People Should Find A Safe Storm Shelter During Thunderstorm

Storm Shelters in OKC

Tuesday June 5, 2001 marked the start of an extremely fascinating time in the annals of my cherished Houston. Tropical storm Allison, that early summer daytime came to see. The thunderstorm went rapidly, although there was Tuesday. Friday, afterward arrived, and Allison returned. This time going slowly, this time in the north. The thunderstorm became still. Thousands of people driven from their houses. Only when they might be desired most, several leading hospitals shut. Dozens of important surface roads, and every important highway covered in water that was high.

Yet even prior to the rain stopped, service to others, and narratives of Christian compassion started to be composed. For a couples class, about 75 people had assembled at Lakewood Church among the greatest nondenominational churches in The United States. From time they got ready to depart the waters had climbed so high they were stranded. The facility of Lakewood stayed dry and high at the center of among the hardest hit parts of town. Refugees in the powerful thunderstorm started arriving at their doorstep. Without no advance preparation, and demand of official sanction, those 75 classmates started a calamity shelter that grew to hold over 3,000 customers. The greatest of over 30 refuges that could be established in the height of the thunderstorm.

Where help was doled out to those who’d suffered losses after Lakewood functioned as a Red Cross Service Center. When it became clear that FEMA aid, and Red Cross wouldn’t bring aid enough, Lakewood and Second Baptist joined -Houston to produce an adopt a family plan to greatly help get folks on their feet quicker. In the occasions that followed militaries of Christians arrived in both churches. From all over town, people of economical standing, race, and each and every denomination collected. Wet rotted carpeting were pulled up, sheet stone removed. Piles of clothes donated food and bed clothes were doled out. Elbow grease and cleaning equipment were used to start eliminating traces of the damage.

It would have been an excellent example of practical ministry in a period of disaster, in the event the story stopped here, but it continues. A great many other churches functioned as shelters as well as in the occasions that followed Red Cross Service Centers. Tons of new volunteers, a lot of them Christians put to work, and were put through accelerated training. That Saturday, I used to be trapped in my own, personal subdivision. Particular that my family was safe because I worked in Storm Shelters OKC that was near where I used to live. What they wouldn’t permit the storm to do, is take their demand to give their religion, or their self respect. I saw so a lot of people as they brought gifts of food, clothes and bedclothes, praising the Lord. I saw young kids coming making use of their parents to not give new, rarely used toys to kids who had none.

Leaning On God Through Hard Times

Unity Church of Christianity from a location across town impacted by the storm sent a sizable way to obtain bedding as well as other supplies. A tiny troupe of musicians and Christian clowns requested to be permitted to amuse the kids in the shelter where I served and arrived. We of course promptly taken their offer. The kids were collected by them in a sizable empty space of flooring. They sang, they told stories, balloon animals were made by them. The kids, frightened, at least briefly displaced laughed.

When not occupied elsewhere I did lots of listening. I listened to survivors that were disappointed, and frustrated relief workers. I listened to kids make an effort to take advantage of a scenario they could not comprehend. All these are only the stories I have heard or seen. I am aware that spiritual groups, Churches, and lots of other individual Christians functioned admirably. I do need to thank them for the attempts in disaster. I thank The Lord for supplying them to serve.

I didn’t write its individuals, or this which means you’d feel sorry for Houston. As this disaster unfolded yet what I saw encouraged my beliefs the Lord will provide through our brothers and sisters in religion for us. Regardless how awful your community hits, you the individual Christian can be a part of the remedy. Those blankets you can probably never use, and have stored away mean much to people who have none. You are able to help in the event that you can drive. You are able to help if you’re able to create a cot. It is possible to help in the event that you can scrub a wall. It is possible to help if all you are able to do is sit and listen. Large catastrophes like Allison get lots of focus. However a disaster can come in virtually any size. That is a serious disaster to your family that called it home in case a single household burns. It is going to be generations prior to the folks here forget Allison.

United States Oil and Gas Exploration Opportunities

Firms investing in this sector can research, develop and create, as well as appreciate the edges of a global gas and oil portfolio with no political and economical disadvantages. Allowing regime and the US financial conditions is rated amongst the world and the petroleum made in US is sold at costs that were international. The firms will likely gain as US also has a national market that is booming. Where 500 exploration wells are drilled most of the petroleum exploration in US continues to be concentrated around the Taranaki Basin. On the other hand, the US sedimentary basins still remain unexplored and many show existence of petroleum seeps and arrangements were also unveiled by the investigation data with high hydrocarbon potential. There have already been onshore gas discoveries before including Great south river basins, East Coast Basin and offshore Canterbury.

As interest in petroleum is expected to grow strongly during this interval but this doesn’t automatically dim the bright future expectations in this sector. The interest in petroleum is anticipated to reach 338 PJ per annum. The US government is eager to augment the gas and oil supply. As new discoveries in this sector are required to carry through the national demand at the same time as raise the amount of self reliance and minimize the cost on imports of petroleum the Gas and Oil exploration sector is thought to be among the dawn sectors. The US government has invented a distinctive approach to reach its petroleum and gas exploration targets. It’s developed a “Benefit For Attempt” model for Petroleum and Gas exploration tasks in US.

The “Benefit For Attempt” in today’s analytic thinking is defined as oil reserves found per kilometer drilled. It will help in deriving the estimate of reservations drilled for dollar and each kilometer spent for each investigation. The authorities of US has revealed considerable signs that it’ll bring positive effects of change which will favor investigation of new oil reserves since the price of investigation has adverse effects on investigation task. The Authorities of US has made the information accessible about the oil potential in its study report. Foil of advice in royalty and allocation regimes, and simplicity of processes have enhanced the attractiveness of Petroleum and Natural Gas Sector in the United States.

Petroleum was the third biggest export earner in 2008 for US and the chance to to keep up the growth of the sector is broadly accessible by manners of investigation endeavors that are new. The government is poised to keep the impetus in this sector. Now many firms are active with new exploration jobs in the Challenger Plateau of the United States, Northland East Slope Basin region, outer Taranaki Basin, and Bellona Trough region. The 89 Energy oil and gas sector guarantees foreign investors as government to high increase has declared a five year continuance of an exemption for offshore petroleum and gas exploration in its 2009 budget. The authorities provide nonresident rig operators with tax breaks.

Modern Robot Duct Cleaning Uses

AC systems, and heat, venting collect pollutants and contaminants like mold, debris, dust and bacteria that can have an adverse impact on indoor air quality. Most folks are at present aware that indoor air pollution could be a health concern and increased visibility has been thus gained by the area. Studies have also suggested cleaning their efficacy enhances and is contributory to a longer operating life, along with maintenance and energy cost savings. The cleaning of the parts of forced air systems of heat, venting and cooling system is what’s called duct cleaning. Robots are an advantageous tool raising the price and efficacy facets of the procedure. Therefore, using modern robot duct isn’t any longer a new practice.

A cleaner, healthier indoor environment is created by a clean air duct system which lowers energy prices and increases efficiency. As we spend more hours inside air duct cleaning has become an important variable in the cleaning sector. Indoor pollutant levels can increase. Health effects can show years or up immediately after repeated or long exposure. These effects range from some respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancer that can be deadly or debilitating. Therefore, it’s wise to ensure indoor air quality isn’t endangered inside buildings. Dangerous pollutants that can found in inside can transcend outdoor air pollutants in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Duct cleaning from Air Duct Cleaning Edmond professionals removes microbial contaminants, that might not be visible to the naked eye together with both observable contaminants. Indoor air quality cans impact and present a health hazard. Air ducts can be host to a number of health hazard microbial agents. Legionnaires Disease is one malaise that’s got public notice as our modern surroundings supports the development of the bacteria that has the potential to cause outbreaks and causes the affliction. Typical disorder-causing surroundings contain wetness producing gear such as those in air conditioned buildings with cooling towers that are badly maintained. In summary, in building and designing systems to control our surroundings, we’ve created conditions that were perfect . Those systems must be correctly tracked and preserved. That’s the secret to controlling this disorder.

Robots allow for the occupation while saving workers from exposure to be done faster. Signs of the technological progress in the duct cleaning business is apparent in the variety of gear now available for example, array of robotic gear, to be used in air duct cleaning. Robots are priceless in hard to reach places. Robots used to see states inside the duct, now may be used for spraying, cleaning and sampling procedures. The remote controlled robotic gear can be fitted with practical and fastener characteristics to reach many different use functions.

