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 and help prospects move in by partnering with the right home services and moving company. 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.

3 Questions: An anthropologist and a filmmaker on working-class lives in Chicago

The steel industry in the U.S. shrank dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s, with profound effects on the country’s industrial workforce. Suddenly, blue-collar workers who had spent their careers in the mills — often as part of multigenerational steelworking families — found themselves unable to earn a living as communities around them suffered and people lost the middle-class lives they had been fashioning. That process was chronicled in MIT anthropologist Christine Walley’s 2013 book “Exit Zero,” a case study of her own father’s travails as a southeast Chicago steelworker whose employer shut its mill in 1980. Walley’s husband, Chris Boebel, a filmmaker by training and media development director for MIT Open Learning, directed a documentary by the same name.

Now Walley and Boebel have teamed up on a related effort, the Southeast Chicago Archive and Storytelling Project, which explores working life and deindustrialization more broadly. Using video, photos, text, and museum artifacts, the site chronicles key events in labor history, and the multiethnic social milieu of blue-collar workers, to open a new window into America’s industrial heyday. The site is a collaboration between an MIT team and the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum; Walley and Boebel worked extensively with Jeff Soyk, a media artist who served as the project’s creative director, and Rod Sellers, volunteer director at the museum. The site officially launched on Sept. 6, Labor Day. MIT News spoke with Walley and Boebel about the new project.

Q: The downsizing of the steel industry was a huge jolt to blue-collar workers in the U.S. — and deindustrialization has been an important part of the U.S. landscape in recent decades, as you examined in the book book and film “Exit Zero.” How does the Southeast Chicago Archive and Storytelling Project relate to your previous work?

Walley: When I was working on the book and when Chris and I were working on the film, we used the materials from the museum on those projects. It’s an amazing space in this fieldhouse that’s crammed to the rafters. We think of it as the attic of Southeast Chicago.

The idea was to use the objects people saved and the stories they told, as a way to get at these larger historical questions about this working-class community and capture the diversity and richness of Southeast Chicago. We would pick what [MIT Professor] Sherry Turkle calls an evocative object, which has a lot of emotion and meaning for people, and used that to start. Chris shot video showing people now interacting with those objects.

Boebel: When Chris [Walley] started writing the book, and we were making the film, one of the key goals was to take her family history and tie it to these larger social forces and historical events — the changing economy, deindustrialization. The limitation is that there are things you can’t necessarily access through one family’s experiences. The history of race and ethnicity and immigration is much harder to access if you’re talking about one white working-class family living on the Southeast Side. We were looking for a way to use that same approach but broaden the perspective.

Q: The site features multimedia “storylines,” which are practically short documentaries in their own right. One is about Southeast Chicago’s “Memorial Day Massacre” of 1937, when 10 striking steelworkers were killed by police; another is about the area’s Mexican-American population. You say you will add new ones as well. Why did you choose those topics, to start?

Walley: The Memorial Day Massacre came out of a steel strike in the 1930s, when steelworkers were fighting for the right to unionize. The violence of that event captured the national imagination, so it was a real turning point. The aftermath led to a shift in public opinion around the place of unions. Long term, the steel unions were recognized right at the beginning of World War II, and [mill positions] became middle class jobs, until the steel mills started to close [around 1980]. It is a very intense storyline, and very violent. It suggests the incredible bravery of that generation, to get unionized labor and middle-class livelihoods. And since we’re living in a moment when work is incredibly precarious again, it’s instructive to look at what prior generations did to push for good jobs and an expanding middle class in the United States.

Boebel: There were other events like the Memorial Day Massacre, with violence and killing, but this one caught the public’s imagination [because] it was filmed.  And it was so far as I know the first time that had happened. There were other instances where workers were fired upon and killed or beaten, but people would say, “the strikers were rioting, we were defending ourselves.” That happened here, too: The police said there was a riot — and then the newsreel footage was shown. So, there was kind of a national reckoning, [including] a commission appointed by Congress.

The storyline [about Mexican-Americans] encompasses the experience of thousands of immigrants, [including] men from the Mexican parish in the neighborhood who died in the Vietnam War. More men lost their lives from that parish than any other parish in the country, so that gives you an idea of the sacrifice and incredible pain that community experienced during Vietnam. It’s also a window into the idea of being an American, and deals with ethnic conflict and racism at the same time those sacrifices were being made.

Walley: In recent years there’s been this resignifying of the working class in this country as the white working class, but if you look historically, the working class has always been incredibly diverse. Southeast Chicago [had immigrants] from different parts of Europe, but also Mexican immigrants and African-American migrants starting around World War I. Those who worked at factory jobs came from very different backgrounds — there was a great deal of conflict as well as periods of unified action, so we’re trying to capture it all.

Q: This project has rich visual media, detailed descriptions of artifacts from the museum, and these “storylines” as well. Why did you decide to create the archive this way?

Walley: There are a lot of amazing online archives these days, but sometimes you’ll see objects and get detailed metadata on them without really knowing who donated these items and what their significance was for the people who saved them. We tried to make the website friendly for people who might not know anything about industrial history. We have featured curations in the archive, and you can toggle back and forth between the storylines and the archive, so you can check out an object in depth, then go back [to the storyline]. We were trying to do a different kind of online archive by creating these entryways for audiences and building on the documentary format. … There is also a study guide for school students.

Boebel: One of the things that I’m always interested by, in museums, is when you see incredible objects displayed in a very clean, sterile way, with one card that gives you a little context. It allows you to appreciate the aesthetic quality of a vase or picture, but I’m always really, really curious about the story around it. With online archives, you can’t hold an object in your hand, you can’t get close to it, you can’t bask in its presence, but you can much more easily bring in all of that context. Our project is an attempt to do that.

Data flow’s decisive role on the global stage

In 2016, Meicen Sun came to a profound realization: “The control of digital information will lie at the heart of all the big questions and big contentions in politics.” A graduate student in her final year of study who is specializing in international security and the political economy of technology, Sun vividly recalls the emergence of the internet “as a democratizing force, an opener, an equalizer,” helping give rise to the Arab Spring. But she was also profoundly struck when nations in the Middle East and elsewhere curbed internet access to throttle citizens’ efforts to speak and mobilize freely.

During her undergraduate and graduate studies, which came to focus on China and its expanding global role, Sun became convinced that digital constraints initially intended to prevent the free flow of ideas were also having enormous and growing economic impacts.

“With an exceptionally high mobile internet adoption rate and the explosion of indigenous digital apps, China’s digital economy was surging, helping to drive the nation’s broader economic growth and international competitiveness,” Sun says. “Yet at the same time, the country maintained the most tightly controlled internet ecosystem in the world.”

Sun set out to explore this apparent paradox in her dissertation. Her research to date has yielded both novel findings and troubling questions.  

“Through its control of the internet, China has in effect provided protectionist benefits to its own data-intensive domestic sectors,” she says. “If there is a benefit to imposing internet control, given the absence of effective international regulations, does this give authoritarian states an advantage in trade and national competitiveness?” Following this thread, Sun asks, “What might this mean for the future of democracy as the world grows increasingly dependent on digital technology?”

