MIT Technology Day 2000 — “The Future of Atoms in an Age of Bits”

MIT Technology Day 2000 — “The Future of Atoms in an Age of Bits”


HECHT: Let me introduce myself
for those handful of you who don’t know me. I’m Bill Hecht, class of
’61, your senior employee, and for the past 20
years, and I suppose in perpetuity, Executive
Vice President of the Alumni Association. I want to welcome you
to Saturday classes. Those of you who
are my age and older remember Saturday classes. Some of us are age will
look around and notice that a lot of the younger
classes are still missing, and they don’t have
Saturday classes today. And therefore, some of
them haven’t figured out that we are going to
have class this Saturday. We provided you with a real,
genuine fire hose yesterday evening, and I hope
some of you stayed dry. I didn’t. This is the intellectual
part of the fire hose. Before I introduce
this morning’s program, a number of alumni have
buttonholed me and asked about Mrs. Vests health. For those of you who
don’t know, Mrs. Vest suffered a massive coronary
about two months ago. The miraculous thing is she’s
made a remarkable recovery. And you will note that Chuck
and Becky were far less visible at this event and
then they normally are. She’s doing quite well, and
we hope to see her at lunch, but I can’t guarantee that. It is, in the words of Chuck
Vest, a miraculous recovery. So to those of you who’ve
sent your good wishes, and I know many alumni
have, thank you very much. Today’s technology programs are
put together by a committee. And one of the first
things a committee does, because we’re here at MIT, is to
call on a distinguished faculty member to help us. And this year it was
fairly easy to decide what to do because we
had Bill Mitchell, who’s the Dean of Architecture,
a Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and
Sciences, who has come to us in the last
several years and brought an enormous amount
of excitement not only to the School of
Architecture and Planning, but to the whole
campus with his ideas, his vision, and his sense
of excitement about how physical spaces are just as
important in the digital age as they were in the analog
age and in the Stone Age and in the Bronze Age
and all of those ages that have gone before. Today’s program, as you know,
has an interesting and catchy title. It’s “The Future of
Atoms in an Age of Bits.” I’m always encouraged
that atoms still have a place since I seem to
acquire a few more every week. And I haven’t been
able to figure out how to do something about that. My wife teases me
occasionally that I’m just becoming a real
candidate for cloning, and someday there will be enough
of me actually to go around. Without further ado, let me
introduce Bill Mitchell who will introduce the
speakers in today’s program and his own set of remarks. Bill? [APPLAUSE] MITCHELL: Well, good morning. I’m delighted to be here, and
very happy to introduce a, I think, very exciting group of
speakers for you this morning. Let me quickly sketch
out the program for you– what we’re going to
do– and then I’m going to jump right
into a presentation. I’m going to lead
off, and I’m going to talk about the future of
all cities in general terms. I’m going to try and lay out
a general framework for what’s really happening to cities? What’s really happening
to architecture? What’s really happening to
our physical environment as the digital revolution
unfolds all around us? I’ll be followed by
Yossi Sheffy, who’s Professor of Civil and
Environmental Engineering and Director of the Center
for Transportation Studies. And he’s going to talk
about– well, the title is, “Transportation
Auctions and Exchanges,” but from talking to Yossi
just before we started, I think his talk a
little wider than that. After the break, we’ll have a
talk from Rodney Brooks, who’s the Fujitsu Professor
of Computer Science and Engineering and Director
of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and a real
pioneer in some very, very exciting areas of
artificial intelligence. And then finally, we’ll
have Roz Picard, who’s an Associate Professor in the
Media Lab, the program in Media Arts and Sciences. And she’ll talk about the
emotionally smart machine. We are going organize
things in this fashion. We’ll have the first two
talks, then we’ll take a break. And then we’ll have the
second two presentations. And then following those
second two presentations at about 11:30, if we stay
on time, and I hope we will, we’ll have a question
and answer session. And the way we’re
going to do this to make it work
in this auditorium is that we’ll handout cards
for you to write questions on, and we’ll ask you to
write your questions out, hand them to somebody who will
be very visible at the time. And we’ll pick up
those questions and take it from there. So let me jump in and–
good, the technology worked. I got my first slide up here. I’m going to talk
about a subject I’ve called e-topia, digital
telecommunications and the future of cities. Now, in architecture
and urban design, the term utopia has been
around for a long time. Architects and urban
designers have often dreamt about the ideal
cities, ideal futures, and the term the
utopia from the Greek follows nicely to
describe all of that. Or if you want to take
a less optimistic view, sometimes people speak
about the possible dystopias of the future. What I really want
to talk about today is our electronically
mediated future. So I’ve taken the
Greek root that generates utopia and dystopia
and put an “e” front of it as we put an “e” in front
of many things today. And I’ll talk about e-topia. And I’ll leave open the question
about whether the future that we face is a future
filled with remarkable positive possibilities, or
whether the downsides are going to dominate. I’ll try and frame
the questions for you and ask you to think about
where some of this leads. I’m going to base what I talk
about on three recent books. I wrote a book several
years ago called City of Bits– Space,
Place and the Infobahm that looked very early on
in the evolving internet era, looked at what might
be happening to cities. We in the School of
Architecture and Planning then moved on and did
some very interesting work on the question
of high technology and low-income communities. What does this set
of developments mean for social equity, for
the gap between the haves and the have nots? Is digital telecommunications
technology increasing that gap? Is it reducing that gap? What are the potentials
for the future? And most recently,
from the MIT Press, I did a book called e-topia that
pulls a number of these ideas together with the
subtitle Urban Life, Jim– But Not as We Know It. You have no idea
how difficult it was to get to a
subtitle like that through a respectable academic
press, but we succeeded. So in order to
open up this topic, let me go right back
to some basics– really this is an
urban design 101– and say something about the
relationship between networks and urban structure. As cities have evolved
over the centuries, you see that they’ve
acquired increasingly numerous and sophisticated
networks to tie them all together, networks of tracks
and roads, street systems, road systems, networks of pipes,
networks of wires, more recently wireless channels,
joining together patterns of production locations,
storage locations, switching locations
of various kinds, and consumption locations
of various kinds. Now, these networks
have never been distinct in their functions, but as
we’ll see, through today, they start producing all sorts
of complex, joint effects. And historically, we’ve seen
that when new networks are overlaid on existing cities,
existing urban patterns, they change the distribution