Video recorders and a closed circuit television camera system can be attached to the robotic gear to view states and operations and for documentation purposes. Inside ducts are inspected by review apparatus in the robot. Robots traveling to particular sections of the system and can move around barriers. Some join functions that empower cleaning operation and instruction manual and fit into little ducts. An useful view range can be delivered by them with models delivering disinfection, cleaning, review, coating and sealing abilities economically.

The remote controlled robotic gear comes in various sizes and shapes for different uses. Of robotic video cameras the first use was in the 80s to record states inside the duct. Robotic cleaning systems have a lot more uses. These devices provide improved accessibility for better cleaning and reduce labor costs. Lately, functions have been expanded by areas for the use of small mobile robots in the service industries, including uses for review and duct cleaning.

More improvements are being considered to make a tool that was productive even more effective. If you determine to have your ventilation, heat and cooling system cleaned, it’s important to make sure all parts of the system clean and is qualified to achieve this. Failure to clean one part of a contaminated system can lead to re-contamination of the entire system.

When To Call A DWI Attorney

Charges or fees against a DWI offender need a legal Sugar Land criminal defense attorney that is qualified dismiss or so that you can reduce charges or the fees. So, undoubtedly a DWI attorney is needed by everyone. Even if it’s a first-time violation the penalties can be severe being represented by a DWI attorney that is qualified is vitally significant. If you’re facing following charges for DWI subsequently the punishments can contain felony charges and be severe. Locating an excellent attorney is thus a job you should approach when possible.

So you must bear in mind that you just should hire a DWI attorney who practices within the state where the violation occurred every state within America will make its laws and legislation regarding DWI violations. It is because they are going to have the knowledge and expertise of state law that is relevant to sufficiently defend you and will be knowledgeable about the processes and evaluations performed to establish your guilt.

As your attorney they are going to look to the evaluations that have been completed at the time of your arrest and the authorities evidence that is accompanying to assess whether or not these evaluations were accurately performed, carried out by competent staff and if the right processes where followed. It isn’t often that a police testimony is asserted against, although authorities testimony also can be challenged in court.

You should attempt to locate someone who specializes in these kind of cases when you start trying to find a DWI attorney. Whilst many attorneys may be willing to consider on your case, a lawyer who specializes in these cases is required by the skilled knowledge needed to interpret the scientific and medical evaluations ran when you had been detained. The first consultation is free and provides you with the chance to to inquire further about their experience in fees and these cases.

Many attorneys will work according into a fee that is hourly or on a set fee basis determined by the kind of case. You may find how they have been paid to satisfy your financial situation and you will have the capacity to negotiate the conditions of their fee. If you are unable to afford to hire an attorney that is private you then can request a court-appointed attorney paid for by the state. Before you hire a DWI attorney you should make sure when you might be expected to appear in court and you understand the precise charges imposed against you.

How Credit Card Works

The credit card is making your life more easy, supplying an amazing set of options. The credit card is a retail trade settlement; a credit system worked through the little plastic card which bears its name. Regulated by ISO 7810 defines credit cards the actual card itself consistently chooses the same structure, size and contour. A strip of a special stuff on the card (the substance resembles the floppy disk or a magnetic group) is saving all the necessary data. This magnetic strip enables the credit card’s validation. The layout has become an important variable; an enticing credit card layout is essential in ensuring advice and its dependability keeping properties.

A credit card is supplied to the user just after a bank approves an account, estimating a varied variety of variables to ascertain fiscal dependability. This bank is the credit supplier. When a purchase is being made by an individual, he must sign a receipt to verify the trade. There are the card details, and the amount of cash to be paid. You can find many shops that take electronic authority for the credit cards and use cloud tokenization for authorization. Nearly all verification are made using a digital verification system; it enables assessing the card is not invalid. If the customer has enough cash to insure the purchase he could be attempting to make staying on his credit limit any retailer may also check.

As the credit supplier, it is as much as the banks to keep the user informed of his statement. They typically send monthly statements detailing each trade procedures through the outstanding fees, the card and the sums owed. This enables the cardholder to ensure all the payments are right, and to discover mistakes or fraudulent action to dispute. Interest is typically charging and establishes a minimal repayment amount by the end of the following billing cycle.

The precise way the interest is charged is normally set within an initial understanding. On the rear of the credit card statement these elements are specified by the supplier. Generally, the credit card is an easy type of revolving credit from one month to another. It can also be a classy financial instrument, having many balance sections to afford a greater extent for credit management. Interest rates may also be not the same as one card to another. The credit card promotion services are using some appealing incentives find some new ones along the way and to keep their customers.

Why Get Help From A Property Management?

One solution while removing much of the anxiety, to have the revenue of your rental home would be to engage and contact property management in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. If you wish to know more and are considering the product please browse the remainder of the post. Leasing out your bit of real property may be real cash-cow as many landlords understand, but that cash flow usually includes a tremendous concern. Night phones from tenants that have the trouble of marketing the house if you own an emptiness just take out lots of the pleasure of earning money off of leases, overdue lease payments which you must chase down, as well as over-flowing lavatories. One solution while removing much of the anxiety, to have the earnings would be to engage a property management organization.

These businesses perform as the go between for the tenant as well as you. The tenant will not actually need to understand who you’re when you hire a property management company. The company manages the day to day while you still possess the ability to help make the final judgements in regards to the home relationships using the tenant. The company may manage the marketing for you personally, for those who are in possession of a unit that is vacant. Since the company is going to have more connections in a bigger market than you’ve got along with the industry than you are doing, you’ll discover your device gets stuffed a whole lot more quickly making use of their aid. In addition, the property management company may care for testing prospective tenants. With regards to the arrangement you’ve got, you might nevertheless not be unable to get the last say regarding if a tenant is qualified for the the system, but of locating a suitable tenant, the day-to-day difficulty is not any longer your problem. They’ll also manage the before-move-in the reviews as well as reviews required following a tenant moves away.

It is possible to step back watching the profits, after the the system is stuffed. Communicating will be handled by the company with all the tenant if you have an issue. You won’t be telephoned if this pipe explosions at the center of the night time. Your consultant is called by the tenant in the company, who then makes the preparations that are required to get the issue repaired with a care supplier. You get a phone call a day later or may not know there was an issue before you register using the business. The property management organization may also make your leasing obligations to to get. The company will do what’s required to accumulate if your tenant is making a payment. In certain arrangements, the organization is going to also take-over paying taxation, insurance, and the mortgage on the portion of property. You actually need to do-nothing but appreciate after after all the the invoices are paid, the revenue which is sent your way.

With all the advantages, you’re probably questioning exactly what to employing a property management organization, the downside should be. From hiring one the primary variable that stops some landlords is the price. All these providers will be paid for by you. The price must be weighed by you from the time frame you’ll save time that you may subsequently use to follow additional revenue-producing efforts or just take pleasure in the fruits of your expense work.

Benifits From An Orthodontic Care

Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry centered on the identification and treatment of dental and related facial problems. The outcomes of Norman Orthodontist OKC treatment could be dramatic — an advanced quality of life for a lot of individuals of ages and lovely grins, improved oral health health, aesthetics and increased cosmetic tranquility. Whether into a look dentistry attention is needed or not is an individual’s own choice. Situations are tolerated by most folks like totally various kinds of bite issues or over bites and don’t get treated. Nevertheless, a number people sense guaranteed with teeth that are correctly aligned, appealing and simpler. Dentistry attention may enhance construct and appearance power. It jointly might work with you consult with clearness or to gnaw on greater.

Orthodontic attention isn’t only decorative in character. It might also gain long term oral health health. Right, correctly aligned teeth is not more difficult to floss and clean. This may ease and decrease the risk of rot. It may also quit periodontists irritation that problems gums. Periodontists might finish in disease, that occurs once micro-organism bunch round your house where the teeth and the gums meet. Periodontists can be ended in by untreated periodontists. Such an unhealthiness result in enamel reduction and may ruin bone that surrounds the teeth. Less may be chewed by people who have stings that are harmful with efficacy. A few of us using a serious bite down side might have difficulties obtaining enough nutrients. Once the teeth aren’t aimed correctly, this somewhat might happen. Morsel issues that are repairing may allow it to be more easy to chew and digest meals.

