if we manage to read the mind, we can eliminate muscles from the process. He argued that capturing intention, not just motion and making it work, is the future. He also mentioned how this technology will help people with motor neuron diseases. After hearing his ideas, I am very excited to learn more about neural control and robotics.

Maya Wiley in conversation with Kai Falkenberg at NYCML’18

Wiley is a nationally renowned expert on racial justice and equality. She discussed that technology is driving policies and urged entrepreneurs to model their business to help low-income households. She highlighted the difficulties that low income, coloured neighbourhoods face. Her talk was insightful and made me think about the effects of technology on underprivileged populations.

Project Showcase

Project Showcase NYCML’18

Seven innovative startups presented their ideas and prototypes. Some notable projects that inspired me were:



Ovee is a project by Jane Mitchell and Courtney Snavely. It is a platform that creates a community that supports women as they navigate reproductive health issues. Ovee is my favourite project because I can relate to the problems it is addressing.

Jane Mitchell and Courtney Snavely presented Ovee

Let’s Make History

Let’s Make History

Lead team members of the project are Ilana Bonder and Hadar Ben-Tzur. In the mobile application of Let’s Make History, a user can travel back in time to Washington Square Park through augmented reality. Users can also join Wallace and June- two young activists on a 1968 spring day, in a cinematic experience.

Ilana Bonder and Hadar Ben-Tzur presenting Let’s Make History

The Secret Club

The Secret Club

A system developed by Rongxin Zhang, Kirollos Morkos and Yijia Wang, The Secret Club monitors sensitive news websites and stores backups of articles in a censorship-resistant network. The project can have significant value in authoritarian regimes where the public wants free access to information.

Rongxin Zhang and Kirollos Morkos presenting The Secret Club

The great synthetic media debate

NYCML hosted an interesting discussion on the future of synthetic media. For some, computer-generated images, videos, text and voices can be a source of entertainment and yet, the potential for danger is extraordinary. This debate was set to address the proposition, “synthetic media will do more good than harm,”. Ken Perlin, a professor in the Department of Computer Science at New York University and Eli Pariser, an Omidyar Fellow at New America Foundation were for the proposition, arguing that synthetic media will do more good than harm. Ambassador Karen Kornbluh, Senior Fellow for Digital Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and serves as a Governor on the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors and Matt Hartman, a partner at betaworks ventures were against the proposition, arguing that synthetic media will do more harm than good. This debate was moderated by Manoush Zomorodi, co-founder of Stable Genius Productions. Both teams presented solid arguments. In the end, I agreed with Karen Kornbluh and Matt Hartman that synthetic media has a potential to do more harm and it is important that we create policies accordingly.

Demo Expo

Some interesting projects from Demo Expo

100 emerging media and technology prototypes were displayed at the expo. It was an amazing experience for me. I was motivated by the astounding ideas presented by the students. It will be interesting to see how augmented and virtual reality are going to impact the world.

That’s me

Summit’s like NYCML’18 can bring people from the tech industry and academia together, to work towards a better future for humanity in this advanced technological world.

Aimen Awan

Written by

Studying Information Experience Design at Pratt Institute | A supporter of equality for everyone regardless of their genitals

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