Protect or innovate

Early in her graduate program, classes in capitalism and technology and public policy, says Sun, “cemented for me the idea of data as a factor of production, and the importance of cross-border information flow in making a country innovative.” This central premise serves as a springboard for Sun’s doctoral studies.

In a series of interconnected research papers using China as her primary case, she is examining the double-edged nature of internet limits. “They accord protectionist benefits to domestic data-internet-intensive sectors, on the one hand, but on the other, act as a potential longer-term deterrent to the country’s capacity to innovate.”

To pursue her doctoral project, advised by professor of political science Kenneth Oye, Sun is extracting data from a multitude of sources, including a website that has been routinely testing web domain accessibility from within China since 2011. This allows her to pin down when and to what degree internet control occurs. She can then compare this information to publicly available records on the expansion or contraction of data-intensive industrial sectors, enabling her to correlate internet control to a sector’s performance.

Sun has also compiled datasets for firm-level revenue, scientific citations, and patents that permit her to measure aspects of China’s innovation culture. In analyzing her data she leverages both quantitative and qualitative methods, including one co-developed by her dissertation co-advisor, associate professor of political science In Song Kim. Her initial analysis suggests internet control prevents scholars from accessing knowledge available on foreign websites, and that if sustained, such control could take a toll on the Chinese economy over time.

Of particular concern is the possibility that the economic success that flows from strict internet controls, as exemplified by the Chinese model, may encourage the rise of similar practices among emerging states or those in political flux.

“The grim implication of my research is that without international regulation on information flow restrictions, democracies will be at a disadvantage against autocracies,” she says. “No matter how short-term or narrow these curbs are, they confer concrete benefits on certain economic sectors.”

Data, politics, and economy

Sun got a quick start as a student of China and its role in the world. She was born in Xiamen, a coastal Chinese city across from Taiwan, to academic parents who cultivated her interest in international politics. “My dad would constantly talk to me about global affairs, and he was passionate about foreign policy,” says Sun.

Eager for education and a broader view of the world, Sun took a scholarship at 15 to attend school in Singapore. “While this experience exposed me to a variety of new ideas and social customs, I felt the itch to travel even farther away, and to meet people with different backgrounds and viewpoints from mine,” than she says.

Sun attended Princeton University where, after two years sticking to her “comfort zone” — writing and directing plays and composing music for them — she underwent a process of intellectual transition. Political science classes opened a window onto a larger landscape to which she had long been connected: China’s behavior as a rising power and the shifting global landscape.

She completed her undergraduate degree in politics, and followed up with a master’s degree in international relations at the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused on China-U.S. relations and China’s participation in international institutions. She was on the path to completing a PhD at Penn when, Sun says, “I became confident in my perception that digital technology, and especially information sharing, were becoming critically important factors in international politics, and I felt a strong desire to devote my graduate studies, and even my career, to studying these topics,”

Certain that the questions she hoped to pursue could best be addressed through an interdisciplinary approach with those working on similar issues, Sun began her doctoral program anew at MIT.

“Doer mindset”

Sun is hopeful that her doctoral research will prove useful to governments, policymakers, and business leaders. “There are a lot of developing states actively shopping between data governance and development models for their own countries,” she says. “My findings around the pros and cons of information flow restrictions should be of interest to leaders in these places, and to trade negotiators and others dealing with the global governance of data and what a fair playing field for digital trade would be.”

Sun has engaged directly with policy and industry experts through her fellowships with the World Economic Forum and the Pacific Forum. And she has embraced questions that touch on policy outside of her immediate research: Sun is collaborating with her dissertation co-advisor, MIT Sloan Professor Yasheng Huang, on a study of the political economy of artificial intelligence in China for the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future.

This year, as she writes her dissertation papers, Sun will be based at Georgetown University, where she has a Mortara Center Global Political Economy Project Predoctoral Fellowship. In Washington, she will continue her journey to becoming a “policy-minded scholar, a thinker with a doer mindset, whose findings have bearing on things that happen in the world.”

How quickly do algorithms improve?

Algorithms are sort of like a parent to a computer. They tell the computer how to make sense of information so they can, in turn, make something useful out of it.

The more efficient the algorithm, the less work the computer has to do. For all of the technological progress in computing hardware, and the much debated lifespan of Moore’s Law, computer performance is only one side of the picture.

Behind the scenes a second trend is happening: Algorithms are being improved, so in turn less computing power is needed. While algorithmic efficiency may have less of a spotlight, you’d definitely notice if your trusty search engine suddenly became one-tenth as fast, or if moving through big datasets felt like wading through sludge.

This led scientists from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) to ask: How quickly do algorithms improve?  

Existing data on this question were largely anecdotal, consisting of case studies of particular algorithms that were assumed to be representative of the broader scope. Faced with this dearth of evidence, the team set off to crunch data from 57 textbooks and more than 1,110 research papers, to trace the history of when algorithms got better. Some of the research papers directly reported how good new algorithms were, and others needed to be reconstructed by the authors using “pseudocode,” shorthand versions of the algorithm that describe the basic details.

In total, the team looked at 113 “algorithm families,” sets of algorithms solving the same problem that had been highlighted as most important by computer science textbooks. For each of the 113, the team reconstructed its history, tracking each time a new algorithm was proposed for the problem and making special note of those that were more efficient. Ranging in performance and separated by decades, starting from the 1940s to now, the team found an average of eight algorithms per family, of which a couple improved its efficiency. To share this assembled database of knowledge, the team also created

The scientists charted how quickly these families had improved, focusing on the most-analyzed feature of the algorithms — how fast they could guarantee to solve the problem (in computer speak: “worst-case time complexity”). What emerged was enormous variability, but also important insights on how transformative algorithmic improvement has been for computer science.

For large computing problems, 43 percent of algorithm families had year-on-year improvements that were equal to or larger than the much-touted gains from Moore’s Law. In 14 percent of problems, the improvement to performance from algorithms vastly outpaced those that have come from improved hardware. The gains from algorithm improvement were particularly large for big-data problems, so the importance of those advancements has grown in recent decades.

The single biggest change that the authors observed came when an algorithm family transitioned from exponential to polynomial complexity. The amount of effort it takes to solve an exponential problem is like a person trying to guess a combination on a lock. If you only have a single 10-digit dial, the task is easy. With four dials like a bicycle lock, it’s hard enough that no one steals your bike, but still conceivable that you could try every combination. With 50, it’s almost impossible — it would take too many steps. Problems that have exponential complexity are like that for computers: As they get bigger they quickly outpace the ability of the computer to handle them. Finding a polynomial algorithm often solves that, making it possible to tackle problems in a way that no amount of hardware improvement can.