One may also have language problems, when the top and lower front teeth do not arrange right. All these are fixed through therapy, occasionally combined with medical help. Eventually, remedy may ease to avoid early use of rear areas. Your teeth grow to an unlikely quantity of pressure, as you chew down. In case your top teeth do not match it’ll trigger your teeth that are back to degrade. The most frequently encountered type of therapy is the braces (or retainer) and head-gear. But, a lot people complain about suffering with this technique that, unfortunately, is also unavoidable. Sport braces damages, as well as additional individuals have problem in talking. Dental practitioners, though, state several days can be normally disappeared throughout by the hurting. Occasionally annoyance is caused by them. In the event that you’d like to to quit more unpleasant senses, fresh, soft and tedious food must be avoided by you. In addition, tend not to take your braces away unless the medical professional claims so.

It is advised which you just observe your medical professional often for medical examinations to prevent choice possible problems that may appear while getting therapy. You are going to be approved using a specific dental hygiene, if necessary. Dental specialist may look-out of managing and id malocclusion now. Orthodontia – the main specialization of medication – mainly targets repairing chin problems and teeth, your grin as well as thus your sting. Dentist, however, won’t only do chin remedies and crisis teeth. They also handle tender to severe dental circumstances which may grow to states that are risky. You actually have not got to quantify throughout a predicament your life all. See dental specialist San – Direction Posts, and you’ll notice only but of stunning your smile plenty will soon be.

Using technology to combat bias in hiring

Top tech companies have a diversity problem. Reports show that Facebook and YouTube — and many companies like them — struggle to build a workforce that is reflective of the U.S. population. Why? Some say that the lack of diversity comes from a lack of qualified candidates. Stephanie Lampkin MBA ’13 argues that’s just not true. That’s why she launched Blendoor, a blind job app combatting what she says is one root of the diversity problem — unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias refers to the stereotypes, personal experiences, and cultural exposure that people unknowingly rely on when making a decision. Lampkin says that this is why hiring managers may be more impressed with candidates that resemble themselves, without even knowing it.

“The bias is something innate, but there are ways we can use tech to eliminate it,” says Lampkin. “We’re not relying on the same traditional ways that tend to bring in homogenous teams.”

With Blendoor, hiring managers use the app to sort through a diverse candidate pool without identifiers that can engage unconscious bias — like names, photos, and job dates. Hiring managers see candidate profiles based on how well they match their needs and nothing more.

Lampkin says the app matches companies with the most skilled candidates regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity. “It’s a much bigger value proposition when you say diversity is a great byproduct of the app,” says Lampkin.

Because identities of candidates can only be hidden for so long, Blendoor also tracks how candidates move through the interview process — noting when a candidate is eliminated or gets hired. The app then uses this information to better match candidates in the future and identify at what stage bias may have come into play. 

In addition to the app, Blendoor also offers BlendScore, a metric that ranks top companies based on diversity data, pay equity, and benefits like maternal and paternal leave. The metric serves as a tool for job seekers looking for diverse companies, but also informs companies when they need to make changes. “Shortly after we released a BlendScore for Facebook, they reached out looking to improve it,” says Lampkin. “They’re a customer now.” The BlendScore relies on data shared by companies, packaging it in a way that is accessible. “We’re hoping to be the like U.S. News and World Report pertaining to ethnicity, equality,” she says. “The BlendScore shines the mirror back on the companies — it’s all about transparency.”

Lampkin has personal experience with bias in her own startup journey. She notes that only a handful of black women have raised $1 million from investors — something she wants to change. “I want to pave the way so it’s not so rare for a venture capitalist to be pitched by a black woman as it is now,” says Lampkin. “That legacy is really important to me.”

This article originally appeared on the Slice of MIT blog.

Professor Tom Leighton wins 2018 Marconi Prize

MIT professor of mathematics Tom Leighton has been selected to receive the 2018 Marconi Prize. The Marconi Society, dedicated to furthering scientific achievements in communications and the Internet, is honoring Leighton for his fundamental contributions to technology and the establishment of the content delivery network (CDN) industry.

Leighton ’81, a professor in the Department of Mathematics and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), will be awarded at The Marconi Society’s annual awards dinner in Bologna, Italy, on Oct. 2.

“Being recognized by the Marconi Society is an incredible honor,” said Leighton. “It’s an honor not just for me, but also for Danny Lewin, who created this company with me, and for all of the people at Akamai who have worked so hard for over two decades to make this technology real so that the internet can scale to be a secure and affordable platform where entertainment, business, and life are enabled to reach unimagined potential.

Leighton developed the algorithms now used to deliver trillions of content requests over the internet every day. Akamai, the world’s largest cloud delivery platform, routes and replicates content over a gigantic network of distributed servers, using algorithms to find and utilize servers closest to the end user, thereby avoiding congestion within the internet.

“Tom’s work at MIT and with Akamai has had a groundbreaking impact in making the world a more connected place,” says Professor Daniela Rus, director of CSAIL. “His insights on web content delivery have played a key role in enabling us to share information and media online, and all of us at CSAIL are so very proud of him for this honor.”

“What is amazing about Tom is that, throughout his career, he is and has been as comfortable and talented as a researcher designing clever and efficient algorithms, as an educator teaching and mentoring our undergraduate and graduate students, as an entrepreneur turning mathematical and algorithmic ideas into a rapidly-expanding startup, and as an executive and industry leader able to weather the storm in the most difficult times and bring Akamai to a highly successful company,” says Michel Goemans, interim head of the mathematics department.

Leighton has said that Akamai’s role within the internet revolution was to end the “World Wide Wait.” World Wide Web founder and 2002 Marconi Fellow Tim Berners-Lee, who was the 3Com Founders chair at MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS), foresaw an internet congestion issue and in 1995 challenged his MIT colleagues to invent a better way to deliver content. Leighton set out with one of his brightest students, Danny Lewin, to solve this challenge using distributed computing algorithms.

After two years of research, Leighton and Lewin discovered a solution — but then faced the challenge of convincing others that it would work. In 1997, they entered the $50K Entrepreneurship Competition run by the MIT Sloan School of Management.

“We literally went to the library and got the equivalent of ‘Business Plans for Dummies’ because, as theoretical mathematicians, we had no experience in business,” Leighton remembers. But they learned quickly from those who did, including business professionals they met through the $50K Competition.

At the time, Leighton and Lewin didn’t envision building their own company around the technology. Instead, they planned to license it to service providers. However, they found that carriers needed to be convinced that the technology would work at scale before they were interested. “Akamai was state-of-the-art in theory, meaning that it was well beyond where people were in practice. I think folks were very skeptical that it would work,” says Leighton.

While carriers were ambivalent, content providers were receptive: The internet had proven vulnerable to congestion that was crashing websites during high demand periods. So Leighton and Lewin decided to build their own content delivery network and provide content delivery as a service. Although their business plan did not win the $50K contest, it attracted enough venture capital investment to get a company started, and Leighton and Lewin incorporated Akamai in 1998.

Akamai’s first big opportunity came in 1999 with the U.S. collegiate basketball tournament known as “March Madness.” With 64 teams playing basketball during the course of a few days, millions of viewers were watching their favorite teams online, mostly from work. When ESPN and their hosting company Infoseek became overloaded with traffic, they asked if Akamai could handle 2,000 content requests per second.

Leighton and his team said yes — even though up to that point they had only been delivering one request every few minutes. “We were a startup and we believed,” said Leighton. Akamai was able to handle 3,000 requests per second, helping ESPN to get back on line and run six times faster than they would on a normal traffic day.

Akamai’s technology and viability were proven; the company went public in 1999, earning millions for several of its young employees. But when the tech bubble burst the next year, Akamai’s stock plummeted and the firm faced the prospect of retrenchment. Then, on September 11, 2001, Danny Lewin was killed aboard American Airlines Flight 11 in the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. Akamai employees had to set aside their personal grief and complete emergency integrations to restore client sites that had crashed in the overwhelming online traffic created that day.

Akamai rebounded from that dark period, and over the years evolved from static image content to handle dynamic content and real-time applications like streaming video. Today, Akamai has over 240,000 servers in over 130 countries and within more than 1,700 networks around the world, handling about 20 to 30 percent of the traffic on the internet. Akamai accelerates trillions of internet requests each day, protects web and mobile assets from targeted application and DDoS attacks, and enables internet users to have a seamless and secure experience across different device types and network conditions. They created new technology for leveraging machine learning to analyze real-user behavior to continuously optimize a website’s performance, as well as algorithms that differentiate between human users and bots. Akamai’s security business surpassed half a billion dollars per year in revenue, making it the fastest growing part of Akamai’s business.