of resources and opportunities within the urban fabric. They restructure
the urban fabric, and this often creates winners
and losers, and some very, very important social equity issues. And I’ll come back to these
a little bit later on. Now, digital telecommunications
infrastructure is the latest overlay
that’s transforming cities in this way. It’s an infrastructure
physically that consists of copper
channels, glass channels, and wireless channels of various
kinds, and then a collection, as you all know, of systems of
servers at various locations, switching nodes, and incredibly
numerous end user consumption points. I want to say something about–
just to characterize what’s going on, I’ll try
to illustrate to you how old and new
infrastructures often overlay. It happened a week or so ago. I was driving down the El
Camino Real in Palo Alto. And as you probably
know, this is one of the oldest pieces
of urban infrastructure on the North American continent. It’s the old road that tied
together the Spanish missions and settlements way
back in the 18th century and made a connection up
the coast, as you see here. It was a channel for pedestrian
traffic, for horse traffic, for horse drawn vehicles. As I was driving along
there the other day, I noticed a scar down
the center of the road. And I drove a little
further along, and I found a backhoe continuing
that scar down the road. And you could probably
guess what happened. As I took a closer
look at it, I saw that in fact, what’s
happening here is that right down this
ancient right of way, this ancient piece
of infrastructure, there’s a new, very high speed
fiber optic backbone being laid. So rather poetically, in
exactly the same location that the first infrastructure
in this area was laid down, the latest infrastructure
is being located. Let me show you something
else about this just to set the scene a little bit. This is a famous monument
of modern architecture that you see on the
slide here right now. It’s in the City of
Chandigarh in the North of India, a capital city that
was designed by the architect Le Corbusier to be the
capital of the Punjab. And at the heart of
his design there’s a large open piazza
which was intended to function as a
face-to-face meeting place, a place where people could
come together, exchange ideas, really be something like
the ancient Greek Agora. And the center of this was
this famous Open Hand Monument grasping at the sky and
symbolizing that notion. Now, it turns out to be the
case that this piazza never worked partly because
it was too big, partly because it was too
hot, partly because it’s too difficult to get to. But it represents this
ancient idea of the way that people can
come together face to face to constitute
their community. Now, down the southern
end of Chandigarh, exactly the opposite
end of the city from this monumental center,
is another monument grasping at the sky, I noticed the
last time I was there. Of course, this one
actually catches something, unlike the first one. And this is a satellite
dish, a new piece of– it’s a satellite earth station. This is a new piece
of infrastructure, and it’s making, if you like,
a digital oasis in this area. It’s a location that
it connects this point on the surface of the Earth
to the international digital telecommunications
network, the global digital telecommunications network. There’s a little
switching station there– microwave tower behind it. And everything within line of
sight of that microwave tower is digitally connected
to the outside world. So this is a center of community
in a very different sense from the center of community
symbolized by the open hand monument. Now, what I want
to do quickly is go through some
questions relating to what’s really going on in
cities as a result of this. How is new
telecommunications technology changing urban patterns? Is it simply substitutional? Are we merely replacing familiar
means by e-this and cyber-that? Or do these new ways
of doing things add up to a much more profound
structural change? And I’d like to suggest to you
that in fact the changes are fundamental, and that we cannot
plan for future urban patterns, and indeed we cannot plan the
campus of the future without taking account of cyberspace
as well as physical space. How might we think about this? Well, let’s go back to the idea
of networks and what they do. Essentially, networks of
various kinds that tie cities together support interactions
among activities, and they provide
the “glue” that hold systems of production and
exchange, cities, and regions together. They have a couple of
different functions. Transportation and
telecommunications technologies support dispersed
interaction among activities. Storage technologies of various
kinds, beginning with writing, support asynchronous
interaction. Means you don’t have
to be in the same time and the same place
in order to interact. You can leave a
message somewhere, and then somebody
can pick it up later. And the great thing about
packet switching, the internet, and the World Wide Web is
they really combine the two, so we have the possibility
of interactions both dispersed and asynchronous. If you lay out the
sorts of possibilities that result from this, you find
that something very interesting emerges– a whole spectrum
of different sorts of possibilities
begin to develop. I apologize for showing
you a rather boring table, but this is useful
as a way of beginning to understand what’s going on. If you think about firstly the
possibilities for dispersal of interactions, you can have
local face-to-face interaction, so the traditional kind
of urban pattern, the idea that you do things face-to-face. It’s the idea behind
the Greek Agora, behind the traditional village,
behind the traditional nine to five workplace, and so on. If you introduce some simple
forms all communication at a distance, things
like church bells, minarets, smoke
signals, semaphores, and so on, you can
begin to get partially dispersed interaction. Add a capacity to harness
the electromagnetic spectrum for communication, and you
get all of the possibilities that we’ve seen since the
telegraph– the telephone, radio, television, and so on. So there are whole
bunch of possibilities for synchronous interaction
that begin to develop. Now, if we start to
introduce storage technology, if you think about ephemeral
storage like Post-it notes, which don’t last
very long, local semi synchronous interaction– you
leave a Post-it note somewhere and you get a message
communicated that way at a particular location. You can begin to disperse
that sort of interaction by introducing some simple
transportation technology, so things like pedestrian
and bicycle messenger systems disperse things a bit further. And then if you introduce
large scale, high speed transportation systems,
you get the whole business of mail systems,
these sorts of things. And then with
telecommunications, voicemail and email become techniques
for semi-synchronous dispersed interaction. And then finally, if you really
make large scale use of storage technology, if you keep
things around for a long time, for example, you get the idea
of the non-circulating library, the old fashioned manuscript
library, for example. Or old-fashioned
database systems, where you actually had to go
to the computer to get access. Disperse that a bit further
through computer networking, you get things like intranets. And disperse a
over wider area, we get the whole structure
of the World Wide Web, supporting Dot-com
enterprises and so on. So what’s going on these days is
that our cities, our campuses, our buildings are held together
by a combination of all of these sorts of
things, but of course, we’re seeing a
significant shift towards that bottom left-hand corner. There’s a kind of shift
