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Preview: Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's Web



Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.



Updated: 2016-12-06T23:28:55Z

 



Report from Marrakech

2016-12-06T23:28:55Z

By Feliciano Guimarães from Guimarães, Portugal (Patterns Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Last week, I was invited to join a kind of alternative conference running alongside COP22 in Marrakech. Unlike COP22, which was governments and... By Feliciano Guimarães from Guimarães, Portugal (Patterns Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Last week, I was invited to join a kind of alternative conference running alongside COP22 in Marrakech. Unlike COP22, which was governments and NGOs in green rooms and blue rooms negotiating policy and agreements, the meeting I attended was a "Do-Fest," a collection of action-oriented people gathering to figure out what we can do without waiting for permission or incentives. With galleys of Whiplash and a refurbished violin in hand, I headed off to the meeting to give a presentation in the first session, looking at climate change through the lens of The Principles and some of the new work around design and science that we are doing at the Media Lab. Here's what I said. One of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo is a place called Okame. It is a tempura place in Tsukiji. The famous film director, Akira Kurosawa, is rumored to have frequented the place, among many other well-known Tokyo celebrities. It is a small house-like building with two guest rooms, each with a tempura fryer and a counter for guests. The chef and the son of the chef who was running the place when I first started eating there goes between the two rooms frying tempura for the guests. The place is run by the family and to this day, I don't think they have any outside help. I once asked the chef why he didn't open another branch since it was so popular. In response, he asked me why he would ever want to do that. He is happy, he doesn't have to manage outside help, he gets to spend time with his favorite clients and everything is just right. I realized after asking the question that I was interjecting the values of the community in which I live -- the industrial culture of "growth is good." Another favorite restaurant of mine in Japan is a sushi place which I can't tell you too much about, because they prohibit their customers from promoting the restaurant. In fact, the restaurant always says "closed" and they are really selective with their customers. The father of the current chef used to run a very famous and popular sushi bar in Ginza, but he became unhappy with the glitzy customers and also hated having to pay high rent -- money that didn't go towards better ingredients -- so he moved the restaurant to a secluded neighborhood and they have been running the place in a rather secretive way ever since. I've been going there since I was a teenager. Every time I go, we talk about this fish or that fish that is no longer available. Some of my favorite fish that I used to get second helpings of are now rare. The last time I went, I had a particular type of Japanese char, and the chef told me it was likely to be the last time I would ever eat it. I thought about how, in my lifetime, almost all of the fish that I've eaten here may become unavailable and what we currently know as sushi could disappear. I realized that the values that caused me to ask the chef at Okame whether he was going to open another branch were the same values that might end up closing down my favorite sushi bar. I work with a monk named Tenzin. He doesn't have a home. He owns nearly nothing. When we were hiring him to work at the Media Lab, he asked for no salary. MIT said that he couldn't "work" without being paid. He asked for a dollar. MIT insisted that they had to pay minimum wage. To Tenzin, more than enough is too much. He is also one of happiest people that I know. His happiness comes from intrinsic motivators and not from a love of growth and external measurements. I'm an investor in a company called Kickstarter. I'm sure most of you have heard of it. A few years ago, Kickstarter announced that instead of taking t[...]



My first visit to Kuwait to receive award for MIT

2016-11-30T18:54:02Z

I visited Kuwait November 20 and 21 to accept an award from the Emir of the State of Kuwait on behalf of MIT. The award was for "the extraordinary role of the Media Lab in creativity and innovation of science...

I visited Kuwait November 20 and 21 to accept an award from the Emir of the State of Kuwait on behalf of MIT. The award was for "the extraordinary role of the Media Lab in creativity and innovation of science and technology." Last year, Bill Gates won the award.
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This is the inscription on the award: "H.H. Sheikh Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah Informatics Award has named Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) -USA- the recipient of the Informatics Badge of Honor for the extraordinary role of the Media Lab in creativity and innovation of science and technology during its 16th annual awarding ceremony under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Emir of the State of Kuwait and the humanitarian leader."

The hosts were amazingly gracious and I really enjoyed meeting everyone. Thank you so much for the honor as well as for the hospitality and the engaging conversations. Very excited to visit again.

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On November 30, 2016, last night, I presented the award to the MIT Corporation Chairman, Robert Millard, and congratulated him and MIT.

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Hundreds of MIT Faculty Members Sign Statement Upholding the Value of Science and Diversity

2016-11-30T22:00:34Z

Over 300 400 members of the MIT faculty, including myself, have signed the statement below. (You can see all the signers on the mitvalues.org page.) My quote included in a press release issued this afternoon was: "Academic institutions have historically...

Over 300 400 members of the MIT faculty, including myself, have signed the statement below. (You can see all the signers on the mitvalues.org page.) My quote included in a press release issued this afternoon was:

"Academic institutions have historically been havens to protect diversity of opinions and the freedom to express those opinions when the political climate has impinged on this freedom. It appears that we are entering a period where the political climate requires us to assert our leadership to protect and foster diversity and scientific inquiry itself."