“Dr. Leighton is the embodiment of what the Marconi Prize honors,” says Vint Cerf, Marconi Society chair and chief internet evangelist at Google. “He and his research partner, Danny Lewin, tackled one of the major problems limiting the power of the internet, and when they developed the solution, they founded Akamai — now one of the premier technology companies in the world — to bring it to market. This story is truly remarkable.”

By receiving the Marconi Prize, Leighton joins a distinguished list of scientists whose work underlies all of modern communication technology, from the microprocessor to the internet, and from optical fiber to the latest wireless breakthroughs. Other Marconi Fellows include 2007 winner Ron Rivest, an Institute Professor, a member of CSAIL and the lab’s Theory of Computation Group, and a founder of its Cryptography and Information Security Group; and LIDS adjunct Dave Forney, ScD (EE) ’65, who received it in 1997.  

In 2016, the MIT Graduate School Council awarded Leighton, jointly with Dean of Science Michael Sipser, the Irwin Sizer Award, for most significant improvements to MIT education, specifically for their development of the successful 18C major: Mathematics with Computer Science. Leighton was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2017 for Content Delivery Network methods; Danny Lewin was also inducted posthumously.

Leighton said he plans to donate the $100,000 Marconi Prize to The Akamai Foundation, with the goal of promoting the pursuit of excellence in mathematics in grades K-12 to encourage the next generation of technology innovators.

A low-tech solution for high-impact health care

Over 17 million people around the world are forced to flee their homes by conflict or persecution each year. After enduring the long and treacherous passage to safety, many refugees arrive at settlement camps suffering from malnutrition and dehydration and require medical attention on site.

Most ailments are easily treatable if properly diagnosed, but communicating across languages and cultures can be difficult. Patients often struggle to convey their symptoms, and doctors worry they may be missing crucial information. To complicate matters, doctors jot patients’ medical notes on paper, which can result in incomplete and illegible information being recorded. Further, each time a refugee moves to another camp, a new record has to be started for the individual, making it hard to maintain a consistent medical history over time. 

There’s no shortage of apps designed to address the current refugee crisis. Rather than impose an entirely new system or technology, a team of MIT undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students from multiple disciplines set out to develop a solution that recognizes and supports existing workflows that also helps overcome time, language, and cultural barriers in doctor-patient interactions to improve overall medical care for refugees.

Introducing Sajal

Sajal (meaning “record” in Arabic) is a lightweight electronic medical record that refugees can carry around with them on their journey.

Patients begin by completing a one-time registration form with their name, date of birth, country of origin, nationality and languages spoken, along with a few simple metrics like height, weight and blood type. A QR code is then generated for patients to carry between camps and countries and keep for the long term on their phones, a prized possession and lifeline for most refugees.

To access a patient’s information, doctors simply need a QR code reader to view the individual’s medical history online. In addition, they can record notes by text or voice directly onto the patient’s page. The platform will then automatically transcribe and translate the notes, which are also searchable across languages using IBM’s speech-to-text API. This way, doctors are able to see if someone has had a history of problems in a specific area and can do so without worrying about miscommunication with the patient.

Leveraging technology to address current global problems 

The idea for Sajal came about as part of VHacks, the first-ever hackathon held at the Vatican City in Rome on the weekend of March 8-11. Student organizers from Harvard University and MIT worked with the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications and OPTIC — a global think tank dedicated to ethical issues of disruptive technologies — to coordinate the historic event.

Organizers invited universities to provide teams, and an open application allowed any student enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program to apply. The MIT Innovation Initiative —a cross-school effort to strengthen and promote innovation and entrepreneurship — put out a local call for applicants to bring this unique opportunity to MIT students. After reviewing applications and conducting interviews, the five students that best demonstrated real interest, commitment, and the ability to creatively problem-solve, were selected for the team. The Innovation Initiative, with additional support from the MIT Sloan School of Management and Office of International Programs, covered travel and incidentals for the students while accommodations and meals during the event were provided by VHacks.

Over the course of the 36-hour challenge, 120 students representing 30 countries and six universities came up with a total of 24 ideas that leveraged technology to address current global problems centered on the hackathon’s theme areas of social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and migrants and refugees. 

“We intentionally spent more time than the average team to ideate and conduct primary market research in order to ensure that the solution we built was actually solving an important problem and not just one we made up on the spot,” says Neil Gokhlay, an MBA candidate at MIT Sloan School.

Their idea came together when they were able to connect directly with a doctor based in Rome who volunteers her time at refugee camps through one of their mentors. “We interviewed the doctor in order to understand her pain points, and after coming up with a solution, we ran our idea by her to make sure we were really addressing the problems. It was through this process that we realized there were communication issues and a lack of health record management for refugees in these camps,” Gokhlay says.

After the hacking period came to an end, the students presented their concept to a panel of judges before being selected to move onto the final round in which nine teams pitched their projects in front a live audience. Teams were evaluated based on the viability of their project, the potential impact that project can have, and the technology used to build the project.

At the end of the day, prizes were awarded in each of the three theme areas, with Sajal winning second place and $1,000 in the category of migrants and refugees.  

An unconventional take

According to the organizers of VHacks, the inspiration for the event came in part from a TED Talk by Pope Francis last year in which he said, “How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion.”

It was a viewpoint that resonated with many students, including Sam Kim, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering and computer science. “I was particularly excited about VHacks due to its unique nature of problem and philosophy. As the outreach chair for the Sidney-Pacific Graduate Housing at MIT for the last two years, I am quite involved in community service in the Boston area, but I wanted to gain more exposure to the diverse set of problems people are experiencing, and I do believe VHacks certainly broadened my perspective.”

Mechanical engineering sophomore Claire Traweek appreciated in particular the emphasis throughout the weekend on understanding existing problems and building something sustainable. “The organizers seemed very intent on supporting meaningful projects into the long term, instead of having everything die out after a weekend. Because of this, I felt that VHacks might be a good opportunity to work on something potentially useful, and a starting point for something genuinely helpful,” she said, adding, “I was not wrong.”

Jessy Lin, an electrical engineering and computer science undergraduate and a regular participant and organizer of hackathons, including HackMIT, concurs: “’Move fast and break things,’ the typical mantra of Silicon Valley, doesn’t apply when these complex problems with peoples’ lives are at stake. It takes a deep understanding of the scope and nature of these problems and continued engagement past the weekend, which is what we’re trying to do with Sajal.”

A 36-hour idea from concept to impact

Fueled by the experience of coming together as a team and building something they think can have a real impact on those who need it most, Gokhlay, Lin, and Traweek — along with teammate Juliet Wanyiri, a graduate student in integrated design and management — all agree Sajal is an effort worth continuing.

“We are passionate about this project and we want to keep the ball rolling,” says Gohklay. “It’s a project where we can leverage both our technical skills and our emphatic desire to help others.”

The team is especially proud they were able to take a human-centered approach to tackling the problems faced by migrants and refugees and that by putting people’s needs at the center, instead of the technology, they were able to come up with a solution that has immediate value to individuals.

According to the students, the refugee doctor that helped them design their initial prototype is already on board and excited to pilot Sajal with her patients. They hope to expand their user base to additional doctors at the same site before launching the platform at other refugee camps within Italy. Eventually, their goal is to release Sajal worldwide.

In the meantime, as hackathon code is notoriously messy, the students are in the midst of polishing the technology and will be adding a number of features they didn’t have time for earlier, including machine learning for diagnostic assistance, privacy and authentication measures to protect patient data, and SMS registration. To support their work on Sajal for the long term, the team has already applied to a couple of seed grants and is actively looking around for other resources across MIT’s innovation and entrepreneurship landscape.

Yo-Yo Ma calls for “culture in action” to build a better world

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma made a heartfelt call for ethical action to shape a better society — and played some Bach — while delivering MIT’s annual Karl Taylor Compton Lecture before an engrossed campus audience on Monday.

Every person, Ma said, has an obligation to “find a way, each, according to your strengths and capacities as citizens, to identify and start chipping away at society’s greatest problems.” At the same time, he added, we should ask ourselves a separate but related question: “What can we all do together that we can’t do alone?”

Ma is famous for his mastery of the cello across an impressively large range of musical genres, from the canonical Western classical works to the music of places as disparate as Appalachia and Brazil. That same global outlook has informed his sense of social responsibility: Ma has served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2006.