As rumblings of Moore’s Law coming to an end rapidly permeate global conversations, the researchers say that computing users will increasingly need to turn to areas like algorithms for performance improvements. The team says the findings confirm that historically, the gains from algorithms have been enormous, so the potential is there. But if gains come from algorithms instead of hardware, they’ll look different. Hardware improvement from Moore’s Law happens smoothly over time, and for algorithms the gains come in steps that are usually large but infrequent. 

“This is the first paper to show how fast algorithms are improving across a broad range of examples,” says Neil Thompson, an MIT research scientist at CSAIL and the Sloan School of Management and senior author on the new paper. “Through our analysis, we were able to say how many more tasks could be done using the same amount of computing power after an algorithm improved. As problems increase to billions or trillions of data points, algorithmic improvement becomes substantially more important than hardware improvement. In an era where the environmental footprint of computing is increasingly worrisome, this is a way to improve businesses and other organizations without the downside.”

Thompson wrote the paper alongside MIT visiting student Yash Sherry. The paper is published in the Proceedings of the IEEE. The work was funded by the Tides foundation and the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.

Making self-driving cars safer through keener robot perception

Aviation became a reality in the early 20th century, but it took 20 years before the proper safety precautions enabled widespread adoption of air travel. Today, the future of fully autonomous vehicles is similarly cloudy, due in large part to safety concerns.

To accelerate that timeline, graduate student Heng “Hank” Yang and his collaborators have developed the first set of “certifiable perception” algorithms, which could help protect the next generation of self-driving vehicles — and the vehicles they share the road with.

Though Yang is now a rising star in his field, it took many years before he decided to research robotics and autonomous systems. Raised in China’s Jiangsu province, he completed his undergraduate degree with top honors from Tsinghua University. His time in college was spent studying everything from honeybees to cell mechanics. “My curiosity drove me to study a lot of things. Over time, I started to drift more toward mechanical engineering, as it intersects with so many other fields,” says Yang.

Yang went on to pursue a master’s in mechanical engineering at MIT, where he worked on improving an ultrasound imaging system to track liver fibrosis. To reach his engineering goal, Yang decided to take a class about designing algorithms to control robots.

“The class also covered mathematical optimization, which involves adapting abstract formulas to model almost everything in the world,” says Yang. “I learned a neat solution to tie up the loose ends of my thesis. It amazed me how powerful computation can be toward optimizing design. From there, I knew it was the right field for me to explore next.”

Algorithms for certified accuracy

Yang is now a graduate student in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), where he works with Luca Carlone, the Leonardo Career Development Associate Professor in Engineering, on the challenge of certifiable perception. When robots sense their surroundings, they must use algorithms to make estimations about the environment and their location. “But these perception algorithms are designed to be fast, with little guarantee of whether the robot has succeeded in gaining a correct understanding of its surroundings,” says Yang. “That’s one of the biggest existing problems. Our lab is working to design ‘certified’ algorithms that can tell you if these estimations are correct.”

For example, robot perception begins with the robot capturing an image, such as a self-driving car taking a snapshot of an approaching car. The image goes through a machine-learning system called a neural network, which generates key points within the image about the approaching car’s mirrors, wheels, doors, etc. From there, lines are drawn that seek to trace the detected keypoints on the 2D car image to the labeled 3D keypoints in a 3D car model. “We must then solve an optimization problem to rotate and translate the 3D model to align with the key points on the image,” Yang says. “This 3D model will help the robot understand the real-world environment.”

Each traced line must be analyzed to see if it has created a correct match. Since there are many key points that could be matched incorrectly (for example, the neural network could mistakenly recognize a mirror as a door handle), this problem is “non-convex” and hard to solve. Yang says that his team’s algorithm, which won the Best Paper Award in Robot Vision at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), smooths the non-convex problem to become convex, and finds successful matches. “If the match isn’t correct, our algorithm will know how to continue trying until it finds the best solution, known as the global minimum. A certificate is given when there are no better solutions,” he explains.

“These certifiable algorithms have a huge potential impact, because tools like self-driving cars must be robust and trustworthy. Our goal is to make it so a driver will receive an alert to take over the steering wheel if the perception system has failed.”  

Adapting their model to different cars

When matching the 2D image with the 3D model, one assumption is that the 3D model will align with the identified type of car. But what happens if the imaged car has a shape that the robot has never seen in its library? “We now need to both estimate the position of the car and reconstruct the shape of the model,” says Yang.

The team has figured out a way to navigate around this challenge. The 3D model gets morphed to match the 2D image by undergoing a linear combination of previously identified vehicles. For example, the model could shift from being an Audi to a Hyundai as it registers the correct build of the actual car. Identifying the approaching car’s dimensions is key to preventing collisions. This work earned Yang and his team a Best Paper Award Finalist at the Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) Conference, where Yang was also named an RSS Pioneer.

In addition to presenting at international conferences, Yang enjoys discussing and sharing his research with the general public. He recently shared his work on certifiable perception during MIT’s first research SLAM public showcase. He also co-organized the first virtual LIDS student conference alongside industry leaders. His favorite talks focused on ways to combine theory and practice, such as Kimon Drakopoulos’ use of AI algorithms to guide how to allocate Greece’s Covid-19 testing resources. “Something that stuck with me was how he really emphasized what these rigorous analytical tools can do to benefit social good,” says Yang.

Yang plans to continue researching challenging problems that address safe and trustworthy autonomy by pursuing a career in academia. His dream of becoming a professor is also fueled by his love of mentoring others, which he enjoys doing in Carlone’s lab. He hopes his future work will lead to more discoveries that will work to protect people’s lives. “I think many are realizing that the existing set of solutions we have to promote human safety are not sufficient,” says Yang. “In order to achieve trustworthy autonomy, it is time for us to embrace a diverse set of tools to design the next generation of safe perception algorithms.”

“There must always be a failsafe, since none of our human-made systems can be perfect. I believe it will take the power of both rigorous theory and computation to revolutionize what we can successfully unveil to the public.”

Study: As a population gets older, automation accelerates

You might think robots and other forms of workplace automation gain traction due to intrinsic advances in technology — that innovations naturally find their way into the economy. But a study co-authored by an MIT professor tells a different story: Robots are more widely adopted where populations become notably older, filling the gaps in an aging industrial work force.

“Demographic change — aging — is one of the most important factors leading to the adoption of robotics and other automation technologies,” says Daron Acemoglu, an MIT economist and co-author of a new paper detailing the results of the study.

The study finds that when it comes to the adoption of robots, aging alone accounts for 35 percent of the variation among countries. Within the U.S., the research shows the same pattern: Metro areas where the population is getting older at a faster rate are the places where industry invests more in robots. 

“We provide a lot of evidence to bolster the case that this is a causal relationship, and it is driven by precisely the industries that are most affected by aging and have opportunities for automating work,” Acemoglu adds.

The paper, “Demographics and Automation,” has been published online by The Review of Economic Studies, and will be appearing in a forthcoming print edition of the journal. The authors are Acemoglu, an Institute Professor at MIT, and Pascual Restrepo PhD ’16, an assistant professor of economics at Boston University.