The President-elect has appointed individuals to positions of power who have endorsed racism, misogyny and religious bigotry, and denied the widespread scientific consensus on climate change. Regardless of our political views, these endorsements violate principles at the core of MIT's mission. At this time, it is important to reaffirm the values we hold in common.

We, the undersigned faculty at MIT, thus affirm the following principles:

  • We unconditionally reject every form of bigotry, discrimination, hateful rhetoric, and hateful action, whether directed towards one's race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, citizenship, political views, socioeconomic status, veteran status, or immigration status.

  • We endorse MIT's values of open, respectful discourse and exchange of ideas from the widest variety of intellectual, religious, class, cultural, and political perspectives.

  • We uphold the principles of the scientific method, of fact- and reason-based objective inquiry. Science is not a special interest; it is not optional. Science is a foundational ingredient in how we as a society analyze, understand, and solve the most difficult challenges that we face.

For any member of our community who may feel fear or oppression, our doors are open and we are ready to help. We pledge to work with all members of the community - students, faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and administrators - to defend these principles today and in the times ahead.

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Conversation with Peter Seligmann, the Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Conservation International

2016-11-30T22:07:19Z

I met Peter in Marrakech at a private meeting that he and others had organized during COP22. Peter is Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Co-founder of Conservation International, one of the most effective conservation efforts I know of. I caught...

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I met Peter in Marrakech at a private meeting that he and others had organized during COP22. Peter is Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Co-founder of Conservation International, one of the most effective conservation efforts I know of. I caught up with him on Thanksgiving after we were both back in the US.

We talked about biodiversity, COP22, sustainability, conservation, indigenous people, climate change, complex systems and the theory of change.

The audio is available on SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Conversations with Christopher Filardi

2016-11-26T12:26:47Z

I met Christopher Filardi in Marrakech at a conference running along side of COP22. He's an evolutionary biologist and a conservation activist. I was fascinated with his description of the role of indigenous people in conservation. I recorded a...

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I met Christopher Filardi in Marrakech at a conference running along side of COP22. He's an evolutionary biologist and a conservation activist. I was fascinated with his description of the role of indigenous people in conservation. I recorded a short conversation that I had with him over Skype when I was in a lounge in Dubai Airport and he was at his home in Montana. Apologies for the poor quality of the video and audio.

The audio is available on iTunes.

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Conversation with Robleh Ali, former head of the Digital Currencies team at the Bank of England

2016-11-30T08:50:24Z

A conversation with Robleh Ali, the former head of the the Digital Currencies team at the Bank of England. It was a wide ranging conversation about Bitcoin, economics and the role of central banks and regulators. Audio of the...

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A conversation with Robleh Ali, the former head of the the Digital Currencies team at the Bank of England. It was a wide ranging conversation about Bitcoin, economics and the role of central banks and regulators.

Audio of the conversation is available on SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Conversation with The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi about Disciplined Compassion

2016-11-26T12:11:05Z

Had a conversation with The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi about disciplined compassion. You can find the audio on SoundCloud and iTunes....

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Had a conversation with The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi about disciplined compassion. You can find the audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Jamila and Alia from The Albert Einstein Institution

2016-11-26T12:08:03Z

Tenzin and sat down with Jamila and Alia from the Albert Einstein Institute to have a conversation about nonviolent action. You can find the audio on SoundCloud as well as on iTunes....

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Tenzin and sat down with Jamila and Alia from the Albert Einstein Institute to have a conversation about nonviolent action.

You can find the audio on SoundCloud as well as on iTunes.

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Conversation with Isha Datar from New Harvest

2016-11-25T11:23:54Z

This year, the Shuttleworth Foundation asked me to be the honorary steward of the September 2016 fellowship intake. This meant that I would help review and recommend the people who would receive the Shuttleworth Fellowship which funds the fellow's...

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This year, the Shuttleworth Foundation asked me to be the honorary steward of the September 2016 fellowship intake. This meant that I would help review and recommend the people who would receive the Shuttleworth Fellowship which funds the fellow's salary as well as their project up to $250,000. It's one of the most interesting and successful fellowship programs that I know for funding unique, provocative and unconventional individuals and their ideas. I'm a huge fan.

We saw some great applications and I was really happy with the three fellows selected for the round that I worked on, Achal, Isha and Ugo. Through the process I got to know their work quite well and I was excited to get a chance to meet Isha when I was in New York last week.

Isha Datar works on cellular agriculture research, the science of growing animal projects in cell cultures instead of farmed herds. It's a very new field with a lot of challenges including questions about how to make non-animal based nutrient systems, how to make it taste good, how to make it energy efficient, how to scale it, etc. At her non-profit organization New Harvest, Isha is working on the core research as well as funding and coordinating research across the world. What's exciting and important to me is that she's decided to do this in an open source and collaborative non-profit way because she and her colleagues believe that the field is still very early and that it would be advanced most effectively through this non-profit structure.

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Neha Narula, Research Director of MIT Digital Currency Initiative

2016-09-18T20:05:08Z

Neha Narula wrote a post on Medium last Monday about the MIT Digital Currency Initiative at the Media Lab (DCI) and her new role as the Research Director. Also on Monday, TED posted her talk on the future of...