across the diagonal going on. Now, the key question for
architects and urban design generally is, how do you find
some combination of land use pattern, transportation, and
telecommunication capabilities that effectively supports
the life of a community? And as technologies
change, you end up with different
sorts of patterns. Now, let me show you an
interesting example of how a very unusual
pattern developed out of a couple of new technologies. This is in the
1920s and the 1930s in the Outback of Australia
where, firstly, the land use pattern was a pattern of a
very geographically dispersed population. People scattered over thousands
of square miles working in the cattle industry
and the mining industry and very widely separated
from each other. There are a couple of
interesting new technologies, however, at that point. There was a thing called the
pedal-powered short-wave radio that enabled telecommunication
very effectively over those distances. And air transportation
using light airplanes was becoming
increasingly feasible. So it was possible
to put together some systems that held
that community together in a very unusual new way. Here’s the technology. This is a pedal-powered
generator of that era. I’ve actually pedaled
one of these things. It’s terrific. Keeps you very fit as you’re
communicating, of course. Here’s somebody back in the
’20s using one of these things. This is the internet of
its era, if you like. This is like sitting at
your personal computer and logging into AOL. Except what’s going on here
is the pedal generator, an old valve short-wave radio,
and this is so early here, he’s actually using a Morse key. And this is hooked up to
a piece of wire that’s hooked up to a
eucalyptus tree, and this will allow you to communicate. And this supported a couple
of very interesting systems. It supported a thing called
the Royal Flying Doctor Service that
enabled you remotely to summon medical
advice, or if you’re a bit more seriously ill,
a medical practitioner would jump in a light
plane from someplace like that Alice Springs or
Broken Hill or Cloncurry and come out and get
you, and take you back to where you could get
more effective medical service. So a combination of
telecommunication and transportation–
two new technologies at that point– two new
kinds of telecommunication and transportation technologies
providing a new way to deliver medical service. And it also provided a new
way to deliver education. We hear a lot of talk today
about remote education and dispersed
campuses, and so on. Well, this happened
here back in the ’20s. And there was a thing
called the School of the Air that still operates. And you see the
wonderful logo here with the transmission
tower and the slogan, “Parted but united.” The kids would assemble in their
school rooms every morning, but their school rooms
were in their houses dispersed across the Outback. The teachers would be in
places like Broken Hill, and everybody would
communicate via the radio, and you got a
dispersed classroom. This is today. Actually, it still operates. This is the School of
the Air in Broken Hill, except today the technology
is a little different. You see a satellite dish
there, and very sophisticated telecommunications
is used these days. Let me give you one more
example of this kind of new way of holding a city together or a
community together by combining technologies. This is something that you’ll
see in Singapore if you’re around there these days– a
system for putting together a road transportation
system with some new telecommunications capabilities
in order to achieve efficiencies in this case. This is exactly the
opposite situation. This is where you have a
very condensed population, very high density, a
great demand on the roads. Important issue is making
efficient use of available road capacity. So a system is being put
together that, at one level, is a sophisticated kind of
taxation, an infrastructure funding mechanism. At another level, it’s a
demand management and resource allocation system that can give
you considerable efficiencies. And it can be used
in other ways too, which may not be so positive. A system like this can be
used as a kind of surveillance system. It can also be used as a sort
of insidious access control system that really starts
to control the way people can move around
the urban fabric. And this is what it’s like. On the dashboard of
every automobile, there’s a device like this,
a little electronic box that has a debit card in it
and a readout showing the amount of money in your
debit card in Singapore dollars. And as you drive around, you see
these electronic road pricing rates posted. And these can– depending on the
sophistication of the system, and I’m not quite sure how
sophisticated this one is in operation, you can vary these
rates according to time of day, according to congestion,
according to the type of vehicle, and so on. So what this is
showing, it’s going to cost you more to drive a
large vehicle down this street then it’s going to cost you
drive a small vehicle down this street. As you drive around then,
as you start to move down various streets,
you see these kinds of devices that have these kind
of booms across the roadway. And as you drive under
one of these things, it sucks the money out
of your debit card. And so you may or may not
think this is a good thing, but you get the
idea of how this is a very, very different way of
organizing the flow of traffic. And Yossi Sheffi, I’m
sure, will talk about some of these sorts of things
probably in some more detail. And then you can put this
together with other things. Many of you are familiar with
these kinds of automobile navigation systems now that
depend on a GPS satellite system, and keep you
located in the city. Well, you can put these
together with these road pricing systems, for
example, and you can ask these things to find
the cheapest route from one location to another, and so on. Once again, I want to
emphasize what’s going on here is very sophisticated
and complex interaction between a particular
pattern of land occupation, pattern of land use, and
some modes of transportation, and some telecommunication
capabilities. And all of this is
being put together in really a very complex system
to support the interactions within a community. Now, I want to take a few
minutes to talk about what this really means to the future of
cities as we start to introduce more and more sophisticated
electronic capabilities, things like the World Wide
Web and the internet, things like increasingly intelligent
automobiles connected to large scale
digital infrastructure systems– all of
the sorts of things that we hear so
much about today. Essentially, the effect
of all of these things is to start to loosen
spatial and temporal linkages among activities. There’s less need for everything
to be clustered together spatially because many things
can be done at a distance. Not everything, but many things
can be done at a distance. And there’s less
need to coordinate activities because
of the capacity for asynchronous interaction. And the consequences of this
on cities are very complex. It turns out that when
you loosen these linkages, some components
of activities want to decentralize to achieve
wider coverage to get to larger markets and so on. Other components
want to centralize to achieve economies of scale,
to get knowledge spillover effects and these
sorts of things. Yet other components
of activities form desirable new alliances. For example, if you can do
your work at a distance, maybe you move your
residential location to a scenic location
or a location that offers particular
recreational advantages and so on. Yet other components