In his MIT talk, titled, “Culture, Understanding, and Survival,” Ma expressed concern that so many aspects of life seem to be in a state of flux at the moment.

“I’m worried that at the same time we’re making so many advances, while many people’s lives are improving significantly, we are also creating massive disruption,” Ma said.

For all our gains, he said, “we also live in a time of increasing fraction, when the ties that bind us politically, economically, and socially are fraying. I’m concerned that we’re hurtling toward a future … where we can no longer assure the health of our planet, where violence becomes a solution, where intellectual certitude displaces intellectual curiosity, where we feel comfortable turning our back on others.”

And yet, Ma added, “I’m also hopeful, because I believe we can solve those problems with culture’s contribution.”

Speaking without notes to a large audience in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, Ma defined culture broadly, from “literature to mathematics, from biology to music,” as the result of “our primal drive to understand our environment, ourselves, and others.” By serving as the foundation for a shared understanding of the world, Ma said, “Culture must play a role in our decision making. It turns ‘the other’ into us, and we all have a part to play.”

The magic of music, in the “seat of discovery”

Ma was introduced by MIT President L. Rafael Reif, who noted Ma’s “dazzling list of accomplishments,” which include 18 Grammy Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, bestowed by then-President Obama in 2011.

“He has been teaching us all to sail toward each other on an ocean of culture,” Reif said.

Ma called MIT “one of my favorite places in the world” because of its “sheer energy” and “spirit of inquiry,” and emphasized how much he had enjoyed participating in a luncheon with students held earlier in the day. Ma also noted that he has many colleagues and friends among the composers and performers at MIT.

“I love MIT because it’s the seat of discovery and the very incarnation of invention,” he said.

In his lecture, Ma made the case that two particular modes of thinking help generate productive ideas, which in turn can serve larger social needs. The first is what Ma calls “edge-center oscillation” — the need to connect innovative ideas, which sometimes appear on the margins of a particular discipline, with mainstream thought. 

“Culture helps the edges of society communicate with the center of society,” Ma said, emphasizing the need for the “integration of edge ideas into the mainstream.”

In the arts, he noted, we see this in the connections that musicians make across cultures; in science, useful ideas can stay at the margins of a field until researchers open themselves to studying them. As an example, Ma cited the once-unorthodox concept of fighting tumors by cutting off their blood supply, which has become a major area of cancer research.

“If you’re in the center, make sure you’re open to ideas from the edge, and do that all the time,” Ma said.

Ma then played the prelude to the Bach Cello Suite No. 1 — the first piece of music he ever learned — which features “massive disruptive change,” in the form of the lowest notes of the piece, followed by an ending that reaches the piece’s highest notes and repeats its opening motif, which Ma called “a reinvigorated center, a strengthened reflection of the beginning.”

Analysis and empathy

A second mode of thinking, Ma added, involves the integration of our abilities to analyze things and feel empathy for others, something he regards as being vital in almost any field of human endeavor — so that we can be both creative and disciplined, while remaining purposeful in our activities.

“This is a state of mind, a type of thinking, that culture helps us train for,” Ma said.

“Nobody does this better than Bach,” he stated, adding that Bach’s Cello Suite No. 5 “combines total objectivity and total subjectivity, analysis and empathy, the conscious and subconscious. … It’s a compositional miracle.”

To demonstrate, the famed cellist played a part of the piece, explaining that the notes that go down create a “gravitational pull” and “feeling of burden,” while “the notes that go up must struggle against that pull.”

In any aspect of life, Ma suggested, we can experience that same sense of struggle. And while we may not personally cure cancer or solve the world’s problems, he noted, we can always feel we are contributing to a larger cultural effort to make life better for others. In this vein, Ma cited the case of a scientist who once told him, “I view my work as a building block in a very large field.” 

Taking the next step together

The Karl Taylor Compton Lecture Series, which dates to 1957, is among MIT’s highest-profile lecture events. It is named after the Institute’s 10th president, who held office from 1930 to 1948. Compton also served as chairman of the MIT Corporation from 1948 to 1954.

As Reif stated in his remarks, Compton “made science an equal partner with engineering at MIT,” and, during World War II, helped strengthen MIT’s vital collaborations with the U.S. federal government.

“In the best MIT tradition, President Compton was a citizen scientist,” Reif added. “He was known for the scope of his understanding, his integrity, his creative vision, his inspired service to society, and his charismatic charm.”

Following Ma’s lecture, Reif joined Ma onstage to read aloud audience questions, which Ma answered. The musician then concluded with another call for people to contribute to the common good of society.

“Let us choose the next step in our cultural evolution together,” Ma said, eliciting a standing ovation from the MIT crowd.

Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab holds second J-WEL Week

The Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) is kicking off its second J-WEL Week, a semiannual meeting of members to explore important new developments in learning science, pedagogy, adult learning, and digital learning practices. The meeting is themed “Learning Communities of the Future,” and participants will explore MIT educational research and teaching approaches as a catalyst for articulating goals and action plans for their own organizations.

“Through J-WEL, we will forge new and long-lasting collaborations as we learn, share, and train together, using the assets developed at MIT as well as by leveraging the community convened by J-WEL,” MIT Vice President for Open Learning Sanjay Sarma explains.

J-WEL Week is structured in three parallel, interwoven programs, one for each of the lab’s three collaboratives — pK-12, Higher Education, and Workplace Learning — which come together in joint sessions throughout the meeting. The program was designed by J-WEL faculty directors professors Angela Becher, Eric Klopfer, and Hazel Sive, and Principal Research Scientist George Westerman, in cooperation with M.S. Vijay Kumar, J-WEL’s executive director — who collectively bring to the program decades of experience and passion across pre-K-12, higher education, and workplace learning.

The participants are educators from across the globe, who are thinking deeply about educational challenges and opportunities. The more than 100 participants come from 23 countries, including Australia, Colombia, India, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Spain. The participants include university senior leadership, industry leaders, educators, government officials, and heads of leading foundations. 

J-WEL Week convenes at various locations on the MIT campus and features outstanding educational innovators from the MIT community and its ecosystem. Speakers include Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson, MIT Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz, Associate Dean for Innovation Fiona Murray, Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz, and Dean of Science Michael Sipser; a number of professors, including Azra Aksamija, Craig Carter, Lorna Gibson, and Laura Schulz; and senior staff and students.  A full list of speakers is available on the J-WEL website. Interactive sessions are planned with MIT programs including App Inventor, BioBuilder, Legatum Center, and Scratch.

J-WEL was launched in May 2017 by MIT and social enterprise organization Community Jameel. The chairperson of Community Jameel is alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel ’78, a life member of the MIT Corporation and 2016 recipient of the MIT Alumni Association’s highest honor for his history of service and philanthropy. J-WEL is named in honor of his father, the late Abdul Latif Jameel, founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel business, whose work to help the lives of tens of thousands of people is continued today by Community Jameel.

“Education and learning are fundamental to a strong society and economy,” says Fady Mohammed Jameel, president of Community Jameel International.  “They promote employment and create increased opportunity for all.”

Contact lenses that deliver drugs directly to the eye win health care prize

A team from a Harvard Medical School affiliate saw its way clearly to victory at last night’s MIT Sloan Healthcare Innovation Prize competition, with contact lenses that deliver medications directly to the eye over days or weeks.

For its novel invention, Theraoptix took home the annual competition’s $25,000 grand prize, sponsored by health services firm Optum. In total, eight finalist teams pitched health care innovations to a panel of expert judges, from Optum and several local venture firms, and a capacity audience at the MIT Wong Auditorium in the Tang Center.

Winning a second-place prize of $2,000 was Strand Therapeutics, which is developing mRNA-based cancer-fighting drugs. A $500 audience-choice prize was awarded to Healthcare Hospitality Systems, developing directional sound systems for hospital rooms.

Made from FDA-approved materials, Theraoptix’s contact lenses deliver eye medication in a controlled, sustained release. Sandwiched between contact lens material is a drug-filled polymer film, formed into a tiny circular strip that doesn’t interfere with the wearer’s vision. The sandwiching structure causes the drugs to slowly seep from the film into the eye.

The lenses can be worn all day for up to two weeks to treat, say, glaucoma or to aid in healing after surgery. Eye drops are the traditional treatment method, but they can be ineffective, as the liquid drips out of the eye or patients may stop treatment. Moreover, the lenses can effectively deliver drugs to the back of the eye to treat macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, and other diseases that today require in-office injections.