An “amazing frontier,” but driven by labor shortages

The current study is the latest in a series of papers Acemoglu and Restrepo have published about automation, robots, and the workforce. They have previously quantified job displacement in the U.S. due to robots, looked at the firm-level effects of robot use, and identified the late 1980s as a key moment when automation started replacing more jobs than it was creating.

This study involves multiple layers of demographic, technological, and industry-level data, largely from the early 1990s through the mid-2010s. First, Acemoglu and Restrepo found a strong relationship between an aging work force — defined by the ratio of workers 56 and older to those ages 21 to 55 — and robot deployment in 60 countries. Aging alone accounted for not only 35 percent of the variation in robot use among countries, but also 20 percent of the variation in imports of robots, the researchers found.

Other data points involving particular countries also stand out. South Korea has been the country both aging most rapidly and implementing robotics most extensively. And Germany’s relatively older population accounts for 80 percent of the difference in robot implementation between that country and the U.S.

Overall, Acemoglu says, “Our findings suggest that quite a bit of investment in robotics is not driven by the fact that this is the next ‘amazing frontier,’ but because some countries have shortages of labor, especially middle-aged labor that would be necessary for blue-collar work.”

Digging into a wide variety of industry-level data across 129 countries, Acemoglu and Restrepo concluded that what holds for robots also applies to other, nonrobotic types of automation.

“We find the same thing when we look at other automation technologies, such as numerically controlled machinery or automated machine tools,” Acemoglu says. Significantly, at the same time, he observes, “We do not find similar relationships when we look at nonautomated machinery, for example nonautomated machine tools or things such as computers.”

The research likely sheds light on larger-scale trends as well. In recent decades, workers have fared better economically in Germany than in the U.S. The current research suggests there is a difference between adopting automation in response to labor shortages, as opposed to adopting automation as a cost-cutting, worker-replacing strategy. In Germany, robots have entered the workplace more to compensate for the absence of workers; in the U.S., relatively more robot adoption has displaced a slightly younger workforce.

“This is a potential explanation for why South Korea, Japan, and Germany — the leaders in robot investment and the most rapidly aging countries in the world — have not seen labor market outcomes [as bad] as those in the U.S.,” Acemoglu notes.

Back in the U.S.

Having examined demographics and robot usage globally, Acemoglu and Restrepo applied the same techniques to studying automation in the roughly 700 “commuting zones” (essentially, metro areas) in the U.S. from 1990 to 2015, while controlling for factors like the industrial composition of the local economy and labor trends.

Overall, the same global trend also applied within the U.S.: Older workforce populations saw greater adoption of robots after 1990. Specifically, the study found that a 10-percentage-point increase in local population aging led to a 6.45-percentage-point increase in presence of robot “integrators” in the area — firms specializing in installing and maintaining industrial robots.

The study’s data sources included population and economic statistics from multiple United Nations sources, including the UN Comtrade data on international economic activity; technology and industry data from the International Federation of Robotics; and U.S. demographic and economic statistics from multiple government sources. On top of their other layers of analysis, Acemoglu and Restrepo also studied patent data and found a “strong association” between aging and patents in automation, as Acemoglu puts it. “Which makes sense,” he adds.

For their part, Acemoglu and Restrepo are continuing to look at the effects of artificial intelligence on the workforce, and to research the relationship between workplace automation and economic inequality.

Support for the study was provided, in part, by Google, Microsoft, the National Science Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Toulouse Network on Information Technology.

Why the future of textiles is collaborative

When MIT and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) joined forces to advance textile research and to develop and employ sustainable fabrics of the future, they found that their work was so synergistic that they were compelled to write an instruction manual about their multi-year partnership so that other organizations could replicate their process and benefit from their work.

“Transdisciplinary Innovation Playbook: How to build a virtual workshop that collapses walls between design and engineering and kick-starts collaboration to solve real world problems” codifies the partnership between MIT, FIT, and the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), which supported the work, into something of a template that other institutions can follow in order to develop their own innovative programs.

The playbook — based around MIT and FIT’s design and engineering synergy — is a model for successfully embarking on innovative partnerships. The manual offers step-by-step considerations for how to build interdisciplinary workshops that prepare students to think beyond their specializations and to tackle real-world problems together. It covers how to find an industry partner and what matters in a successful partnership, how to build an effective challenge, how to recruit faculty, how to plan a budget, and how to create a curriculum. “Use our story to write your own,” the playbook encourages.

Multiyear partnership

In 2017, after a meeting between FIT President Joyce F. Brown and MIT President L. Rafael Reif, Joanne Arbuckle, former deputy to the president for industry partnerships and collaborative programs at FIT, and Gregory C. Rutledge, the Lammot du Pont Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT, created a plan to build a bridge between design and engineering — and to help boost the textile industry along the way.

How and why might their two missions merge? MIT scientists are advancing textile research that could change the world, while FIT designers, long renowned for their creativity, are developing the sustainable fabrics of the future. The overlapping synergies seemed destined for collaboration. What unexpected discoveries might occur if these students worked together? FIT and MIT wanted to find out and approached AFFOA to help realize this vision.

The playbook is an outgrowth of the resulting multiyear partnership. Since 2018, students from each institution have participated in three workshops during which they gather in small teams to develop product concepts exploring the use of advanced fibers and fabric technology. The workshops — which have pivoted to a remote experience since the Covid-19 pandemic — have been held collaboratively with AFFOA. AFFOA is a Cambridge, Massachusetts–based nonprofit public-private partnership whose mission is to rekindle the domestic textiles industry by leading a nationwide enterprise for advanced fiber and fabric technology development and manufacturing, enabling revolutionary system capabilities for national security and commercial markets. A key part of AFFOA’s mission is to inspire, prepare, and grow the next-generation workforce for the advanced fiber and fabric industry.

Part of the students’ work has been the opportunity to respond to a project challenge posed by footwear and apparel manufacturer New Balance, a member of the AFFOA network. Students spent their first week in Cambridge learning new technologies at MIT and the second at FIT, working on projects and prototypes.

“Collaboration and teamwork are DNA-level attributes of the New Balance workplace,” says Chris Wawrousek, senior creative design lead in the New Balance Innovation Studio. “We were very excited to participate in the program from a multitude of perspectives. The program allowed us to see some of the emerging research in the field of technical textiles. In some cases, these technologies are still very nascent, but give us a window into future developments.”

Many ideas

Over the years, teams of students have developed innovative and forward-thinking projects that have moved the needle on design and technology. A few examples of the teams are:

  • Team Natural Futurism, which presented a concept to develop a biodegradable lifestyle shoe using natural material alternatives, including bacterial cellulose and mycelium, and advanced fiber concepts to avoid use of chemical dyes;
  • Team CoMIT to Safety Before ProFIT, which explored the various ways that runners get hurt, sometimes from acute injuries but more often from overuse;
  • Team Peacock, which prototyped athletic apparel with color-changing material to highlight an athlete’s movement and quickly analyze motion through an app;
  • Team Ecollab, which designed apparel and footwear using PE (polyethylene) and color changing material that is multifaceted and environmentally conscious; and
  • Team Laboratory 56, which created footwear to enhance longevity of product and reduce waste using PE, while connecting with the community through a recycling app program.

