Joi Ito — Director of MIT Media Lab
APRIL 2, 2018 | 11:00 AM
In many ways, the most pressing issues of society today — increasing income disparity, chronic health problems, and climate change — are the result of the dramatic gains in higher productivity we’ve achieved with technology and science. The internet, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, crypto-currencies, and other technologies are providing us with ever more tools to change the world around us.
But there is a cost.
We’re now awakening to the implications that many of these technologies have for individuals and society. We can directly see, for instance, the effect artificial intelligence and the use of algorithms have on our lives, whether through the phones in our pockets or Alexa on our coffee table. AI is now making decisions for judges about the risks that someone accused of a crime will violate the terms of his pretrial probation, even though a growing body of research has shown flaws in such decisions made by machines. An AI program that set school schedules in Boston was scrapped after outcry from working parents and others who objected to its disregard of their schedules. …
Karole describes herself as a former “punk ballerina” and through dance and movement is able to connect so many interesting ideas and worlds. She’s already started to actively collaborate with a number of people at the Lab. In this conversation we discuss some of those collaborations as well as some new ideas.
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:
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 were scientifically sanctioned ideas, with outspoken advocates like Theodore Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, Winston Churchill and US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. The horror of the Holocaust, inspired by the eugenics movement, demonstrated the danger and devastation these programs can exact when put into practice. …
Andre and Karthik were both took the Principles in Awareness class that Tenzin Priyadarshi and I taught twice over the last few years. They both independently became interested in connecting the idea of non-duality and artificial intelligence. We’d been Slacking and chatting and thinking about the topic so I invited Andre over for lunch the other day and Skyped Karthik in from India and did a Facebook Live about the topic.
The next step is to write up a short post about the idea. :-)
I first met Virginia in 2015 when she and I were on a panel with Fareed Zarkaria at the Connecticut Forum. Late last year, she and Panio from Heleo reached out to see if I’d join Virginia in a conversation over Skype. Heleo “curates compelling, candid conversations between writers and thinkers about their work, research, and interests.” You can see their great summary of the conversation on their website.
Virginia and I had recently gotten each other’s books and a wide ranging but super-fun conversation ensued. It definitely left me excited to talk to Virginia again and expanded the perspective — thinking about the Internet in the context of art and design — that she covers in her book. We talk about the media, the Internet (yes, I still capitalize “Internet”), design, art, culture and many other things. …
I recently had a Facebook Live conversation with Shaka Senghor, a Media Lab Director’s Fellow and author. Shaka spent 19 years in prison for second-degree murder. In prison Shaka found a path to redemption initially through reading and then writing. I met him just after he had come out of prison. You can read more about this in the foreword to his book that I wrote.
Shaka’s an amazing leader, writer, inspiration and an important voice behind the fight against the systematic mass incarceration in the US.