“No eye drops, no injections — just one lens,” said team member Lokendra Bengani, a postdoc at Schepens Eye Research Institute of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, during the team’s winning pitch.

Theraoptix’s aim is primarily to improve patient compliance, Bengani told MIT News after the competition. Glaucoma, for instance, is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. “Yet six months into therapy, patients will stop taking medications. They have to take about four drops per day, so they stop,” he said. “We’re hoping this lens can help them comply without having to do anything else.”

Most of the prize money will go toward research and development. Surprisingly, Bengani told MIT News, Theraoptix came into the competition not expecting to win anything at all. “Honestly, we just came for feedback from the judges,” he said, laughing. “But this will definitely help.”

Theraoptix’s core technology was developed nearly a decade ago in the lab of David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert Langer at MIT, by ophthalmologist Joseph B. Ciolino, Bengani’s mentor at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Second-place winner Strand Therapeutics is developing a therapeutic that combines engineered mRNA, which relays messages for cells to create proteins, with certain immunotherapies, which trigger the body’s immune response to fight cancer. The idea is the mRNA will help cells produce target cancer-killing proteins during immunotherapy.

In the team’s pitch, Jacob Becraft, an MIT PhD student in biological engineering, showed preclinical trial results of the combined therapeutic, which extended survival rates of cancer patients by a couple months compared to immunotherapy alone. Additionally, mRNA-based therapeutics are safe, easy to deliver, and relatively cheap to produce, according to the team. “With Strand Therapeutics, we believe there is finally a market opportunity to cure cancer,” Becraft said.

Audience-choice winner, Healthcare Hospitality Systems, from MIT, is developing an audio device that points a slim “beam” of sound at a listener. Outside of that beam, however, the sound is no louder than a whisper. In a demonstration, one team member faced a ceiling tile equipped with the device directly at the audience. Music playing through the device was clearly audible. But when the tile was flipped horizontally, facing the floor, the room went silent.

The device can be installed in square ceiling panels above hospital beds, and connect wirelessly to a television, so patients can watch television without disturbing others. University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, and Winchester Hospital in Massachusetts have already started piloting the device. (The device is a modified version of the Audio Spotlight, developed by Joseph Pompei PhD ’02 at the Media Lab and commercialized through his company Holosonics.)

Other competing teams were: Iterative Scopes, developing computer vision algorithms that aid in detecting lesions that may signal colorectal cancer during colonoscopies; SurgiBox, developing a clear enclosure that sits on top of a surgery patient, creating a portable sterile environment; Umbulizer, developing a low-cost, portable device that provides continuous ventilation in the developing world; Kinematics, developing smart shoe insoles that use sensors and real-time data to enable faster and more comprehensive gait analysis for physical therapists; and O2Map, developing an implantable sensor that can monitor oxygen in tumors, because low-oxygen tumors can become resistant to radiotherapy.

The competition was organized by the student-run MIT Sloan Healthcare Club and was held as part of the 16th annual MIT Sloan Healthcare and BioInnovations Conference, themed “Pathways to Innovation in Healthcare.” The conference, held today in the MIT Media Lab, brings together industry, academic, investment, and policy leaders from the health care industry to listen to keynotes and panel discussions on today’s pressing issues and innovations. There are also two hands-on workshops, hosted by MIT Hacking Medicine and by Solve.

Dozens of teams apply each year to the competition, while only eight are selected to pitch in the final pitch competition. Weeks before the competition, finalist teams are offered mentorship, networking opportunities, and a one-day workshop on developing business pitches. The competition consisted of two semifinal rounds, where judges provide further coaching. Criteria for choosing competing teams included determining the novelty of the invention, its technical feasibility, any hurdles in governmental and other regulations, and whether the team has acquired customers or made its first sale. Teams must have at least one representative from MIT or Harvard University.

With the competition, organizers hope to strengthen the health care community at MIT, in neighboring Kendall Square, and across Boston by fostering connections among teams, judges, and local mentors and investors.

Keynote speaker was Alexandra Drane, a serial entrepreneur who co-founded several health care startups and nonprofits in the region and beyond, including Archangels, Engage with Grace, and Eliza Corporation. Kyle Rand of last year’s winning team, Rendever, which is developing a virtual reality platform for the elderly, was on hand to deliver a talk that focused on the ups and downs of running a health care startup.

Study: On Twitter, false news travels faster than true stories

A new study by three MIT scholars has found that false news spreads more rapidly on the social network Twitter than real news does — and by a substantial margin.

“We found that falsehood defuses significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth, in all categories of information, and in many cases by an order of magnitude,” says Sinan Aral, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of a new paper detailing the findings.

“These findings shed new light on fundamental aspects of our online communication ecosystem,” says Deb Roy, an associate professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab and director of the Media Lab’s Laboratory for Social Machines (LSM), who is also a co-author of the study. Roy adds that the researchers were “somewhere between surprised and stunned” at the different trajectories of true and false news on Twitter. 

Moreover, the scholars found, the spread of false information is essentially not due to bots that are programmed to disseminate inaccurate stories. Instead, false news speeds faster around Twitter due to people retweeting inaccurate news items.

“When we removed all of the bots in our dataset, [the] differences between the spread of false and true news stood,”says Soroush Vosoughi, a co-author of the new paper and a postdoc at LSM whose PhD research helped give rise to the current study.

The study provides a variety of ways of quantifying this phenomenon: For instance,  false news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are. It also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people. When it comes to Twitter’s “cascades,” or unbroken retweet chains, falsehoods reach a cascade depth of 10 about 20 times faster than facts. And falsehoods are retweeted by unique users more broadly than true statements at every depth of cascade.

The paper, “The Spread of True and False News Online,” is published today in Science.

Why novelty may drive the spread of falsity

The genesis of the study involves the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent casualties, which received massive attention on Twitter.

“Twitter became our main source of news,” Vosoughi says. But in the aftermath of the tragic events, he adds, “I realized that … a good chunk of what I was reading on social media was rumors; it was false news.” Subsequently, Vosoughi and Roy — Vosoughi’s graduate advisor at the time — decided to pivot Vosoughi’s PhD focus to develop a model that could predict the veracity of rumors on Twitter.

Subsequently, after consultation with Aral — another of Vosoughi’s graduate advisors, who has studied social networks extensively — the three researchers decided to try the approach used in the new study: objectively identifying news stories as true or false, and charting their Twitter trajectories. Twitter provided support for the research and granted the MIT team full access to its historical archives. Roy served as Twitter’s chief media scientist from 2013 to 2017.

To conduct the study, the researchers tracked roughly 126,000 cascades of news stories spreading on Twitter, which were cumulatively tweeted over 4.5 million times by about 3 million people, from the years 2006 to 2017.

To determine whether stories were true or false, the team used the assessments of six fact-checking organizations (,,,,, and, and found that their judgments overlapped more than 95 percent of the time.

Of the 126,000 cascades, politics comprised the biggest news category, with about 45,000, followed by urban legends, business, terrorism, science, entertainment, and natural disasters. The spread of false stories was more pronounced for political news than for news in the other categories.

The researchers also settled on the term “false news” as their object of study, as distinct from the now-ubiquitous term “fake news,” which involves multiple broad meanings.

The bottom-line findings produce a basic question: Why do falsehoods spread more quickly than the truth, on Twitter? Aral, Roy, and Vosoughi suggest the answer may reside in human psychology: We like new things.

“False news is more novel, and people are more likely to share novel information,” says Aral, who is the David Austin Professor of Management. And on social networks, people can gain attention by being the first to share previously unknown (but possibly false) information. Thus, as Aral puts it, “people who share novel information are seen as being in the know.”

The MIT scholars examined this “novelty hypothesis” in their research by taking a random subsample of Twitter users who propagated false stories, and analyzing the content of the reactions to those stories.

The result? “We saw a different emotional profile for false news and true news,” Vosoughi says. “People respond to false news more with surprise and disgust,” he notes, whereas true stories produced replies more generally characterized by sadness, anticipation, and trust.

So while the researchers “cannot claim that novelty causes retweets” by itself, as they state in the paper, the surprise people register when they see false news fits with the idea that the novelty of falsehoods may be an important part of their propagation.

