This week's New Yorker features a lengthy profile of Maja Matarić, USC computer science professor and author of The Robotics Primer. New Yorker writer Jerome Groopman writes about Matarić's work with stroke and Alzheimer’s patients and autistic children. She and her lab are trying to design machines that can engage directly with such patients and encourage
both physical and cognitive rehabilitation.
This excerpt from Groopman's piece shows how human interaction with robots has progressed light years from the Star Wars-Isaac Asimov images that many of us still carry around in our heads:
A woman I will call Mary, a schoolteacher in Los Angeles, suffered a
stroke in 2001, when she was forty-six. She spent six months working
with a physical therapist at the U.S.C. Medical Center to regain
strength in her weakened right arm and leg, before taking part in
Matarić’s study. I watched a videotape of her session with Matarić.
Mary, who was dressed in a white blouse and dark slacks, shuffled
slowly to a desk stacked with magazines. There was a shelf nearby, set
above shoulder level. She looked at the robot, several feet away, and
waved to it. “Come over here,” she said warmly.
The robot, which
was three feet high and looked a little like R2-D2, in “Star Wars,”
scooted close to her and stopped. “Very good,” Mary said.
on a mobile base with rotary wheels, the robot could turn in any
direction and move around the room, guided by sonar. It tracked Mary’s
movement with a scanning laser range finder; a pan-tilt-zoom camera
allowed it to look at Mary, turn away, or shake its head. A speaker,
embedded in the robot’s side, produced prerecorded speech and sound
Glancing at the robot, Mary lifted a magazine from the
top of the pile and guided it into a rack on top of the shelf. As soon
as the magazine was in place, the robot emitted a beep. During the next
few minutes, Mary moved each magazine, one by one, to the rack.
Gradually, she increased her pace, and the beeps from the robot came
faster. Mary began to laugh.
The whole thing's fascinating - read it here. Dying to know more about the book? Dig the video!
For almost 20 years, Amira Hass has written critically about both
Israeli and Palestinian authorities. A reporter and columnist for Ha’aretz Daily,
she has demonstrated her ability to defy boundaries of gender,
ethnicity and nationality in her pursuit of the truth in her reporting.
In covering the Palestinian Occupied Territories, her goal has been to
provide her readers with detailed information about Israeli policies
and especially that of restrictions of the freedom of movement. For
many years, she made her home first in Gaza City and then in Ramallah.
In conjunction with the clean energy address that President Obama is delivering at MIT today, MIT Press is releasing essays from the soon to be published fall special issue of Innovations journal on energy and climate solution. The pre-released essays are authored by White House Science Adviser John Holdren, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Economics Thomas Schelling, and the Director of MIT’s Washington office, William Bonvillian.
In his introducing to the special issue, Holdren states that the forthcoming publication is “as thorough a survey of energy and climate solutions as has yet been compiled.” Of the climate challenge, he writes:
“Without energy, there is no economy. Without climate, there is no environment.Without economy and environment, there is no material well-being, no civil society,no personal or national security. The overriding problem associated with theserealities, of course, is that the world has long been getting most of the energy itseconomies need from fossil fuels whose emissions are imperiling the climate thatits environment needs.”
“Among the ideas that I do not believe will get serious attention in Copenhagen is one I see as critical to addressing the climate challenge: creating a new institutional structure to coordinate assistance from advanced industrialized countries to developing countries with the objective of transforming the way that people in the developing world produce and utilize energy.”
Bonvillian’s essay, co-authored with GeorgetownUniversity’s Charles Weiss, summarizes and advances the core arguments presented in the authors’ MIT Press book title Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution. Bonvillian and Weiss argue that the transformation of the energy technology infrastructure represents an unprecedented challenge for policy-makers as well as for technological innovators:
“Where complex technology sectors like energy are involved, we need to have Congress legislate standard packages of incentives and support across common technology launch areas, so that some technology neutrality is preserved and the optimal emerging technology has a chance to prevail.”
The Director of the MIT Press, Ellen Faran, states that “The Innovations special issue reflects the commitment of MIT and the MIT Press to promote innovative solutions to global issues and to encourage the widest dissemination of its scholarship.”
Sample articles from the issue follow below. Members of the media wishing to see an advance copy of the issue should contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Target enters the book price war with Amazon and Walmart. The New York Times reports today that Target matched online prices with Walmart's $8.99 for the top 10 pre-ordered books, which prompted Walmart to lower its price to $8.98.
In the article, Barbara Kingsolver said, “Obviously, authors don’t own our physical books, just the words
inside, so we have no control over how they’re sold.” She added, “But we can ask our readers to consider how much they value their
local bookstores. If this price war is another way of using volume
discounts to put independent booksellers out of business, then every
thoughtful reader is going to lose in the long run.”
Hailed by Edmund White as a "brilliant young writer", Taïa's novel and short stories have earned him recognition in France, where he now resides. Salvation Army was recently translated into English and published by Semiotext(e). It is both naive and cunning, funny and moving, and exposes the complex melange of fear and desire projected onto Arabs by the west.
New York NY, 12:30-2:00pm:
Lecture in French: La Naïda: Une «Movida» Marocaine Institute of French Studies at NYU
15 Washington Mews, New York, NY 10003
Oct 21, Brooklyn NY, 7:30-9:30pm: An evening with Bidoun and Semiotext(e): A screening of outsiders' Visions of Morocco, introduced by Addellah Taïa
Light Industry 220 36th Street, 5th Floor, Brooklyn NY 111232
Oct 22, New York NY, 12:00-2:00pm:
Lecture in English: "Moroccan Literature in French" Maison Francaise at Columbia University, Buell Hall2960 Broadway, New York, NY 10027
It supposed to be chilly this weekend. Need a good book to curl up with? If so, you are in luck! Great bargains can be found this weekend from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm at the MIT Press Loading Dock Sale at the MIT Press Bookstore.
Literally *tons* of books will be on sale at
drastically reduced prices--up to 90% off their original retail price.
Come enjoy HUGE SAVINGS on:
MIT Press overstock
damaged books (minor scratches and dings)
out-of-print MIT Press books
other publisher's overstock
Saturday - "no-book-dealers" day
Saturday will be the "no-book-dealers" day that many of you have
requested. MIT or other University id will be required for admittance.
One additional guest admitted per id. There will be a 40 book per
purchaser limit. We reserve the right to refuse admittance to anyone
purchasing for resale. Anyone using digital devices to scan books will
be presumed a reseller and will be asked to leave.
Sunday - "open-to-all" day
Sunday will be the "open-to-all" day. All are welcome, no purchasing
limits. The tables will be fully restocked before the start. We reserve
the right to eject any person behaving in an uncivil manner.
If you have any concerns, suggestions, or questions please email us at email@example.com. We're always trying to make the sale a better experience and thus we welcome all feedback.
This year's winners were recently displayed at the AIGA conference. The show will now travel to AIGA's National Design Center in New York. It will permanently reside in their Archives Vault in Denver and online in the Design Archives.