“We’re excited to see how the release of this playbook opens up the minds of students across the country to the possibility of working in an interdisciplinary environment, and in advanced textiles. We see a continuing need for a workforce that is agile, innovative, and able to apply higher-order thinking to develop the future of the industry, and believe this playbook will play a part in that development,” says Sasha Stolyarov, CEO of AFFOA.

“These kinds of partnerships are so valuable for both teams — the design students get to work in a team environment engaging in the latest technologies, while the engineering students use their creativity in a new way,” says Arbuckle. “So if the MIT/FIT collaboration can be a model for other institutions to do something similar, then these kinds of interactions and the invention of products they create together can help define our future.”

“When designers and engineers come together and open their minds to creating new technologies that ultimately will impact the world, we can imagine exciting new multi-material fibers that reveal a new spectrum of applications,” says Yuly Fuentes, MIT Materials Research Laboratory project manager for fiber technologies. “Being able to share what we’ve learned through this playbook brings this process to a different level and makes it possible that this kind of thinking will become more widespread.”

3 Questions: Jean-Jacques Degroof SM ’93, PhD ’02 on how MIT became an entrepreneurial powerhouse

There are tens of thousands of companies founded by MIT alumni operating around the world today. Those companies employ millions of people and generated nearly $2 trillion in annual revenue as of 2015. To train the next generation of founders, MIT offers more than 200 resources dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, including more than 80 courses and dozens of extracurricular activities.

So how did MIT get here, and what makes the Institute’s entrepreneurial community so prolific? In his new book, “From the Basement to the Dome: How MIT’s Unique Culture Created a Thriving Entrepreneurial Community,” Jean-Jacques Degroof SM ’93, PhD ’02, a venture investor, dives into the history of MIT entrepreneurship, before carefully detailing the state of affairs today and offering some lessons learned.

It turns out, things didn’t always used to be this way, and MIT’s entrepreneurial support structures look much different from what they looked like even 10 years ago. MIT News spoke with Degroof about some of the findings in his new book.

Q: How did MIT become so entrepreneurial?

A: The short answer is, primarily from the bottom up. Until the early 2010s, interest in entrepreneurship materialized through a myriad of local, informal initiatives, primarily in the extracurricular arena; MIT’s central administration did not have a deliberate policy toward entrepreneurship on campus. In the late ’60s and ’70s, some young alumni entrepreneurs in Boston convinced the alumni office to organize the first series of entrepreneurship-focused seminars. It was a huge and unexpected success. That eventually led to the MIT Enterprise Forum, run by MIT alumni. Then in the late ’80s, students from the School of Engineering and the MIT Sloan School of Management launched the Entrepreneurship Club and the Sloan New Venture Association (SNVA). They started the $10K Business Plan Competition (which eventually became the successful $100K Entrepreneurship Competition).

In 1990, Professor Ed Roberts of Sloan, a pioneer in entrepreneurship on campus, founded the Entrepreneurship Center, now the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, in response to student requests for guidance in starting new businesses.

From there, student clubs, entrepreneurial competitions, and other entities providing support to entrepreneurs multiplied over the years, especially during and since the internet era. This was all thanks to the efforts of alumni, students, and individual faculty and staff members, who lobbied their administrations.

Following the growing interest of students, Sloan and the Media Lab in particular developed course offerings. Another turning point was after the 2008 financial crisis. As traditional large employers hired fewer graduates, entrepreneurship appeared for the first time as a valid career path for students.

Students were also attracted to entrepreneurial firms because of promising technological developments in the mid to late 2000s. The iPhone launched in 2007, there was the internet of things, cloud computing, the genome revolution, the convergence of biotech and information technology, engineering at the nanoscale, clean energy, and the explosion of real-time information in general. The center of gravity of the economy was increasingly moving from the traditional employers to new, disrupting firms.

Around that time, roughly 2010, MIT’s central administration more formally embraced entrepreneurship with the Innovation Initiative and programs like the minor in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Q: You argue that MIT’s culture has been a fertile ground for entrepreneurship. What specific parts of MIT’s culture do you think align with entrepreneurship?

A: There is an excellent fit between several elements of MIT’s culture and entrepreneurship:

  • Openness to bottom-up initiatives and decision making. This is particularly strong at the level of MIT centers and laboratories. They are set up by individual faculty members — who need to find funding to sustain their lab. As such, they are academic entrepreneurs in a way.
  • Excellence. MIT ranks among the best universities in the world, so excellence is a core value. Launching and growing a company can feel like hell at times and requires excellence and dedication. The MIT experience absolutely prepares its people for uphill battles and humbling experiences.
  • Learning by doing and problem solving. Since its founding, MIT has put a lot of emphasis on experiential learning through lab work and internships, for instance. Similarly, entrepreneurship requires you to go out into the real world and iterate on your ideas.
  • Experimenting and tolerance to failure. Entrepreneurship fits perfectly into such an approach because it is also a process of experimentation and trial and error.
  • Multidisciplinarity. Solving real-world problems often requires solutions combining multiple approaches. Innovating through entrepreneurship generally requires people to think outside of the box and imagine solutions that often involve several disciplines. One of the few reliable rules drawn from research in entrepreneurship is that diverse teams of startup founders perform better.
  • Impact. MIT’s motto, mens et manus (“mind and hand” in Latin), and its logo — which features the scholar and the craftsman in parallel positions — reflect the ideal of cooperation between knowledge and practice, but also a concern about impact. Entrepreneurship fits this philosophy perfectly as a process to make impact on the world.
  • Embracing the outsider. For a long time, MIT was seen as an outsider by its peers in academia and looked upon as a mere vocational school. This identity of being an outsider is still alive in the MIT community, but it is accompanied by a sense of pride in being disruptors, upstarts, and even a bit geeky. Having an identity outside the establishment fits entrepreneurs well, who by definition try to challenge incumbents.

All this illustrates that MIT’s environment is difficult to replicate.

Q: What do you hope this book teaches readers about supporting entrepreneurship?

A: It is important to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that builds on one’s institution’s culture, or at least does not go against it. Simply copying and pasting another institution’s model is not a promising approach. Entrepreneurship training should also go beyond simply pitching a business plan. One should not underestimate the resources required for putting in place an entrepreneurship curriculum. Institutions that do not have the required scale should consider pooling resources with peer institutions.

Developing an entrepreneurship curriculum and internal ecosystem should also involve a variety of stakeholders, including large corporations, providers of risk capital, and government. The involvement of alumni is particularly key because they can contribute as lecturers, mentors, and donors. They can also be a channel to other stakeholders, all of which can facilitate the promotion of entrepreneurship locally.