Directions for further research

While the three researchers all think the magnitude of the effect they found is highly significant, their views on its civic implications vary slightly. Aral says the result is “very scary” in civic terms, while Roy is a bit more sanguine. But the scholars agree it is important to think about ways to limit the spread of misinformation, and they hope their result will encourage more research on the subject.

On the first count, Aral notes, the recognition that humans, not bots, spread false news more quickly suggests a general approach to the problem.

“Now behavioral interventions become even more important in our fight to stop the spread of false news,” Aral says. “Whereas if it were just bots, we would need a technological solution.”

Vosoughi, for his part, suggests that if some people are deliberately spreading false news while others are doing so unwittingly, then the phenomenon is a two-part problem that may require multiple tactics in response. And Roy says the findings may help create “measurements or indicators that could become benchmarks” for social networks, advertisers, and other parties.

The MIT scholars say it is possible that the same phenomenon occurs on other social media platforms, including Facebook, but they emphasize that careful studies are needed on that and other related questions.

In that vein, Aral says, “science needs to have more support, both from industry and government, in order to do more studies.”

For now, Roy says, even well-meaning Twitter users might reflect on a simple idea: “Think before you retweet.”

Solve announces next global challenges

At the March 1 launch event for MIT’s Intelligence Quest, MIT Solve Executive Director Alex Amouyel announced Solve’s next set of challenges: Coastal Communities, Frontlines of Health, Teachers and Educators, and Work of the Future.

Solve’s challenges are open to anyone with a relevant solution and the deadline to submit is July 1. Once the new Solver class is selected in September, Solve will then deploy its global community of private, public, and nonprofit leaders to form partnerships these tech entrepreneurs need to scale their impact.

“These are big challenges — the type that MIT, founded as a school of practical application, of problem-solving, and of real entrepreneurial spirit, has sought to tackle since its inception,” said Amouyel. “At Solve, we are opening up the doors of a world-class institution to those without an MIT card — because we believe that talent and ingenuity are everywhere.”

Over the past six months, the Solve team has consulted over 500 cross-sector leaders and experts to determine the 2018 challenges. Solve hosted 26 Challenge Design Workshops in eight countries, in locations ranging from Detroit, Standing Rock, Riyadh, London, and Paris, to source insights around the most pressing problems communities around the world are facing today. In the spirit of open innovation, Solve encouraged community members to vote and propose new challenge ideas on the Solve website and in doing so received over 12,000 votes.

The Solve team will be reviewing all of the solutions to decide the next Solver class and will hold Solveathons to help Solve applicants further refine their ideas. Solve’s Challenge Leadership Groups, comprising cross-sector leaders and MIT faculty, will select the finalists who will then be invited to Solve Challenge Finals on Sept. 23, 2018 in New York City during UN General Assembly Week and will have the opportunity to pitch their solution for the chance to become a part of the next Solver class.

  1. Coastal Communities: How can coastal communities mitigate and adapt to climate change while developing and prospering?

  2. Frontlines of Health: How can communities invest in frontline
    health workers and services to improve their access to effective and affordable care?

  3. Teachers and Educators: How can teachers and educators provide accessible, personalized, and creative learning experiences for all?    

  4. Work of the Future: How can those left behind by the technology-driven transformations of work create meaningful and prosperous livelihoods for themselves?

Solve is a global community of private, public, and nonprofit leaders accelerating positive impact. Corporates, foundations, investors, and nonprofits interested in supporting the Solver class and joining the community can apply for membership here.

MIT launches Task Force on the Work of the Future

Today MIT launched its Task Force on the Work of the Future, an Institute-wide effort to understand and shape the evolution of jobs during an age of innovation.

The task force’s mission was announced in a letter to the MIT community by Provost Martin A. Schmidt.

“The MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future takes as a guiding premise that addressing the social and human implications of technology should not be an afterthought, but instead should be a first concern that pervades how we design, innovate, and take our ideas to market, as well as what we teach our students, the technologists of tomorrow,” Schmidt writes.

The task force’s project is a vital part of examining the strength of our civic fabric, MIT President L. Rafael Reif says. 

“In profound and pervasive ways, the technologies humans invent in the present will set the terms of our shared future,” Reif says. “The global race to advance those technologies will help determine the nature of society itself. Through the work of the task force, we hope to help the nation and the world reflect on what kind of society we aspire to — and come together to make it real.” 

Since at least the industrial revolution, new technologies have both created and replaced jobs at large scales, while altering many other forms of work. Today, new developments in artificial intelligence, automation, information technology, 3-D printing, and other areas of innovation are again reshaping traditional jobs and have the potential to further change the workplace.

Faced with this uncertain landscape, as well as growing concerns about the issue across the political spectrum, the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future will conduct an empirical, interdisciplinary, and global study of the subject, to understand work today and its possible trajectories in the future. The task force aims to shed new light on the linked evolution of technology and human work, and will issue findings guiding the development and implementation of policy, to suggest how society can continue to offer broad opportunity and prosperity.

Many MIT scholars have already produced research revealing recent changes in the nature of work. The new initiative will bring that expertise to the fore and tap into the Institute’s unique range of scholarship.

The MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future consists of a faculty and student research team of more than 20 members, as well as an external advisory board. Additional researchers are expected to participate in working groups to supplement the efforts of the core task force members.

Those task force members represent fields from engineering and cognitive science to economics, management, political science, anthropology, education innovation, and the history of technology. The group will integrate deep knowledge of technology, expertise in the social and human sciences, and an understanding that public policy significantly shapes the workplace as well.

All told, the task force is expected to continue for two years. The group will issue research findings periodically, as well as final reports and a published book intended for a general audience. Task force activities will include conferences and a speaker series, in addition to educational and outreach efforts.

The task force leadership team consists of David Autor, the Ford Professor of Economics and associate head of the MIT Department of Economics; David Mindell, the Frances and David Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing, and a professor of aeronautics and astronautics; and Elisabeth Reynolds, executive director of the MIT Industrial Performance Center (IPC) and a lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

“History makes clear that individuals and institutions shape how innovation, automation, and rising productivity translate into opportunity, meritocracy, and dynamism on the one hand, or into economic stasis, dynasticism, and plutocracy on the other,” says Autor, a labor economist who has studied many aspects of the workplace.

Autor adds: “MIT’s choice of the title Work of the Future conveys two facets of the challenge and opportunity we face. One is to understand and anticipate the role that human work will play in a future in which machines accomplish many of our traditional cognitive and physical tasks. A second is to seize the opportunity to shape that future. Our task force aims to contribute to both goals — anticipating the future and enabling individuals, institutions, private-sector actors, and governments to make this future a better one.”

Mindell, an engineer, historian, and entrepreneur who has written multiple books about human-machine interactions, says he is “honored” to be co-chairing the task force. “I believe it is the most important thing MIT can be doing right now, as the world is clamoring for sober, informed assessments on how we can shape the future of technology and work. MIT’s resources on both the technical and social dimensions of these changes are unsurpassed, and I’m thrilled that the task force will bring together expertise from so many perspectives.”

Reynolds oversees the IPC, an interdisciplinary center supporting research about firms, industries, and technological change in the global economy. The new task force will engage with several issues that have been of longstanding interest to the IPC, such as the adoption of new technologies by firms, the role institutions play in shaping regional growth and labor markets, and the impact of increasing globalization on industry.

“We see significant variation in how different regions and countries more broadly are responding to concerns about the impact of new technologies on work in the future,” Reynolds says. “These differences are important to understand, within the U.S., as well as in other countries. We expect our research will try to capture this variation and learn from it.”

The launch of the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future is occurring as the Institute is starting the MIT Intelligence Quest (MIT IQ), an interdisciplinary project to study and develop human and machine intelligence. The task force’s ability to draw upon the latest developments from MIT IQ will help it stay informed about the leading edge of intelligence research and its possible workplace applications. At the same time, research from the Work of the Future task force can inform the approach of MIT IQ and other Institute initiatives relevant to the workplace. 

The MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future has a similar aim and structure as some high-profile MIT research initiatives that preceded it. MIT’s Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE) initiative, which concluded in 2013, examined the relationship between advanced manufacturing and innovation. Along with MIT’s participation in the U.S. federal government’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, the PIE initiative has helped inform U.S. economic policy on industrial innovation.

Earlier, MIT’s Commission on Industrial Productivity examined U.S. industrial competitiveness and published the notable 1989 book, “Made in America.”