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Neha Narula wrote a post on Medium last Monday about the MIT Digital Currency Initiative at the Media Lab (DCI) and her new role as the Research Director. Also on Monday, TED posted her talk on the future of money, which I think is one of clearest "what is Bitcoin" explanations I've seen. I saw her a few days later and did a Facebook Live conversation with her which I've uploaded to YouTube, SoundCloud and iTunes.

Neha has been working as a member of the DCI for awhile now, but in this new role, she will drive the technical research agenda of the DCI and help coordinate research inside of MIT as well as in other academic institutions and in the broader community. She comes with a solid technical background with a PhD from MIT in distributed systems and previously as a software engineer at Google. Neha and the DCI have already been actively engaged in research, development and teaching in digital currencies, blockchain and related fields, but with Neha's leadership, I'm hoping that we can continue to ramp these efforts up as well as increase collaboration and engagement.

Neha lead the creation of a website for the DCI where you can learn about some of the projects and people involved. Also, as I wrote in a Medium post on September 6, Brian Forde, the director of the DCI will be transitioning out of that role.

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The "there goes the neighborhood" Law

2016-09-30T10:28:08Z

There seems to be some sort of general rule that technologies and systems like conversations on the Internet, the US democracy (and its capture by powerful financial interests), the Arab Spring movement and many other things that were wonderfully optimistic...

There seems to be some sort of general rule that technologies and systems like conversations on the Internet, the US democracy (and its capture by powerful financial interests), the Arab Spring movement and many other things that were wonderfully optimistic and positive at the beginning seem to begin to regress and fail as they scale or age. Most of these systems seem to evolve into systems that are resistant to redesign and overthrow as they adapt like some sophisticated virus or cancer. It's related to but harder to fix than the tragedy of the commons.

I want to write a longer post trying to understand this trend/effect, but I was curious about whether there was some work already in understanding this effect and whether there was already a name for this idea. If not, what we should call it, assuming people agree that it's a "thing"?

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Conversation with Adafruit

2016-09-14T02:38:14Z

I recently visited and had a conversation with Limor "Lady Ada" Fried and Phil Torrone of Adafruit. I first met them about ten years ago at SxSW. Limor is an MIT grad that we're super-proud of and Phil is...

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I recently visited and had a conversation with Limor "Lady Ada" Fried and Phil Torrone of Adafruit. I first met them about ten years ago at SxSW.

Limor is an MIT grad that we're super-proud of and Phil is an amazing pioneer in communications, hacking and many other things. Phil and Limor are two of my most favorite people and I aways get giddy just getting a chance to hang out with them. We discussed making, electronics, business, manufacturing, hacking, live video and more.

They've been doing live video daily for the last 10 years or so and are real pioneers in this medium as well. We used their setup to stream the video to Facebook Live and Periscope and posted the recordings on YouTube and the audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Conversation with Seth Godin

2016-09-14T02:38:34Z

Seth Godin has taught me so much about communications, leadership, publishing and life that I thought that it was important to stream my conversation with Seth. As usual, it was a great conversation. Seth is on the Media Lab...

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Seth Godin has taught me so much about communications, leadership, publishing and life that I thought that it was important to stream my conversation with Seth. As usual, it was a great conversation.

Seth is on the Media Lab Advisory Council.

I streamed it to Facebook Live and posted the video to YouTube and audio to SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Conversation with Danny Hillis

2016-09-14T02:40:34Z

Danny Hillis is the inventor of the Connection Machine, Co-Founder of the Long Now Foundation and visiting professor at the Media Lab. We were at a dinner recently where Danny asserted that the world could be simulated by a...

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Danny Hillis is the inventor of the Connection Machine, Co-Founder of the Long Now Foundation and visiting professor at the Media Lab. We were at a dinner recently where Danny asserted that the world could be simulated by a computer. I asked him to come to my office so I could extract this idea from him into a video.

We talked about the ability to simulate the universe digitally which obviously leads into the future of artificial intelligence, quantum physics, "why are we here" and lots of other interesting questions.

Apologies for the crappy sound and video. My default setup didn't work on the network so I had to use the camera on my Laptop.

I streamed it on Facebook Live and have posted an edited video on YouTube and audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Conversation with Bob Langer

2016-09-14T02:40:49Z

Bob is the most cited engineer in the history of the world. He is an MIT Institute Professor (there are usually only 12). He is also (lucky for me), a friend and a great mentor of mine since I...

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Bob is the most cited engineer in the history of the world. He is an MIT Institute Professor (there are usually only 12). He is also (lucky for me), a friend and a great mentor of mine since I met him in 2013 at my first Red Sox game with David Lucchino who introduced us and invited us to the game.

Bob is a great example and mentor for so many people. I recently got a chance to catch up with him and hear about his story and talk about things like peer review and the future of science. I streamed it using my Mevo to Facebook Live and then posted a cleaner video to YouTube and audio to SoundCloud and iTunes.

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