of activities begin to float freely so that
they can respond flexibly to dynamic conditions. So if the cost of labor is
important to an enterprise, for example, if it’s very
sensitive to that, maybe what happens is activities
move around chasing the labor markets, move offshore to
places where it’s particularly attractive and so on. And the consequence
of this is something that I’ve called fragmentation
and recombination of familiar building
types and urban patterns. The ways that things have
clustered together in the past begin to break up and
new sorts of patterns begin to crystallize out. You can think of it as a
bit like a chemical reaction in which on some
bonds get broken, some new ones get formed,
and a new kind of structure begins to develop that functions
in a different kind of way. And this is a
consequence of some of these locational connections
among activities being broken but others remaining. For example, you
might go to Amazon.com and buy books at a distance. But if you want your hair
cut, then you probably want to do that face to face. I can imagine Rod Brooks
developing some technology that would enable that to
happen at a distance, but it’s not a common everyday
thing at the moment anyway. So let me just analyze a
couple of these examples of fragmentation
and recombination, and then I’m going to
draw it all together and leave you with
some questions. Here’s a traditional
building type, a much loved traditional
building type, the traditional bookstore. And what this does is combine
several functions at one side. It combines an
advertising function by virtue of the banner out
front in the display window. It’s a place for
storage of books. It’s a place for browsing by
actually physically walking among the books. It’s a point of transaction
that happens right at the front counter there. And the back office work
related to this enterprise literally takes place
in the back office back behind all of the books. And it’s all wrapped up in
a neat little architectural package. It’s all in a box, if you like,
because the traditional way of relating all of
these activities is through adjacency and
through the possibility of direct, face-to-face
interaction. Now, of course, what happens
when something like Amazon comes along is that
some of these functions are virtualized
and decentralized. So the browsing and
purchasing functions are virtualized
and decentralized, and they fragment,
they blow apart, and they recombine
with domestic space– the space for this recombines
with domestic space, with workspace, with
these kinds of locations. So that aspect of what was
accommodated by the bookstore decentralizes. At exactly the same
time, however, there’s a radical centralization of
the distribution function. You end up with large,
national distribution centers where millions and
millions of books are kept, highly automated so you get
economies of scale, very large so you can keep in stock
larger numbers of titles than is possible in that
little physical bookstore. And these, of course, are
at different locations. These are located at
national airline hubs. And so a very different
kind of spatial pattern develops in which one aspect of
the activity is decentralized, another aspect is
highly centralized, and the back office
work, because of business-to-business
e-commerce capabilities, is able to float
freely to wherever appropriately skilled
labor is available at an attractive price. So some of it’s centralizes,
some of it decentralizes, and some of it mobilizes. And there are direct and
immediate consequences of this sort of
thing for cities. Retail space, for example,
has changed over the years, firstly, as a result of
changes in transportation and the development
of the suburban mall. More recently as a result of
these new patterns of commerce. And you see, for example,
the kind of thing that I’m showing here. This happens to be in
downtown Vancouver. And it’s literally
a white elephant. This is a large Eaton’s
department store, totally unoccupied and totally
derelict as a consequence of the sorts of shifts in retail
patterns that have taken place firstly through changes
in transportation, secondly as a result
of changes more recently in telecommunication. Let me go very quickly through
a couple more examples. You all know what’s happened
to banking, I think. It used to be that you
had to go to a branch bank to transact your business. It was a place to synchronous,
face-to-face interaction, literally across the
counter with the teller. The bank building was a
very important civic kind of structure, often celebrated
as this one on Massachusetts Avenue. The architecture carry
some symbolic freight. It was a place–
the architecture, this solid, cut stone,
classical architecture of course is intended to symbolize the
permanence, the solidity, the power, the respectability
of this institution in the community. So that’s how that worked. Then along came automated
teller machines. And firstly, these
were asynchronous. They allowed 24-hour-a-day,
seven-day-a-week service. You didn’t have to
come face to face with a teller in banking hours. And we’ve got this fragmentation
and recombination once again. These sorts of things ended
up in all kinds of locations– in supermarkets, in airports,
in student union buildings, in gambling casinos–
any place where people needed cash, in fact. So a classic example of this
fragmentation and recombination process. And then more recently,
the development of electronic home
banking systems has further virtualized
and decentralized customer interactions. And this has had all sorts of
consequences, in fact, revealed by the slide because this is
a slide from a few months ago showing Bank Boston providing
this kind of service, and now it’s Fleet providing
this kind of service. The consequence of this has been
direct and profound for cities. We’ve seen branch banks being
shut down in the thousands all over the world. This is just a clipping
from a little while ago from London Guardian, for
example, about hundreds more Barclays branch banks
being shut down. And we’ve reached a
kind of situation– it’s very interesting– where
a different combination of use of physical space, use
of telecommunications, and use of transportation
has developed. Some of the branch bank
looks something like this. Banking organizations now have
electronic fronts and bricks and mortar backs. The main street facade mostly
is replaced by a screen logo on an ATM machine or a website. Often very much on
the downside, there’s a loss of local, physical
presence in communities. And you have very
practical questions– what do you do with
these old buildings? And my observation is
that Starbucks often takes over the sites. You’ve probably seen
this in many locations. And then the back office
facilities, once again, are off chasing
inexpensive labor in some offshore location. New living patterns. I don’t have time to go
through this in detail, but one of the things
we’re starting to see is a recombination of the
home and the workplace as a consequence of the
possibility of telecommuting. As a result of
business-to-consumer e-commerce, the home becomes
an intensified delivery site. We’re seeing in many
contexts the development of 24-hour live/work
neighborhoods where people don’t commute
away, but in fact live and work in the same small-scale
neighborhood, Small-scale local environments
with global connections is a very interesting
pattern starting to develop, for example, in the
area around South Park in San Francisco. You can see this developing in
a very interesting sort of way. We’re also seeing
the reinvention of some traditional
building types, if you like, pre-industrial
patterns becoming viable once again in the
