The 2017 Media Lab Director’s Fellows

The 2017 Media Lab Director’s Fellows


[music] Joi Ito: Hi, I’m Joi Ito and I’m the Director of the MIT Media Lab. The Director’s Fellow Program was actually the first program that I started. I created this fellow’s program to pick people who wouldn’t normally interact with the Lab to both influence them but also be influenced by them and many of the people who come in through the Director’s Fellows Program start projects with students or with faculty but also as a cohort they work on projects together and so it’s both bringing diversity to the Lab but also trying to impact the world through them and each cohort is selected as a kind of bouquet so we’re also making a statement each year about the types of fellows that we’re selecting and the areas and regions and fields that they’re in. This year’s bouquet really represents a lot of the interests of the Lab, a lot of what we think is interesting in the world and sort of the best examples of those people and so I really look forward to you all getting to meet them this year. Julia Angwin: I’m Julia Angwin, I’m an investigative journalist at ProPublica. My super power is that I’m really good at talking to the journalists and programmers and bringing them together to do great projects. The scariest thing I’ve done in my life is try to believe in myself. It’s really hard to take a leap and have faith that you can do something crazy like do math for journalism. So I think the burden of openness should be on the most powerful people in society and they should be the most open and most accountable. Particularly governments that are spending our money and are supposed to serve us as citizens. Unfortunately what I see more of though is demand for regular citizens to be so open. Everything has to be identified. Everywhere you go you’re being followed. Unfortunately the world is going the opposite way that I want but that’s my dream. Farai Chideya: Hi, I’m Farai Chideya. I’m an independent journalist, author, media researcher Harvard Shorenstein Center and my super power is translation, meaning between worlds, meaning between technology, culture, arts, politics, and also between the worlds of people on the left and right. One of the things I would do to make America great again is to have us understand what America is. This is a country that has an incredible, diverse history. We were never just one thing and to pretend that we were really undermines what America is so I would make America great again by having us understand who we are. I love science fiction because it’s a safe space for us to look at power, gender, race, all of these things that are problematic in the real world. So for example the phrase ‘make America great again’ was used in Octavia Butler’s novel The Parable of the Talents. She had this senator, a somewhat disturbing figure, and that was his slogan, well before Donald Trump. So science fiction can often take us places that then circle back into real life and give us perspective. Isha Datar: Hi, my name is Isha Datar and I am pioneering the field of cellular agriculture as Executive Director of New Harvest and my super power is the ability to distill really broad, complicated scientific concepts into laymen’s terms for everybody. I think the world needs more humility and more empathy. I think as our population grows and we find ourselves I guess surrounded by people more and more, I think that is such a necessary part of survival. I think what came first was the egg but it wasn’t a chicken’s egg. Adam Foss: My name is Adam Foss, I’m a founder and president of an organization called Prosecutor Impact My super power would be endowing everyone with empathy. A lack of empathy, a lack of training, a lack of technology and tools to tap into a core value of people that come to this job to be public servants to either side. Empathy is the most important thing to me in the criminal system because everything that happens to people, either who are victimized or who are offending, has something to do with life experience that most of the people who are in the system don’t have unless that’s that overlying shield of empathy you have people making judgements about people based on implicit bias and fear. Andea Lauer: My name is Andrea Lauer and I’m an artist, a designer, and an inventor and my super power is improvisation. So I’m pretty analog in terms of my tools but I would say my favorite one is a writing device. One of the things that I’ve always been really intrigued by was materials and new materials and how to create them and invent them and give them their own super power, not just through electronics but truly using technology as advancement. Leland Melvin: My name is Leland Melvin. I try to go around the world inspiring the next generation of explorers to believe in themselves and know that they can do anything they can put their mind to and my super power is to never give up on myself, a kid, a movement, or our future. I inspire others by showing them that I have had so many pitfalls in my life from abuse to almost getting arrested to almost getting kicked out of school to loosing my hearing and then having the ability to go up from all of that and fly in space 2 times, to let them know you can do anything if you believe in yourself. My best memory is after we had done the task of installing the Columbus Laboratory with a robotic arm and Dr. Peggy Whitson, the first female commander invited us over to this meal in the Russian segment and she said “You guys bring the rehydrated vegetables, we’ll have the meat”. And we break bread at 17,500 mph, going around the planet every ninety minutes with people we used to fight against. That is when I had my orbital perspective. Bridgit Mendler: Hi, my name is Bridget Mendler. I am a musician, an actress, and a student and my super power is having a really barren fridge and being able to make something dope out of the ingredients left. Lyrically I’m really inspired by stories so I’ve spent a lot of time sort of trying to understand and frame my own story but I’m also really interested in listening to and being moved by the story of others. So I grew up in northern California in a redwood forest and I think there’s something interesting about being reincarnated as a redwood tree that has been in all those same spaces that I have been in but has a completely different perspective in terms of time and scale. Jamila Raqib: Hi my name is Jamila Raqib. I’m the Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution. That’ an organization that promotes the study and use of nonviolent action and conflict and my super power is is this absurdly powerful level of hearing. There’s so much about about people that I think is so incredible but I think persistence, even in the face of adversity is really that is something that is absolutely stunning and it’s something I come across so much in my work. Non violent struggles have been largely neglected in favor of highlighting the history of war and violence and I think if we look at our own history we will realize that and will learn that progress and human rights and democracy were won by ordinary people who organized for them and who fought for them and I think that’s where the important insight that needs to be integrated more into our school system and education system and societies.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Oren Garnes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *