Discovering robotics at MIT in Boston means above all discovering how the world rounds at a completely different speed compared to that one here in Italy.
It’s just the air you breathe to be different: air of technology, air of wish to change the world and leaving a mark on the universe!
You breathe this air everywhere and in every environment, even only in a pub where by chance you start chatting with some people living there.
My experience was an incredible succession of appointments, meetings, reports and much more. I’ve arrived a bit for fun, thanks to the mentorship path I am attending at the TAG Innovation School in Milan and which I’ve already told you about at the Maker Faire in Rome.
Of course, the part that most bewitches me and I am interested in is that one about Robotics at MIT in Boston: it reaches the apex. I’ve met many people that before I had known only on line thanks to the socials and Internet and many doors opened to me.
It’s unbelievable the energy that so many people, of any nationality and ready to change the world, can transmit.
Their histories are all different and very interesting. Despite their really high level (don’t forget here there are the greatest brains in the earth!) they always find the way to give part of their precious time, to give you their attention, to tell you their part of life spent there at MIT.
All the professors at MIT have opened offices and they are available to meet you and answer to your questions and curiosities, even when they are people of the likes of Tim Burner Lee.
It’s unbelievable their humility!
Here at MIT really many inventions which have changed the world were born: the radar, the Polaroid, the first FabLab and much more. The MIT Museum it’s perhaps by far the most interesting to understand the history of this place.
Anything crosses your mind, here there’s somebody who created a part of it or followed a project, in any field.
I’ve been in really many places and I have to thank you really many people for what I experienced.
You think that Raffaele gave me really a lot of time make me know many people and welcome me like a little sister in his team and in his daily works.
I was present at the realization of a MIT official video, the lessons that then are posted on line. Every aspect is cared in a maniacal way.
It’s really strange to see how the professors, for the shooting, ask a piece of advice to the young people about the position they have to occupy, the words meant to impress to use and even about the clothes to wear, which are perfectly studied to be in contrast with the background and match with the other colours.
Some people arrived here through academic roads, instead other ones through more practical and experience based paths.
Obviously I like more the practical part but you already know this, did you?
The MediaLab is really a super place where the personal robots for the interaction with the little children are studied. The children think about the robot as a friend and not as an object to help them, so the questions they ask are “what do you eat?”, “do you know flying?”, “what do you like play with?”…all questions that wouldn’t occur to any adult.
So what do people do to test them? Easy. They bring them to the kindergartens!
I was present at the explanation and at the demonstration of these robots together with the young people who were there for a school project recording videos and making interviews.
They did everything: they fixed the lights and microphones and enjoying themselves they learned the practical aspects.
At the MediaLab Scratch was invented, the Lego Education and the MakeyMakey are used and even much more. Everyday in this Department you wonder about the figure of the professor who has to be a life teacher and not only an information distributor.
You have to know that they are firmly convinced that if a teacher can be replaced by a robot, it has to be done, for not becoming harmful!
Every day there are people who study alternative ways of teaching and creative ways to make the learning funny and interesting. The school as we know it is obsolete and it doesn’t exist at MIT anymore.
Professors wonder what they can teach to 17 years old young people that have already realized 3 start-ups with a patent and have 3 companies invoicing great money on their back. There is no longer information to transmit but only the human part and the experience lacking due to the young age.
The Department I literally fell in love with is the Robotics one, where I’ve met Andrea Censi who made me enter this place and who has told me about his role there, besides everything that happens in a so special place.
I helped him a bit and I collaborated to the realization of Duckietown.
It’s a simulated town where some robots go around staying in the middle of the road, stopping at stops and recognizing the different pedestrians (in this town they are ducks of several sizes)…
You think Andrea placed a great confidence in me and now I am Senior Tester for their project. You cannot image my happiness when he talked to me about that!
Then when one morning I find out to have been put in the first lesson of the Duckietown project at MIT and that my photo is in this video…I was certainly left gaping!!!
Here there are all sorts, shape, colours, utility, difficulty of robots.
There are humanoid robots, others made by origami, other ones more little that if put together can execute more difficult programs.
Drones are not only quad copters but also in a bird shape and they are able to follow the flights to understand their migrations. Paolo, we have to organize for the next Maker Faire aviary!
The 3D printer is used really for everything, for the robots and to create pieces adapting perfectly to one’s own needs. They are even been able to print an object made by different materials: if you push it, it has a liquid which has been printed together and not added after, and moves. It’s incredible!
In Boston I have heard mention for the first time the code poetry: how a negative event can change our idea much more than many other positive ones, and what would happen if a bomb fall on Google.
The question people ask themselves after this reflection is: would the knowledge as we mean it today still exist?
I would have still really many things to write about this place unique in the world, but what I would to transmit you more than other thing is the energy present at MIT.
You must come and see it personally because the energy changes horizons. Our aims, ambitions, our way to see the world change in a continue comparison which doesn’t judge but listens, learns and compares. Here everything makes you grow and evolve.
Don’t forget that a flight ticket costs less than the computer or the Smartphone by which you are reading this post! What you will bring home is not quantifiable!