post-industrial year. For example, right
throughout Southeast Asia, the traditional packing
of the shophouse, which we here in Singapore,
is a very, very common traditional type where you
have workspace downstairs, living space upstairs. And this is also common in
Europe in a slightly different pattern. A very typical European
street, this one in Geneva, shows workspace on
the ground floor and then apartments
on the upper floors. This sort of
fine-grained combination of living and workspace
is a traditional pattern. In the industrial era, we
saw something different. We saw the development
of bedroom suburbs, industrial and commercial zones
in different parts of the city, commuting back and forth
among these things and so on. What we’re seeing
now is a reinvention of the shophouse
among other things. This again is in Palo Alto. Sorry for the slightly
fuzzy photograph. But this shows reinvented,
high-tech electronic shophouses. On the ground floor
here– and this happens to be on El
Camino Real incidently– on the ground floor, there
are workspace all occupied by little internet start-ups,
and on the upper floors there are apartments where
typically the folks who work these and start-ups live. It’s pretty disgusting actually. All full of futons and
underwear on the floor and kids occupying the space
24 hours a day. But it works. It works. And it’s very interesting to
see this kind of reinvention going on. Finally, what’s happening
to public space? Well, turns out that
in the digital era, many traditional
attractions that pull people to public space
no longer work in the way they used to. We’re seeing a
shift to dispersed from more focused
interaction in many contexts. We’re seeing a shift of many
activities from public space to private space. And this has some interesting
and difficult consequences. I’ll show you one example of
how this kind of thing works. Here’s a very important
public space in Hong Kong– one of the racecourses
in Hong Kong. You may know if you know Hong
Kong that the racecourse is a very important place. People love to go to the races. And it functions very
much as a public space because many people
show up there. It’s a place to network. It’s a place to do deals. It’s a place to be known
as a prominent member of the community and so on. And this is all held
together by adjacencies. Traditionally at a racecourse,
you had to be in the stands to see the races run. The bookies were there on
the rails to take your money. All of these sorts of
things were both synchronous and tightly focused at
a particular location. This enabled, as
many of you know, in this particular context,
The Hong Kong Jockey Club to be a very rich
and powerful organization. But now what’s
starting to happen is, for example, a development
of these sorts of devices. This is an online
betting device that enables you to plug in
to a telephone outlet anywhere, place your bets
any time up to the running of the race from any location. You can listen to the
race on the radio, or you can watch
it on television, or you may not even bother. And then, of
course, what happens is that immediately
the race is run. Your account is electronically
credited or debited. Inevitably, in my case, debited. And then here’s a clipping
from the South China Morning Post just showing a slightly
more up-to-date version of this kind of
thing, and nicely packaged as you can
see– and I think this is rather good–
packaged in a little pouch with your cell phone and a place
to keep your business cards. It’s a rather elegant
kind of summary of the way that things are moving. Now, what does
this mean socially? Well, what it means is that if
this happens on a large scale, the old modes of social
interaction structured by synchronous assembly in
particular urban locations begins to break down. And this nice New
Yorker cartoon begins to illustrate quite nicely
this sort of mechanism. If you can’t read it, this is
a typical New Yorker barroom cartoon. And the customer is
saying to the bartender, “To avoid the tedium of
this endless socializing, Eddie, I’ve decided
beginning Monday, to obtain all my future
booze from Amazon.com” And you can begin to understand
the sort of social consequences that can flow from this. So to summarize and
wrap up, you can trace these sorts of
processes of fragmentation and recombination of the urban
fabric in any kind of field that you want to look at. You could look at in retailing. You could look at it in
the pattern of housing. You can look at
in the workplace. You can look at it in education. You can look at it
in medical services. Any kind of traditional
building type or urban pattern, you can begin to
see the changes that are taking place
as a consequence of this massive
shift of activity across the diagonal of this
table from the traditional way of doing things, which
was entirely face to face, synchronous, based
on physical assembly, across to a context where
not everything happens electronically, at a distance,
asynchronously– far from it– but a much larger
proportion happens that way, loosening the traditional
bonds among activities and allowing new sorts
of patterns to develop. This affects markets. It affects organizations. It affects communities. We see this process of
fragmentation and recombination of familiar building
types and urban patterns, and this leaves us with some
very interesting questions to face. There are some design
questions, and this particularly affects architects
and urban designers. How do you organize systems
of physical and virtual places connected by transportation
telecommunication links that operate in some of the
new ways I’ve described? There are some interesting
empirical research questions. How do these systems
actually work out in practice when you put them in place? What the consequences? How do people actually
use these things? Does telecommuting, for
example, reduce traffic, reduce number of trips,
or does it restructure, or is the
complementarity effect? Lots of interesting
questions like this. There are some real
estate questions. What new opportunities
start to be created? What opportunities traditionally
have been there become history? And then the questions
I want to leave you with are some very
fundamental questions of what this means to social
equity within our communities. There are some
short-term issues that follow from the impossibility
of deploying new infrastructure everywhere at once. We have to dig a lot of ditches
and erect a lot of towers and so on. So in the short-term, there’s
an inevitable digital divide. Some people are going to get new
technology before other people. So there’s a difficult, complex,
very, very important question of managing the
transition to new patterns and new technologies so that
very difficult questions of inequity are not created
on too large a scale. There’s a longer-term question
that the new infrastructure very heavily mediated by
digital communications is potentially
ubiquitous, potentially provides a very efficient
mechanism for distribution of access to economic
opportunity and basic services. That doesn’t happen
automatically as a consequence of the
availability of the technology. But with the right sorts
of social policies, with the right sorts of
design interventions, those are very
attractive possibilities that can begin to be
realized in the longer term. And then in the
very long term, we face an issue that almost
certainly education, to a level that enables people
to operate effectively with these new capabilities,
education rather than physical access to
the infrastructure and to the technology is
probably the key issue. So it’s a moment of
dramatic and sweeping change that raises some very
profound questions, and I encourage you to