Event explores initial findings from “MIT and Slavery” class

In 1882, MIT students socialized in a drawing room that featured a replica of J.M.W. Turner’s painting, “The Slaveship,” which shows enslaved people drowning, thrown overboard during a storm as expendable cargo. The students’ commentary centered on the painting’s bold colors, but ignored the violent human narrative.

On Friday, Feb. 16, MIT senior Alaisha Alexander stood under a projection of that haunting image, and noted that absence in the campus dialogue of the time. Early MIT coursework also referred to scientific literature that validated slavery, she said, without encountering opposition from professors or students. “It’s not just about what is taught at a university. It’s also about what isn’t,” said Alexander, a mechanical engineering student. “Science and technology aren’t neutral.”

Alexander and other MIT students have begun exploring the university’s entanglement with the institution of slavery, in the process writing a more complete history, and helping to catalyze a national conversation about the legacies of slavery in science, engineering, and technical education. The source of this momentum is a new, ongoing undergraduate research course, “MIT and Slavery,” (21H.S01). Set in motion by MIT President L. Rafael Reif with School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) Dean Melissa Nobles, the course was developed and taught by Craig Steven Wilder, the Barton L. Weller Professor of History and the nation’s leading expert on the links between universities and slavery, in collaboration with Nora Murphy, the MIT Archivist for Researcher Services.

How can history help us invent a better future?

The power of stories and seeking the facts were primary threads of discussion among the nine speakers during Friday’s event, the first of the “MIT and the Legacy of Slavery” dialogues that will engage the MIT community in considering responses to the course findings. A single MIT course rarely prompts community-wide conversations, but the research of the “MIT and Slavery” course speaks not only to more complete understanding of the Institute’s own history, but to the roots of ongoing culture-wide issues of justice, inclusion, and human rights.

“I believe the work of this class is important to the present — and to the future,” President Reif said in his welcoming remarks to around 200 faculty, students, alumni, and a livestream audience at the event. “Something I have always loved about the MIT community is that we seek, and we face, facts. What can history teach us now, as we work to invent the future? How can we make sure that the technologies we invent will indeed contribute to making a better world for all?”

The power of facts — and stories

Four MIT students from the first class presented well-researched information and narratives — previously obscured, forgotten, ignored — that shed new light on the history of science and technology in the U.S. One of many revelations unearthed in the course involves the story of MIT’s founder and first president William Barton Rogers. As Murphy discovered in the U.S. Census Slave Schedule of Virginia, before Rogers moved to Massachusetts in 1853, he owned six enslaved people, who, according to the census records, lived in his Virginia household.

This discovery hardly surprises scholars such as Wilder. In his words, “If we’re surprised, our surprise is a measure of how successful we’ve been as a nation at erasing the history of slavery,” including its pervasive links with the economy and major institutions, in the Northeast as well as the South. Many U.S. engineering schools, for example, were originally funded by families whose wealth derived from textile, sugar, and mining operations, which depended, directly or indirectly, on the labor of enslaved people.

A new space for research and conversation

All the early findings from the new course, and those from future classes, will contribute to advancing a national dialogue, Wilder said: “We are not only participating in a larger exploration of the ties between American universities and slavery, we are leading a part of it.” Wilder said he hopes the MIT project inspires other science and technology institutions across the country to revisit their histories, and to form a collaborative research effort on the relationship between science, engineering, and the slave economies of the Atlantic World. Wilder is partnering with colleagues at New York University to convene several schools this spring to launch the initiative.

“The goal of our work is to collectively tell our story in the most honest, complicated, full, and transparent way that we can,” Wilder said during Friday’s event. Such a narrative will create space for much better conversations on campuses, in cities, in states, and across the country, he explained, adding that “what we mean by race, social justice, inclusion, and diversity” for the present and the future can only be understood when seen against an accurate historical backdrop.

Fundamental to the nation’s history

In 1861, when MIT was founded, the political and social order in the U.S., along with its economy, was still fundamentally shaped by the institution of slavery, said Nobles, who provided an overview of the cultural and economic context in which MIT was founded, and will lead MIT’s process of community discussions to consider responses to the “MIT and Slavery” course findings.

The legacy of slavery is enmeshed in the histories of many of the country’s oldest and most prestigious institutions, said Nobles, who is also a professor of political science at MIT. “Slavery was so fundamental to our country’s history, economy, and politics that it would only be surprising if there were no connections at MIT.”

Indeed all scientific knowledge is embedded in a social context, said the course’s teaching assistant Clare Kim, a fifth-year PhD candidate. Her students visited the MIT archives and pored over old issues of the student newspaper The Tech and the MIT yearbook Technique. They also read faculty minutes, course catalogs, and a wealth of secondary source materials.

“These students interrogated not only our assumptions about MIT and slavery — but also race, science, and technology,” Kim said. She urged the audience to do more than passively receive the facts the class has found. “Go back to your labs and offices and look at your environment. Consider how the way you think about MIT — and science and technology — includes traces of the histories you are about to hear today.”

Insights from MIT students

Gasps were audible as Alexander, the mechanical engineering student, delved into early MIT silence around “The Slaveship” painting and other racialized art and literature. She ended her presentation by saying, “I encourage you to think about where different notions of science come from.”

Visual images were also the focus of first-year student Kelvin Green II’s research. Combing through early MIT student publications, Green II strove to understand early campus attitudes through the images that MIT students drew. He found racialized and mocking images of African-Americans; hooded figures evocative of the Klu Klux Klan; and an absence of images depicting African-Americans as students or engineers — an absence at odds with the actual occupations of black male Bostonians during the 1881-1911 time period.

When asked about the impact of these slavery-related findings on black students at MIT today, Green II reflected: “How do you quantify the experience of a black student confronted with the images I’ve put up?” Understanding racism, he continued, requires qualitative analysis, including listening to the stories of those most affected by it. “Engage in dialogue. If you don’t have a black friend, make a black friend!” he said to applause.

Sophomore Mahalaxmi Elango dug into MIT’s early curriculum for her project, and discovered not only an early focus on mining — an industry that had relied heavily on enslaved people — but also that slavery was a subject for academic discussion at MIT. A popular course in moral philosophy, for example, explored the relationship between technology and the economies of labor, including the labor of enslaved people. An 1873 political economy exam asked: “Define Labor, and prove that the service of slaves, or any involuntary work, is not labor in the economic sense.”

Charlotte Minsky, a sophomore majoring in earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences, examined the careers of students who came to MIT in its first 15 years and found a large concentration of these students went into the railroad industry. She speculated that this focus emerged from the need to rebuild the South after the Civil War. “It’s essential to the narrative of early MIT that there’s a flow of money and ideas from the South to the North in the era of Reconstruction,” she said. Of MIT’s investigation into slavery, Minsky observed, “MIT is setting a precedent for similar institutions. We are showing that connections to slavery are very nuanced, and that science and technology are an aspect of this history that can longer be left in the wings.”

Raising questions

What skepticism there is about the “MIT and Slavery” research course takes the form of questions like the following, posed by a livestream viewer: “What gives anyone today the right to judge the actions of people in the distant past by modern popular moral standards?”

Wilder welcomed the opportunity to address that question. “Birth gives us the right,” he said, with a chuckle. “The idea that to judge the past by modern moral values is somehow ahistorical misunderstands what history is. History is the science of thinking about the past and how it influences the present.” The MIT community is capable of thinking about the past in constructive ways, he added. “One of the goals of the project is to create opportunities for us as a community — as communities — to wrestle with difficult issues in dialogue in a democratic and open way.”

Another community member asked one of the questions the project raises for education: “What would you say the implications of MIT’s findings are for teaching science and the history of science?” As an initial response, Kim noted that the “MIT and Slavery” course will itself be one example, continuing to research and share discoveries about the relationship between science, technology, and the social realities of which they are a part. She added, “We are asking people to think differently.”

Looking ahead

The value of this ongoing exploration is immeasurable, President Reif said. “If we have the courage to look at even the troubling parts of our history,” he said, “I believe we have a much better chance of approaching the present and the future with humility and self-awareness.”

The MIT and Legacy of Slavery dialogue will continue at MIT, led by Nobles who will announce plans for new opportunities to contribute ideas and reflections later this spring. The process Nobles envisions will be one of “looking at old things with new eyes.” In the meantime, and in parallel with the Institute-wide conversation, updates and information on the “MIT and Slavery” course findings will be posted to the course website.

Story prepared by SHASS Communications Editorial team: Meg Murphy and Emily Hiestand

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