3D printed origami robots that crawl and grab when activated by magnets

A team at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have created a set of foldable, 3D printed robots that are doped with magnetic particles that are precisely aligned during printing; when triggered by a control-magnet they engage in precise movements: grabbing, jumping, rolling, squeezing, etc. Read the rest

3D printing arbitrary shapes without sprues, by embedding them in 3D-printed clear plastic

3D printing complex shapes is hard; the additive nature of most 3D printing means that the printer has to create sprues (struts that support parts of the structure during printing, which have to be removed later), or add in material that can be dissolved in a solvent bath after main production. Read the rest

Lecture videos from MIT's "The Human Brain" undergrad course

MIT 9.11, "The Human Brain," is taught by Nancy Kanwisher, the Walther A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, MIT; Kanwisher is an engaging and lively science communicator and has posted videos of the complete course lecture series for your perusal; her own speciality is neuroimaging, and the introductory lecture is a fascinating (and, at times, terrifying) tale of her colleague's neurological condition and what she learned from it. (via Four Short Links) Read the rest

Podcast: Petard, Part 03

Here's the third part of my reading (MP3) of Petard (part one, part two), a story from MIT Tech Review's Twelve Tomorrows, edited by Bruce Sterling; a story inspired by, and dedicated to, Aaron Swartz -- about elves, Net Neutrality, dorms and the collective action problem.

MP3 Read the rest

The MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award: $250K for "disobedience for the benefit of society"

For the second year in a row, the MIT Media Lab is giving out a no-strings-attached cash award of $250,000 for "disobedience" that benefits society; the prize is a reaction to MIT's shameful historic instances of throwing disobedient researchers under the bus, from Aaron Swartz to Star Simpson to bunnie Huang. Read the rest

Ampli: A construction set for medical diagnostics

Our team of researchers at MIT’s Little Devices Lab have developed a pocket sized laboratory for biology that allows anyone to invent and deploy rapid diagnostics to detect diseases like Zika and Dengue, as well as everyday biomarkers like cholesterol. Using plug and play reaction blocks, it can be as easy as snapping Legos together. The current approach to developing diagnostic tools involves shipping out samples to faraway labs for the development of tests that take too long and cost too much - but what would happen if everyone could have the tools they needed to design and make diagnostics? If the ability to diagnose disease was directly in the hands of those who most needed it?

Announcing "Petard," a new science fiction story reading on my podcast

Here's the first part of my reading (MP3) of Petard, a story from MIT Tech Review's Twelve Tomorrows, edited by Bruce Sterling; a story inspired by, and dedicated to, Aaron Swartz -- about elves, Net Neutrality, dorms and the collective action problem. Read the rest

MIT students create and circulate open source, covert RFID rings to subvert campus tracking system

A reader writes, "A couple years ago MIT changed their dorm security/student tracking policy. They hired security contractors to work in dorms and required everyone to tap their RFID cards upon entry (no vouching for friends/guests). Most students complied. Some moved out. Some got in trouble ;)" Read the rest

Behind the production of a single piece of aircraft landing-gear

Sara from MIT Sloan Management Review writes: "Our new (and free) eight-part documentary video series examines a revolutionary new manufacturing approach — the digital thread." Read the rest

Nominations open for $250,000 MIT Media Lab prize for Disobedient Research

Last summer, the MIT Media Lab announced its $250,000 prize for Disobedient Research, and now the nominations process has launched. Read the rest

Mathematics for Computer Science: a free, CC-licensed MIT textbook

This is indeed an up-to-the-minute text [PDF], dated Mar 7, 2017. It's written by Googler/MIT prof Eric Lehman, MIT/Akamai scientist F Thomson Leighton and MIT AI researcher Albert R Meyer, as a companion to their Mathematics for Computer Science open course. (via 4 Short Links) Read the rest

Accelerando: once you teach a computer to see, it can teach itself to hear

In SoundNet: Learning Sound Representations from Unlabeled Video, researchers from MIT's computer science department describe their success in using software image-recognition to automate sound recognition: once software can use video analysis to decide what's going on in a clip, it can then use that understanding to label the sounds in the clip, and thus accumulate a model for understanding sound, without a human having to label videos first for training purposes. Read the rest

Using machine-learning to auto-gen scary faces and hauntify buildings

The Nightmare Machine is an MIT project to use machine learning image-processing to make imagery for Hallowe'en. Read the rest

Nightwork: the extraordinary, exuberant history of rulebreaking at MIT

MIT has a complicated relationship with disobedience. On the one hand, the university has spent more than a century cultivating and celebrating a "hacker culture" that involves huge, ambitious, thoughtful and delightful pranks undertaken with the tacit approval of the university. On the other hand -- well, on the other hand: Star Simpson, Bunnie Huang, and Aaron Swartz. In Nightwork, first published in 2003 and updated in 2011, MIT Historian T. F. Peterson explores this contradictory relationship and celebrates the very best, while suggesting a path for getting rid of the very worst.

MIT Media Lab announces $250,000 "Rewarding Disobedience" prize

Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman has bankrolled an experimental, one-time prize of $250,000 that the Media Lab will award for research that harnesses "responsible, ethical disobedience aimed at challenging the norms, rules, or laws that sustain society’s injustices?" Read the rest

As browsers decline in relevance, they're becoming DRM timebombs

My op-ed in today's issue of The Tech, MIT's leading newspaper, describes how browser vendors and the W3C, a standards body that's housed at MIT, are collaborating to make DRM part of the core standards for future browsers, and how their unwillingness to take even the most minimal steps to protect academics and innovators from the DMCA will put the MIT community in the crosshairs of corporate lawyers and government prosecutors. Read the rest

MIT Media Lab will default to permitting student code to be free/open

Historically, MIT Media Lab students who released their work under free/open licenses had to get approval from a committee (that always granted it). Read the rest

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