think about these questions and raise some questions
for us to discuss later in the morning. Thank you. And let me now
introduce Yossi Sheffi. Yossi? SHEFFI: Good morning, everybody. I’ll start right
from the beginning. Two steps back. Good Morning, everybody. The crowd is alive. Okay. We’ll talk a little bit
about lots of stuff. And I’ll try to talk fast to
gets us– not back on time. This is hopeless. But get close to back on time. Because originally, I
thought I had 40 minutes for the presentation. I came in at 30. Now I have less, but I’ll
try to make it to work. The outline which we’ll
cover is as follows. Ah, it works. We’ll talk about the internet
and electronic commerce in general, some business
models on the internet, business-to-consumer
issues, e-retailing, transportation issues
related to this, and intelligent transportation
systems and congestion all in one. This is actually a long agenda. We’ll try to go through
relatively quickly. This graph is the
obligatory graph. Anybody who talks
about the internet has to show something
that goes like this. So this is mine. It can be anything. The number of servers. The business-to-business
transaction, business-to-consumer
transaction– anything tied to the internet. I did it. We’re okay. In fact, because of this,
this is tied many times to network phenomenon and
the winner-take-all that happens sometimes in network
type of businesses, of which many internet businesses are. And it’s the reason to
try to get there first. He who gets there first
many times wins the battle. But in general, we’re
facing with millions of servers and billions
of devices and trillions of dollars in e-commerce and
a world connected like never before. And the question is,
what does this mean? We developed certain
competencies now. For example, we can manage
large communities online. We can run huge auctions
and match buyers and sellers in a very effective way. And we can communicate very,
very effectively large amounts of data through the Web. Let me very quickly go
through three basic business models that sprung up
mainly on the internet. These are not totally
new business models, but on the internet,
you can look at three types of businesses. One is when a buyer is trying
to connect to several sellers. This is mainly a
business model where it prevalent in
business-to-business type transactions. When one buyer– for
example, when I try to buy something from MIT, I
try to buy a box number two pencils, I actually
go into a website and hit a box of
number two pencils. MIT ties to several
providers on the Web, and somehow this box of pencils
finds its way to my office. So this is a business model
that in fact MIT Procurement is using. The other one is a
seller-side business model, when it’s all the catalogs. And you go to LL Bean, J
Crew, or industrial catalogs to buy what the
seller puts online. The last model is the
aggregation model, when you try to aggregate many
buyers and sellers together. In the
consumer-to-consumer space, the most famous
example is, of course, eBay when it brings together
to one digital place a lot of buyers and a lot of sellers
at the same time the transact, to go through business. I’m not going to spend
too long on this. But just mention that
these various business models are in fact tied
to all kinds of auctions. Many times, seller-based
business models are ties to seller-based
auction of people auctioning off capacity or ability to do work. On the buyer’s side,
there are many times you’ll find so-called reverse
auction or RFP, RFQ type bids when buyer put their
business online and sellers are bidding against it. And you’ll find also
double-sided sellers in exchanges just like the
New York Stock Exchange. There are exchanges
popping all over the world. The United States now, there are
about 800 industrial exchanges operating where people
are trading anything from transportation services to
chemicals to plastics to paper to paper clips– what have you. Let’s now go closer
to home and look at the effect of
e-commerce going from business to the
consumer with an emphasis on transportation. The traditional business
model before the Web was that stuff got from a
factory to a distribution center to a store, and then
we all came to the store and picked it up. Of course, after the Web, it’s
done a little differently where it’s just sitting there,
not going anywhere, and the hope is that the
little vans will come and drop some stuff right
next to us as we do whatever it is that we
do, which is kind of nirvana, right? We’re just sitting there
doing what we’re doing, and the stuff comes
and just appears. This, in fact, is
a scheme, is kind of a model of various
delivery systems that are being used in practice. In practice, actually in
some cases like Peapod, they actually do not
bypass the store. The delivery is
actually from the store. Or they used until lately. Well, now they’re not
doing anything at all. But until a few
months ago, they were collecting– they started
doing from warehouses. But before that, when you
got an order from Peapod, they went to the local Stop
and Shop here in Boston, collected your stuff, and
brought it to your home. Sometimes these
outfits like PetSmart are tied to distribution
centers of retailers, like in this case
for Kmart, and they will use exactly this model. They will collect at
the distribution center and deliver it to the home. Officedepot.com does not
use its own warehouses. Actually, does not use
the same warehouses. The storage, this was a
specialized warehouse. eToys is using other parties. Amazon.com is trying
many cases to go directly from the supplier to the home. They found out actually
it’s not working very well, and they have to build their
own distribution center. But the challenges here–
there are several challenges in all these models
of delivering. First the all, take
Amazon for example. From ’96 to ’99, these
sales went up 100 fold. The losses went up 120 fold. You don’t need to be a
graduate of MIT to lead the trend– is not promising. So the question is, how do you
make money in this business? It’s a serious question. And a lot of it is
tied to the delivery. A lot of it is ties to how
we can deliver efficiently. And when you look
at the carriers, at UPS, FedEx, and
the Postal Service who are doing the bulk of the
e-commerce delivery, first of all, they are facing real
challenge in the future. Right now, less than 10%
of what they deal with is tied to e-commerce, and
most of this, by the way, is business-to-business
deliveries still, even on e-commerce front. So if everybody would start
really doing home delivery, they’ll face real
capacity problems. They just can’t do it. Right now, FedEx and UPS have
very similar cost structure. They make about– the
revenue is about $29 on a package
delivered to business. And they deliver on the average
to business, about 25 times per hour. 25 deliveries per
hour to business. To home, the average package
cost between $10 and $15, and they can go do only five
to eight deliveries an hour. Without getting
into the cost again, you start realizing
there’s a problem there. The home deliveries are not
making money for this outfit. They are all still riding
on the business delivery. All of them have problems
with perishables– how to deliver perishables. It cannot go through
their distribution center. All of them have problems
with delivering heavy stuff. When you want to order
your sofa online, it’s hard to imagine the
FedEx guy running with a sofa up the stairs. It just doesn’t work, right? And of course, there’s
a problem of congestions of all these vans running around
the city and all these trucks running around the
city and creating a hell of a lot of
congestion, which you can see in downtown New York today. So how do we deal
with some of this? Well, there are
some alternatives. With perishables, people are
dealing with dedicated fleets like webvan is trying
to do, put a system of warehouses and their own
fleets to deliver perishables. NationStreet is a system for
dealing with large packages. They use commercial deliveries
between urban centers, and then they tie to
agents that deliver anyway large stuff for stores
and for other outfits to deliver the sofa
and refrigerator and whatever else
they want to do. It’s a company in fact right
here in the Boston area. The challenge still is
to provide good service, and to make it
profitable, and to develop the systems to control this,
which nobody has actually figured out yet. The keys to efficient
home delivery is first of all, efficient
customer receiving. What kills home
delivery is that fact that if you come
to a business, you know that between 9:00
and 5:00, somebody will be there to take it. When you come to the
home, it’s a problem. Because first of all,
you spend some time on just getting to the door,
and getting past the dog, and trying to get somebody
to understand that are not out there with a gun trying
to– that you’re just trying to deliver a package. Then half the time, that
somebody’s not even at home. And you have to do it a
second time and a third time. People are trying to go through
it by putting all kind of boxes that you can deliver into
little home warehouses, which has its own costs and its
own set of liabilities. So it’s a real problem. The customer receiving is one
of the keys to efficient home delivery. Some of the other
keys are density. About two months
ago, two young people from a well known
consulting firm decided they wanted to start
a system for home delivery. They had all kind of gizmos. The toilet paper would sit on
something, some device– when it goes to a certain level,
it will transmit to the store, and transmit to
them, and they’ll take it and deliver a new
batch of toilet paper. And they did they a whole
study of what kind of people would use it– you
know, market research. And they found out all the
red-headed, left-handed women all over the place
who may use it. And I tried to explain
to them that their market segment should be Beacon Street,
and their second market segment should be Marlborough
Street, and then they go to Commowealth Avenue. Because this business
will rise and fall on the density of the delivery. If you can come to a high
rise on Beacon Street and deliver 50 to 70
deliveries in one address, you are making money on this. If you have to go to
Newton or to Western, and go half a mile
between houses, nobody will pay you
the money that it takes to actually do it. Density. Second, in order to deliver
a good level of service, you have to deliver frequently,
which again raises the cost. You want to deliver
in large sizes, and a lot of these
specialized outfits are going to
multi-product delivery. So people like Kozmo
and people like Webvan, you can order grocery
and videotape, and CD, and electronic stuff–
lots of other things. Then the key, of
course, you need to have the right technology
and to understand a little bit about logistics and optimization
and how to do it right. Let’s now go to the
congestion question, and in face, Professor Michtell
did a great set up for me on this when we deal with
the congestion question. With all of this, the question
is, will the increased home deliveries be offset
by a reduction in trips that we take. So maybe there’s not going to
be a big congestion question. What about returns? How do we return the
stuff that we get home? Still, in most cases, we have
to do something, if at least to take a trip to FedEx
or to the Postal Service or to a store or sometimes when
we are able to return stuff. The parcel services are
talking about starting to deliver several times a
day to get to the immediacy that people start to demand. Well, nobody really
knows, but I can just tell you the truck
manufacturers are very bullish and the stock is it all
time high because they think that there will be
a lot more trucks and pick up stuff running
around the cities. The question is also, will
suppliers deliver direct? It may be that because
the level of service is not that great, many
suppliers are thinking about taking the delivery
into their own hands, which is actually by and large
for society a terrible idea, because you will have starting
a lot of deliveries to your home by half empty trucks because
nobody will have the density to do it effectively
even in an urban area. So how do we solve the
congestion question general? Well, the first idea
is eliminate trips. We hope that by
telecommuting, by attending broadcasted events, by
e-shopping, teleconferencing, maybe people will
have to drive less. Of course, there’s
the opposite effect that in fact Professor
Mitchell was talking about, and this is we will have an
expanded set of opportunity. We can now work from anywhere,
so maybe we’ll drive more, driving longer distances. Maybe we will wait always
until the last minute and then somebody will have to
speed with half empty truck to get us the stuff,
or we will have to go with a trip that
was not planned before, not part of a more
elaborate trip that achieved several goals. Maybe we’ll have to go just
to the something right away. So it’s not clear that
telecommuting really works. Solution number two is
the internet on wheels. This is what the new devices
that Ford now– Ford and GM and Chrysler are now making. They’re actually internet
on wheels, right? They have four wheels, and
a steering wheel and engine, but they’re basically
a browser on wheels. And the trucks, by the way, are
already marvels of technology. Most commercial
trucks– I’m talking about the over-the-road,
heavy semi trailers have computers in the cab. All the bookkeeping is
done electronically. The tax– they have to pay tax
based on how many miles they drive in each state. This is now collected
automatically with a global positioning system
fed immediately into the truck and into the company. So there are lots of
trucks already becoming center of economic activity. And this is an example of a
truck driver with his computer. In future cars, you of
course have better operation, ties so AAA, the dealers. You’ve seen the
new– what is this? Mercedes ad– the
guy there doesn’t want to look for direction,
presses a button, and just immediately connected
to ask for direction. Strange solution, by the way,
because you can of course get the direction automatically
with a navigation system. But the idea is to reduce
the [INAUDIBLE] of driving. Maybe we’ll say, well, we
can’t eliminate driving, but we can make
driving more fun. So from the car, we
can do a lot of things. And in fact, Mercedes
has a van now that is literally
an office on wheels, outfitted like a
full-fledged office with full-fledged
communication system. We still need to mitigate
condition, right? We still need to
do something even if we have office
on wheels and people are still running around
all over the place. So there’s a lot of
schemes that came out for traffic management. In fact, in the central
artery in the big, big project in Boston, we are
going through– if you go through the tunnel,
the tunnel is totally outfitted with sensors and
variable message signs that tell you if something
happens in the tunnel and you should avoid
the tunnel possibly. It doesn’t really
help once you’re in the tunnel to know that. But maybe knowing why you’re
standing still for two hours is better than not knowing
why you’re standing still for two hours. But there’s a lot of money
being poured into so-called ITS congestion– intelligent
transportation system– that’s what ITS stands for. I’m talking about