The laws of physics and the physics of law

When Obiageli “Oby” Nwodoh arrived at MIT, she already felt at home. A native of Bedford, Massachusetts, she was the daughter of Thomas Nwodoh, a former MIT Media Lab researcher; her first physics teacher at Bedford High was an MIT alum, Joe Zahka; and she had participated in the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) program.

At MIT, she studied physics, excelling in research, data analytics, machine learning, and computer programming. “I fell in love with physics because it touched reality,” says Nwodoh. “I had a way of explaining the world in numbers when words were challenging. It was learning a new language and using it to describe the world.”

But her interests began to drift toward economic justice. Away from home, she slowly began to understand the economic inequality her family had always experienced. Though unaware as a child, she later learned her family benefited from certain antipoverty initiatives. “It helped us immensely with paying bills, funding extracurricular programs, and more,” she says.

The final click for her was during an internship with a defense contractor, which didn’t match with her political views. She wanted to take her career in a more people-focused direction, so as a sophomore, she enrolled in classes and extracurricular activities that stoked her interests in social justice, science activism, public policy, and equity and diversity.

That’s when dawned on this physics student that she wanted to be a lawyer. And she was surprised at how well the two disparate fields complemented each other.

“The law requires the critical thinking offered by physics,” she says. “With both, there is always the need to observe global issues, obtain necessary data, and use some framework to find a solution. I wanted to solve hard world problems, but those that helped people. The law was an outlet to solving major world issues that I experienced as a child. I believe that in America, we are so comfortable with poverty. The law has been a way to change that, along with many other issues.”

Nwodoh worked for several summers with Greater Boston Legal Services’ low-income tax clinic, on cases pertaining to taxes, immigration, and employment. “It was meaningful because I was solving so many issues my own single mother faced,” she says.

By the second summer with GBLS, her work was helping with pandemic stimulus checks. “What really opened up my eyes was how the pandemic affected low-income populations,” she says. “The stimulus provided money for people, but I didn’t hear enough about people who didn’t receive the checks, including immigrants and many people receiving federal assistance through welfare. There were a lot of forgotten people in the pandemic. My work at GBLS solidified my interest in the law and how much impact it could have.” 

As a host for the Division of Student Life’s podcast “MIT Is…” Nwodoh and her co-host Gabe Owens ’21 explored everything from MIT student life to global issues. She turned some of her research projects into podcasts about immigration, minority voter suppression, and the U.S. tax code, and another podcast turned into a research project where she examined how tax credits could be distributed in the state of New York to maximize payout. “I have dreams of starting my own show one day,” she says. 

Nwodoh later worked with the Harvard College Black Pre-Law Association, before helping launch the MIT Pre-Law Society to connect students with relevant career opportunities, classes, and resources. She also was active with the National Society of Black Engineers, and was a peer career advisor at MIT’s Career Advising and Professional Development office. “So many face imposter syndrome, both academically and professionally. Being able to hype a student up and reassure them of their capabilities always filled me with joy,” she says.

Her physics education continued to play a role in her legal work. When she researched policing and voting, and steered various projects as a virtual racial justice data analyst intern with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, she relied on her skills as a scientist.

“I saw how there was a plethora of data in the world, but not as many people who knew how to use it. Though my experience was short, it inspired me to learn more about data analytics and how it could be useful in the law, ethics, and other fields.”

After graduating this spring with a major in physics and a minor in political science, she became a program paralegal at Ropes and Gray in Chicago, and is looking into law schools. She hopes to focus on technology, such as the impact that algorithm bias has on vulnerable populations.

I have cherished how being a physicist has prepared me to not be a physicist,” she says. “Physics taught me the importance of problem-solving which could be applied in other areas of my life and interests. The technical skills could be used to ‘hack’ different parts of my world. Physics and the law come down to the same thing: interacting with the world in a profound way. MIT taught me that there is always space for my skills in every nook and cranny of the world’s biggest questions. I feel like my work as a physicist has prepared me to delve deeper into any issue, and holds me to an ethical standard of doing so.”

Study: Crowds can wise up to fake news

In the face of grave concerns about misinformation, social media networks and news organizations often employ fact-checkers to sort the real from the false. But fact-checkers can only assess a small portion of the stories floating around online.

A new study by MIT researchers suggests an alternate approach: Crowdsourced accuracy judgements from groups of normal readers can be virtually as effective as the work of professional fact-checkers.

“One problem with fact-checking is that there is just way too much content for professional fact-checkers to be able to cover, especially within a reasonable time frame,” says Jennifer Allen, a PhD student at the MIT Sloan School of Management  and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the study.

But the current study, examining over 200 news stories that Facebook’s algorithms had flagged for further scrutiny, may have found a way to address that problem, by using relatively small, politically balanced groups of lay readers to evaluate the headlines and lead sentences of news stories.

“We found it to be encouraging,” says Allen. “The average rating of a crowd of 10 to 15 people correlated as well with the fact-checkers’ judgments as the fact-checkers correlated with each other. This helps with the scalability problem because these raters were regular people without fact-checking training, and they just read the headlines and lead sentences without spending the time to do any research.”

That means the crowdsourcing method could be deployed widely — and cheaply. The study estimates that the cost of having readers evaluate news this way is about $0.90 per story.

“There’s no one thing that solves the problem of false news online,” says David Rand, a professor at MIT Sloan and senior co-author of the study. “But we’re working to add promising approaches to the anti-misinformation tool kit.”

The paper, “Scaling up Fact-Checking Using the Wisdom of Crowds,” is being published today in Science Advances. The co-authors are Allen; Antonio A. Arechar, a research scientist at the MIT Human Cooperation Lab; Gordon Pennycook, an assistant professor of behavioral science at University of Regina’s Hill/Levene Schools of Business; and Rand, who is the Erwin H. Schell Professor and a professor of management science and brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, and director of MIT’s Applied Cooperation Lab.

A critical mass of readers

To conduct the study, the researchers used 207 news articles that an internal Facebook algorithm identified as being in need of fact-checking, either because there was reason to believe they were problematic or simply because they were being widely shared or were about important topics like health. The experiment deployed 1,128 U.S. residents using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform.

Those participants were given the headline and lead sentence of 20 news stories and were asked seven questions — how much the story was “accurate,” “true,” “reliable,” “trustworthy,” “objective,” “unbiased,” and “describ[ing] an event that actually happened” — to generate an overall accuracy score about each news item.

At the same time, three professional fact-checkers were given all 207 stories —asked to evaluate the stories after researching them. In line with other studies on fact-checking, although the ratings of the fact-checkers were highly correlated with each other, their agreement was far from perfect. In about 49 percent of cases, all three fact-checkers agreed on the proper verdict about a story’s facticity; around 42 percent of the time, two of the three fact-checkers agreed; and about 9 percent of the time, the three fact-checkers each had different ratings.

Intriguingly, when the regular readers recruited for the study were sorted into groups with the same number of Democrats and Republicans, their average ratings were highly correlated with the professional fact-checkers’ ratings — and with at least a double-digit number of readers involved, the crowd’s ratings correlated as strongly with the fact-checkers as the fact-checkers’ did with each other.

