The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices

Sorcerers and Apprentices 450

Innovation is what new technology is all about. Innovation is a tricky mistress. Where does one place their bets and their time and energy? How do you decide when a new technology might be ready for implementation? How do you spawn productive creativity in scientists, students, and engineers? These are questions those of us in new technology struggle with all the time.

Frank Moss, former director of the MIT Media Labs, has a new book out which is a fascinating look at the workings of the Media Lab and the innovation that has gone on there for the last 25 years. We were asked to mention the book to our readers and we think it is pretty darn relevant to our community so we recommend checking it out :)

The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices

From the Jacket -

If you’ve ever read a book on an e-reader, unleashed your inner rock star playing Guitar Hero, built a robot with LEGO Mindstorms, or ridden in a vehicle with child-safe air bags, then you’ve experienced first hand just a few of the astounding innovations that have come out of the Media Lab over the past 25 years. But that’s old hat for today’s researchers, who are creating technologies that will have a much deeper impact on the quality of people’s lives over the next quarter century.

In this exhilarating tour of the Media Lab’s inner sanctums, we’ll meet the professors and their students – the Sorcerers and their Apprentices – and witness first hand the creative magic behind inventions such as:

* Nexi, a mobile humanoid robot with such sophisticated social skills she can serve as a helpful and understanding companion for the sick and elderly.
* CityCar, a foldable, stackable, electric vehicle of the future that will redefine personal transportation in cities and revolutionize urban life.
* Sixth Sense, a compact wearable device that transforms any surface – wall, tabletop or even your hand – into a touch screen computer.
* PowerFoot, a lifelike robotic prosthesis that enables amputees to walk as naturally as if it were a real biological limb.

Through inspiring stories of people who are using Media Lab innovations to confront personal challenges – like a man with cerebral palsy who is unable to hum a tune or pick up an instrument yet is using an ingenious music composition system to unleash his “inner Mozart”, and a woman with a rare life-threatening condition who co-invented a revolutionary web service that enables patients to participate in the search for their own cures – we’ll see how the Media Lab is empowering us all with the tools to take control of our health, wealth, and happiness.

Along the way, Moss reveals the highly unorthodox approach to creativity and invention that makes all this possible, explaining how the Media Lab cultivates an open and boundary-less environment where researchers from a broad array of disciplines – from musicians to neuroscientists to visual artists to computer engineers – have the freedom to follow their passions and take bold risks unthinkable elsewhere.

The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices can serve as a blueprint for how to fix our broken innovation ecosystem and bring about the kind of radical change required to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  It is a must-read for anyone striving to be more innovative as an individual, as a businessperson, or as a member of society.

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