The Sorcereres and Their Apprentices, by Frank Moss

1: The Power of Passion

... in which the author discovers the secrets of the Media Lab, meets the people, gets hooked, and joins as director.

With society facing urgent threats to its existence, can we afford to have some of the most brilliant researchers in the world following their own personal passions?

At the MIT Media Lab, we believe that we CANNOT afford otherwise.

Intensely curious.  Impatient with the status quo. Determined to make the world a better place.  More than willing to serve as their own guinea pigs in the name of science.

Meet the creative geniuses behind the MIT Media Lab.  They flock to Cambridge, Mass., from all around the world, propelled by personal visions and a fire to change the world.

  • Come inside the unorthodox environment that channels personal passions and curiosities into innovations that help us all.
  • Learn about the Lab’s “atelier” method, which pairs professors and their students in a master-apprentice relationship that has its roots in the days of da Vinci.
  • Watch the next generation of technology innovation in action.  New inventions will have a deep impact on quality of life and big social challenges.

Meet Hugh Herr, a bilateral amputee frustrated by the limitations of traditional prostheses – so frustrated that he invented vastly better ones.  And other breakthroughs in biomechatronics that will improve function not only for amputees, but also for the rest of us.

Ascent: The Story of Hugh Herr Watch
Biomechatronics Watch
Putting the Exoskeleton through its Paces Watch (Credit: MIT Media Lab Biomechatronics group)
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The MIT Media Lab’s new “see-through” building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. The design reduces the physical barriers between people and encourages the free flow of ideas. (Photo: Andy Ryan Photography) Professor Hugh Herr, a bilateral amputee since his teenage years, with the MIT PowerFoot, an advanced robotic prosthesis designed at the MIT Media Lab. Herr, who heads the Lab's Biomechatronics group, was frustrated by the limitations of his traditional prostheses – so he learned to design better ones. (Photo: Len Rubenstein) Andrew Marecki of the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group performs a metabolic test of a 2011 version of the running exoskeleton.  The exoskeleton, which attaches to the human body, can improve the body’s performance and balance while traversing over different terrains. (Photo: Andy Ryan Photography) MIT Media Lab Professor Cynthia Breazeal with Nexi, one of the first mobile-dexterous-social (human-acting) robots. Breazeal's lifelong passion for robots started as a child with Star Wars' R2D2 and C3P0.  (Photo: Sam Ogden)

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