“These readers weren’t trained in fact-checking, and they were only reading the headlines and lead sentences, and even so they were able to match the performance of the fact-checkers,” Allen says.

While it might seem initially surprising that a crowd of 12 to 20 readers could match the performance of professional fact-checkers, this is another example of a classic phenomenon: the wisdom of crowds. Across a wide range of applications, groups of laypeople have been found to match or exceed the performance of expert judgments. The current study shows this can occur even in the highly polarizing context of misinformation identification.

The experiment’s participants also took a political knowledge test and a test of their tendency to think analytically. Overall, the ratings of people who were better informed about civic issues and engaged in more analytical thinking were more closely aligned with the fact-checkers.

“People that engaged in more reasoning and were more knowledgeable agreed more with the fact-checkers,” Rand says. “And that was true regardless of whether they were Democrats or Republicans.”

Participation mechanisms

The scholars say the finding could be applied in many ways — and note that some social media behemoths are actively trying to make crowdsourcing work. Facebook has a program, called Community Review, where laypeople are hired to assess news content; Twitter has its own project, Birdwatch, soliciting reader input about the veracity of tweets. The wisdom of crowds can be used either to help apply public-facing labels to content, or to inform ranking algorithms and what content people are shown in the first place.

To be sure, the authors note, any organization using crowdsourcing needs to find a good mechanism for participation by readers. If participation is open to everyone, it is possible the crowdsourcing process could be unfairly influenced by partisans.

“We haven’t yet tested this in an environment where anyone can opt in,” Allen notes. “Platforms shouldn’t necessarily expect that other crowdsourcing strategies would produce equally positive results.”

On the other hand, Rand says, news and social media organizations would have to find ways to get a large enough groups of people actively evaluating news items, in order to make the crowdsourcing work.

“Most people don’t care about politics and care enough to try to influence things,” Rand says. “But the concern is that if you let people rate any content they want, then the only people doing it will be the ones who want to game the system. Still, to me, a bigger concern than being swamped by zealots is the problem that no one would do it. It is a classic public goods problem: Society at large benefits from people identifying misinformation, but why should users bother to invest the time and effort to give ratings?”

The study was supported, in part, by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Reset project of Omidyar Group’s Luminate Project Limited. Allen is a former Facebook employee who still has a financial interest in Facebook; other studies by Rand are supported, in part, by Google.

Transformative truth-telling at the MIT Open Documentary Lab

A man’s ghostly voice speak-sings from the black screen: “Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetops …” It’s a tentative voice, unused to intoning lullabies, the voice of a man who was just released from prison. When he was convicted, his twin children were 45 days old. Now, they’re 21. This father’s voice is one of dozens collected in the ongoing documentary project “A Father’s Lullaby” by current MIT Open Documentary Lab Fellow Rashin Fahandej. It comprises a compilation of recorded lullabies and oral histories from incarcerated fathers separated from their young children. The project has taken such forms as a geo-located sound installation and an award-winning museum exhibition.

This inventive and moving inventory of lost lullabies is one of many examples of the boundary-pushing creative works that are found in the MIT Open Documentary Lab (ODL) archive — a deep archive known as the Docubase. Others include a poetic city symphony of Nairobi in virtual reality, a hybrid animated documentary and virtual reality game that tells the story of an Egyptian lesbian couple, and a participatory oral history of immigrant communities in Los Angeles. Many of these projects can also be described as “transmedia”— a term for works that extend beyond a single medium while playing to the strengths of each one.  

Docubase, which takes the form of a vast website repository, is only one facet of the ODL’s ongoing mission to explore and incubate innovative forms of documentary using emerging technologies and techniques, among them cell phone recordings, virtual and augmented reality, and deep-fake manipulations. Other facets of the lab include many original projects; a co-creation studio; a weekly publication; conferences; championing public literacy about technologies, including AI, and their implications; and weekly lecture series open to the MIT community and beyond. Now celebrating its 10th year, ODL also boasts a far-reaching network of fellows, creators, and researchers, all perched at, and defining, the cutting edge of what a documentary can be. 


In the late aughts, William Uricchio, a professor of comparative media studies and the founding principal investigator of ODL, recognized that documentary was in a moment of transition. He formulated the idea of a new lab at MIT’s unique crossroads of artistic and technological innovation, inspired by the Institute’s long history of using media to record aspects of the world.

Sarah Wolozin, the lab’s founding director and the creator of Docubase, says, “If you look at the history of documentary, it’s always evolving depending on what technology was available. One of the earliest examples are cave paintings. Today people use cellphones, cameras, computers, sensors, and many other technologies and processes to create stories about the world around us.”

Before helping Uricchio found the lab, Wolozin was working as a program manager at MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing. As a multiplatform documentarian herself, she had been experimenting with media forms as a maker since the mid-’90s, when the internet first became publicly accessible.


Uricchio saw new technologies — and cell phones in particular — as revealing the many perspectives that go into telling any story and potentially changing who gets to tell it. Documentary, he and Wolozin realized, could have a new, accessible home on the internet where the many roles engaged in the genre — creator, producer, technician, subjects, and audience — blur together generatively. The legacy of the open-source movement at MIT also influenced their inspiration for the “open” ethos of the documentary lab: an open system that allows many people to contribute to and iterate on works.

The sea-change of cellphone technology and ubiquitous cameras can be felt deeply in our culture, Uricchio observes. Without omnipresent, publicly accessible camera footage, watershed national events, including the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis — and the resulting national and international protests — would simply not have been visible to the country and the world. Understanding how documentary works and is experienced, as a form of witnessing and truth-telling, has developed into a significant focus of research at the ODL — and an exploration that has become more complex with the advent of deep fakes and other forms of manipulation. 

Imagining the future

The nascent Open Documentary Lab hit the ground running in 2011 with its first New Arts of Documentary conference, which overflowed the Media Lab’s massive sixth floor with industry experts, makers, technologists, scholars, and curators.

Uricchio recalls the concept: “We thought: Let’s put the funders, the technologists, the film festival people, and the makers at the same table to have a conversation. And it was magical. It’s been amazing to watch these folks help one another to reimagine the future of documentary storytelling.”

“We were very outward facing from the very beginning,” says Wolozin. “It was really about being in dialogue and interacting with the field.”

Wolozin began fostering partnerships with Tribeca, Sundance, and other leading organizations in the field. The International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam, whose new media program is led by Uricchio’s former student, became an important collaborator. Together they created Moments of Innovation, Uricchio’s visual white paper that formed the basis for the lab’s approach to documentary. Another immediate outcome was a program for MIT students developed by Wolozin and Sundance Film Festival New Frontier curator Shari Frilot called “Creating Critics” that still exists today. Recognizing that there was very little critical discourse about the emerging new forms of documentary, ODL graduate student researchers are sent to Sundance Festival’s New Frontier program as critics to write about the New Frontier exhibit. Their articles are published in Indiewire, a film industry online publication.

