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The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lby Frank Moss
Synopses & Reviews
If you've ever read a book on an e-reader, unleashed your inner rock star playing Guitar Hero, built a robot with LEGO Mindstorms, or ridden in a vehicle with child-safe air bags, then you've experienced first hand just a few of the astounding innovations that have come out of the Media Lab over the past 25 years. But that’s old hat for today’s researchers, who are creating technologies that will have a much deeper impact on the quality of people’s lives over the next quarter century.
In this exhilarating tour of the Media Lab's inner sanctums, we'll meet the professors and their students - the Sorcerers and their Apprentices - and witness first hand the creative magic behind inventions such as:
* Nexi, a mobile humanoid robot with such sophisticated social skills she can serve as a helpful and understanding companion for the sick and elderly.
* CityCar, a foldable, stackable, electric vehicle of the future that will redefine personal transportation in cities and revolutionize urban life.
* Sixth Sense, a compact wearable device that transforms any surface – wall, tabletop or even your hand - into a touch screen computer.
* PowerFoot, a lifelike robotic prosthesis that enables amputees to walk as naturally as if it were a real biological limb.
Through inspiring stories of people who are using Media Lab innovations to confront personal challenges - like a man with cerebral palsy who is unable to hum a tune or pick up an instrument yet is using an ingenious music composition system to unleash his “inner Mozart”, and a woman with a rare life-threatening condition who co-invented a revolutionary web service that enables patients to participate in the search for their own cures - we’ll see how the Media Lab is empowering us all with the tools to take control of our health, wealth, and happiness.
Along the way, Moss reveals the highly unorthodox approach to creativity and invention that makes all this possible, explaining how the Media Lab cultivates an open and boundary-less environment where researchers from a broad array of disciplines – from musicians to neuroscientists to visual artists to computer engineers - have the freedom to follow their passions and take bold risks unthinkable elsewhere.
The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices can serve as a blueprint for how to fix our broken innovation ecosystem and bring about the kind of radical change required to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It is a must-read for anyone striving to be more innovative as an individual, as a businessperson, or as a member of society.
Also includes 16 pages of color photos highlighting some of the lab's most visually stunning inventions - and the people who make them possible.
"In this boosterish but underwhelming prospectus, the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's storied Media Lab extols the avant-garde digital technologies erupting from his institution. Some of the projects he profiles, like better prosthetic limbs, are very worthwhile. Others, like a fork that warns you when you're eating too fast, seem trivial and annoying. And some, like digital instruments that let people with 'a complete lack of any Ã¢Â€Â˜natural musical talent'... experience the sheer joy of making music,' are clear public nuisances. (Guitar Hero was a Lab spinoff, the author boasts.) Moss celebrates Lab denizens' 'incredible passion' and insists, unconvincingly, that participatory corporate sponsorships (industry employees 'collaborate' with the academics) never nudge their 'total creative freedom' toward marketable gimmicks. In the background hovers his vision of a posthuman future that's half digital nanny-state, half nouveau-riche daydream for the techno-elite ('A chef in Beijing could work with a robotic partner in Boston to prepare a ten-course banquet in my kitchen'). Moss's hackneyed cheerleading doesn't dispel the impression that the Lab mainly generates overhyped mediocrity. Photos. (June 7)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book News Annotation:
Moss, former director of the MIT Media Lab and current director of its New Media Medicine group, offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the lab's "eclectic and eccentric" researchers have turned wildly innovative ideas and inventions into digital technologies that are changing our lives. He explores research areas as disparate as personal robots to tools to help the autistic. This book on the Media Lab's freewheeling style and its accomplishments will intrigue readers with an interest in innovation in any field. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
FRANK MOSS served as director of the MIT Media Lab from 2006-2011, and is currently Professor of the Practice and head of the New Media Medicine group there. After earning a BSE from Princeton and PhD in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, he held positions at IBM, Apollo Computer, Lotus Development and was CEO and chairman of Tivoli Systems, which he took public in 1995 and merged with IBM a year later. He is a co-founder of many companies, including Stellar Computer, Bowstreet, Infinity Pharmaceuticals and his latest startup venture, Bluefin Labs.
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