Guided tour of the new MIT Museum

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The LIGO prototype

Built by Professor Emeritus Rainer Weiss 55, PhD 62, and his students, this 1970s prototype led to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a major physics experiment that eventually detected predicted gravitational waves. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. His work earned Weiss the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.

“LIGO was able to make it feel like magic to me as a physicist,” says Nunez. “Can you imagine what it’s like to be there and find out it worked? What a wonderful time for mankind! “

Kismet

Kismet, one of the first social robots designed to simulate social interactions, was created in the 1990s by Cynthia Brazell, SM ’93, ScD’00, now MIT’s dean of digital education and leader of the Personal Robots Research Group at the MIT Media Lab. . Originally controlled by 15 different computers, Kismet employed 21 engines to create facial expressions and body poses.

“I’m very close to that particular heritage,” says Nunez, who studied with Brezeal in the Media Lab. “It’s such a fascinating thing; it’s one of the museum’s Instagram moments.

IRGO

Developed by Julie Shah ’04, SM’06, PhD ’11, IRGO is an interactive robot that helps train museum visitors through artificial intelligence demonstrations. “Our visitors are participating in real robotics research,” says Nunez. “This is a very rare and unique opportunity.”

Today, Shah is the HN Slater Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and leader of the Interactive Robotics Group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. She shares her thoughts about AI in a nearby audio gallery. Other alumni featured in that gallery include Professor Rosalind Picard, SM ’86, ScD’91, director of the Media Lab’s Effective Computing Research Group, and Media Lab PhD students Matt Groh, SM’19, and Pat Pataranutaporn, SM’20.

“We want to be able to expose that there are communities of people behind everything you see,” Nunez said.

Coded view

Visitors to the AI ​​Gallery can see the mask Joy Buolamwini, SM ’17, PhD ’22, used to present a white face — rather than her own black — to facial recognition software, which she found to be less accurate for dark-skinned people. Skin. In her PhD, Buolamwini coined the term “code view” to describe algorithmic bias.

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