Uricchio had also helped found MIT’s Comparative Media Studies/Writing program itself — the department in MIT SHASS that houses ODL — working in collaboration with foundational new media theorist Henry Jenkins. Where Jenkins’ landmark scholarship focuses on participatory media in a networked body of work (e.g., user-generated content fueling massive companies like YouTube and Twitter, for instance), Uricchio’s ODL spirals participation toward vast new speculative horizons: How can stories be told in novel and innovative formats that both give voice to the subject and agency to the audience? The work produced by ODL and its fellows is often interactive and immersive — creating the feeling of being actively engaged and embedded in a story and often, enabling users to find their own stories.

Recalling some of her earliest work on the web in the 1990s — as the world first had public access to the internet — Wolozin reflects, “These impulses for participatory starts, storytelling, and interactivity have always been there, and they just evolve and change based on the technology that’s available.”


“We look at where new technology meets the mission of documentary,” says Uricchio. In his own scholarship, which entwines media historicity with forward-thinking possibilities, he is fascinated with how past forms of media inform the present and the future. “Media technologies and affordances have changed over the centuries, and if documentary as an interrogation of the world around us is to remain relevant, we must push the boundaries of — and better understand the implications of — today’s trends such as personalization, interactivity, and immersion. Just as importantly, we now have an opportunity to shift the balance of agency and change who tells the story.”

In that spirit, ODL is also the home of the MIT Co-Creation Studio. Launched in 2016, the Co-Creation Studio dives into the methodological implications of how documentaries are made in a networked world.

Katerina Cizek, a multi-Emmy Award-winning documentarian who has been pioneering participatory and interactive documentary production for decades, leads the young but prolific Co-Creation Studio. Beginning in the early 2000s, Cizek worked as a director with the National Film Board of Canada, reinventing a huge program to use film to advance social justice and community development by partnering with people in the community across disciplines and sectors.

When she first came to ODL as a visiting artist, Cizek recalls, there was no real global hub for exploring co-creative methodologies. Five years ago, Wolozin and Uricchio invited her to bring her idea for a co-creation studio to MIT. MIT Press will publish the Co-Creation Studio’s first book, “Collective Wisdom,” in 2022, which in turn is based on a pivotal field study from the studio that rejuvenated interest in the how’s and why’s of the co-creative process in creative fields.

“What the Studio particularly contributes is a focus on new and collective methodologies,” says Cizek.

Narrative sovereignty

This past academic year, the studio launched a big, ongoing project: Indigenous Digital Delegation, a partnership with the Indigenous Screen Office based in Canada. It is an initiative for what the Indigenous Screen Office calls “Indigenous narrative sovereignty”: Indigenous control over how Indigenous stories are told and who tells them. The delegation’s partnership with MIT puts Indigenous media scholars and artists into conversation with a wide breadth of experts and thinkers at the Institute.

“It’s two-way conversation,” says Cizek. “It’s really about developing deep conversation around Indigenous epistemologies, artificial intelligence, and digital worlds. The pickup at MIT was amazing. We had over 60 faculty, staff, and students respond to and participate in a variety of ways with the delegation, and we’ll be running the program again next spring.” 

Even today, there is no other lab doing this kind of work, says Wolozin, of the range and nature of ODL’s portfolio. There are new technological factors in the game — extended reality and artificial intelligence, to name two — but the lab’s mission continues to be bringing storytellers and technology scholars together to explore the relationship between representation and reality.


Each week, Immerse, ODL’s publication on Medium, offers a clear window onto the lab’s mission in action, from the role of street projections that subvert official narratives in South America to the social media life of an aging robot to speculative nonfictions in public space.  The content of Immerse is all about how stories are being told now, in a dazzling array of media.

Co-founded by Wolozin and Ingrid Kopp, the director of interactive media at Tribeca Film Institute, and Jessica Clark, founder and CEO of Dot Connector in 2015, the publication is currently headed by Abby Sun, a CMS/W master’s student with an extensive professional history in film festivals and programming. “Editing Immerse is a collective undertaking,” says Sun, honoring the input of several key collaborators and industry veterans, including Wolozin and Cizek. “My role as editor has expanded my consciousness and context for the long history and vibrant future of this work.” 

Also at home in Immerse is research and writing by MIT Comparative Media Studies faculty and graduate students, including Sun and Diego Cerna Aragon in the first 2021 issue. MIT alumni who were associated with ODL include Andrea Kim SM ’21, who recently received a Fulbright fellowship to continue her work on avatars; Sarah Rafsky ’18, a journalist and documentarian who produced an important investigative short film on Mecca, Mexico, for Netflix; Sue Ding SM ’17, a documentarian on the West Coast, with a breakout 2020 feature on Netflix about “The Baby-Sitters’ Club”; and Samuel Mendez ’20 who is now in a PhD program in public health at Harvard University and marries media art and public policy as a programmer.

Making space

A major function of the lab is making space for marginalized storytellers to take agency of how their own stories are told. Currently, ODL is engaged in a massive, two-year project on augmenting public space — either through geo-located sounds, projections on the sides of buildings, or QR codes. “Now that we’re challenging the master narrative of which monuments should be there,” asks Uricchio, “how can we leave traces in a more collective way? How can we actually augment and enhance spaces with people’s stories and narratives?” 

In one place-based act of history-telling, ODL Fellow Assia Boundaoui projected redacted FBI surveillance reports of Muslim Americans against the walls of the U.S. National Security Agency building, while using artificial intelligence technology to fill in the redacted language.

Recently, a joint fellowship with the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology to partner with Black Public Media brought two new fellows to ODL. One resultant project is “Mapping Blackness,” a powerful work by 2020-21 ODL Fellow Carla Bishop that uses innovative, intergenerational oral histories to document forgotten Black communities in northern Texas and Oklahoma. These small, century-old towns are very much alive and thriving — even if you might miss them if you blink driving by on the highway. Bishop’s work is a way to archive the stories of these communities and their histories accessible to a larger public.

Public literacy

Overall, the lab focuses on the guiding ethos of increasing public literacy about emerging technologies: Storytelling is a powerful way to demystify new technologies, to increase an understanding of their implications, and engage the public in decision-making about how emerging technologies will be deployed.

Documentary itself as a discipline has always been deeply entrenched with technological and scientific thinking. “The reality at the core of documentary has made it an ideal lens through which understand our representational conventions,” Uricchio says. “Mastering those conventions, and at times strategically breaking them, enables documentary not just to interpret the world, but to change it.”

“Making technologies accessible has always been important in my work,” says Wolozin. “Helping people understand their potential for storytelling and information. If we think about stories as a way to understand the world, we can do that with technology, and we can reach people in new ways. Because when people change the way they communicate, they change the way that they tell stories. And by so doing, they can transform how people see the world.”

Story prepared by MIT SHASS Communications
Editorial team: Alison Lanier and Emily Hiestand

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