Thursday, March 1, 2012

MIT Magic

"The Media Lab is a place where the future is lived, not imagined"

Graduate students and researchers at MIT's Media Lab are behind the production of products and technology that is changing our world. The MIT Media Lab is the institution responsible for inventing the electronic ink technology in the Amazon Kindle, Nook and other e-readers as well as the popular video game Guitar Hero. 

Granted, I could merely be impressed with the level of sophistication in these inventions, but I think those folks at MIT have figured out how to mass-produce creative output. The lab is home to about 140 students, MAS and Ph.D, to conduct research in a field where disciplines are less important than the collaborative ability of great minds. Along with undergraduate research assistants and permanent research teams, the lab is a veritable breeding ground for creativity. Started in 1985, the Media Lab was originally an initiative called the Architecture Machine Group under MIT's School of Architecture and Planning. Today it spans all manner of scientific and artistic disciplines and brings brilliant brains together to create solutions for the problems of tomorrow. This is yet another example of the combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that we discussed in relation to the Z-boys. 

Much of the creative output is devoted to advances in technology. From visual media to robots the Media Lab is making huge strides. One such department is working on projects that seek to learn "how to give computers human like intuition so they can better understand us" (!) Another project they worked on is this Dunk-O-Meter for the NBA All Star game Slam Dunk Contest. 

Someone even came up with an OPERA at the Media Lab.  The Chicago Opera Theater staged a production of "Death and the Powers" last spring. The opera was created and developed by Tod Machover and utilizes technology like "Couched in music that is ravishing and radical, Death and the Powers showcases visionary Media Lab performance technologies like Disembodied Performance, which translates Simon Powers’ offstage presence into an expressively animated stage, a musical Chandelier, and a chorus of robots." 

It is clear that the researchers at the Media Lab are obvious geniuses...MIT tends to attract those.  This fact made me think of the lecture from last week about cognitive neuroscience, and the correlations between brain activity and creativity. It would be interesting to so the studies on these individuals and compare them to the studies we talked about in class. Do the MIT researchers have a larger reading? is their intelligence measurable through their creative output? 

After reading through the website I started to think about the interaction of these creatives with their field, and how much of a "demand" there is for their creative products, how much of their "insight" moments come naturally or are provoked by the desires of others? The constant goal of "taking it to the next level" is very apparent in the research departments.  

1 comment:

  1. ALSO check this out:


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