many, many billions of dollars that are poured
into research on this. On the combination of road
sensors and variable messaging and dynamic routing. This does not
really happen today, but the vision is that the
sensors will collect stuff from the road. They’ll go to some massive
central computers that will calculate for every
car that will request it, what’s the best way to go
to the destination today? There’s something common
to all of these devices and to all of these schemes. And what is common
is they don’t work. And they don’t work for
very fundamental reasons. Adding electronic capacity
and adding physical capacity is the same thing. Adding capacity does
not work, actually. Because of equilibrium effect. Because once you
add more capacity, people will travel more. There’s a famous story of
the Long Island Expressway congested on day one. Why did we build it? Because there was the whole
effect of anticipation during the years of
building and people moved and located
in anticipation of building the highway. It doesn’t matter if
it’s electronic capacity or physical capacity,
the equilibrium effect will always happen. So this actually
doesn’t quite work. And building– and
I bet, if anybody in this room who wants to
take it, dollars to donuts, that the new
Southeast Expressway underground will be as congested
as the elevated one on day one. There is no issue that
it will be as congested. Because all the traffic that
now goes around the city was, aha, we have another lane. It’s equilibrium effect. You can actually prove
it mathematically, but it actually
happens in reality. So the question really–
what the solution is is actually– there
is a solution to this. And the solution is the
reason that I’m never working on ITS is because for
me to work on something that is so expensive and
developing in this when I know the solution
is there rather than there is kind of hard. And the solution is
[INAUDIBLE] pricing is what Singapore
is trying to do, is price the use of the road. And there are several ways
of doing congestion pricing. Really simple is to put
electronic tolls, for example, around downtown. And now, tolls
could be electronic, not only in Singapore,
in the United States. Even right now in
the [INAUDIBLE] going to the airport, you
see this– what’s it called? [INAUDIBLE]? Whatever this card
that you put in. Same thing that they
use in Singapore. It’s been used in
the United States now for 10 years in Dallas,
Oklahoma, several other places. Just made it to Boston. So if you want to change
people’s behavior, say, going into downtown, you can
put some electronic tolls around downtown. And you can get a little more
but still simple pricing. If you don’t want people to
come between 8:00 and 9:00– there’s a lot congestion– make
the price high between 8:00 and 9:00 so people will
distribute themselves and come early or later. So you have the
distribution of the traffic. If you really were to
use the capability, you can price every
piece of real estate. And as the car
drives over it, it gets charged just
like in Singapore. They do it with the overhangs. But it is the idea. Long term, I think
the idea the– I mean, it’s a depressing idea, but
I think it’s inevitable– that the idea of driving
into the central business district of a large urban area
and being expected to pay only for parking or for
gas is just not going to happen like this anymore. We will have to start paying
for the use of the real estate, the pavement that we are driving
on at one point or another. And this payment does not
have to be fixed, of course. It can change by
the time of day. Go down Government Center
at 2:00 AM in the morning, nobody’s charging anything. Go there at 8:00 AM, you
pay $5 every so often. You can also do it if you really
want by dynamic conditions. Because if you really have
sensors that do the charging and collect data, then
the dreams of economies is coming through. You can charge by externalities. You can charge based on the
cost that you impose on others. So when you’re driving
downtown, your car increases the congestion
on everybody else. You’re charged according
to how much you impose on the rest of society. And this can be
done on a rainy day, you may be imposing more
than on a good weather day. When you go to
certain– you want to go through Fenway during
a Red Sox, game you get charged more just
going through this because you impose
congestion on others. The really Star Wars solution
is to do real-time auctions. The real Star Wars solution
is to come to an intersection and have my car bit with
your car about the right to use the intersection. And in fact, if I’m
the third in line, I can give some of my
money to the cars in front to make them move faster, right? So you get into a whole
game theory aspect. And it doesn’t have to be money. And I always say that
in Cambridge [INAUDIBLE] people say, but
it’s not equitable. The rich will be better off. Well, to answer this,
first of all, the rich are better off anyway. And second answer, it
doesn’t have to be money. The government can,
of course, distribute its own units of accessibility. I call them “environs” or
“accessirons” or something. And these will be
the units that will be traded rather than money. So me and Bill Gates will have
a fair shot at the intersection. If you think about it, it
obviates traffic signals and all messaging, and it let’s
emergency vehicles, of course, go through automatically. Set all the traffic lights. But it actually raises some
bigger questions around this. And the bigger question about
the use of auctions in general are things like–
you can use auctions for a lot of things, for
purchase anything, of course. But beyond this, to set
markets that right now are not set in the
most efficient way, and it does not
have to be money. It can be any unit
that can be tradable. And so you can think
about organ transplants, where every citizen has the same
number of units to begin with. I’m not talking
about the organs. I’m talking about
the same currency to begin with, with
which to trade. The whole issues like school
choice, how to choose, which school that’s
dividing communities can be done on an auction basis. You can start
thinking about the end of representative democracy,
about direct democracy. When people have
access to and are able to vote, in
fact, on any question. And the technology’s
not far fetched. I mean, this is
something that we are a lot closer to
that people realize if we want to go this way–
if we want to go this way. So let me leave you here. And the I think I’m not
going to do the questions. This is usually
when I go like this. Let me finish here and
I’ll see you later. MITCHELL: Well, against
all of the odds, we are not too far behind time. So it is now the break. We were supposed to break at
10:10 and reassemble at 10:30. Why don’t we give you
a little bit more time, so we’ll reassemble at 10:35. If you could be
back here at 10:35. And we’ll take you further
to the outer reaches of the technology
and what it means. Let me make a couple of
announcements as we get started. Firstly, about
submitting questions. Now, the mechanism we should
have for submitting questions, of course, should be something
along the lines of you just fire the
questions wirelessly to me from your palm pilots
or something like that. But we don’t have that
kind of technology. What we have are students with
appropriate T-shirts walking around with little index cards. And if you ask one of these
students– put up your hand and ask one of these students,
you can get an index card and write your question
on the index card and hand it back to the
student, and it will find its way eventually to me. And we’ll use those
questions in the question and answer session later on. So I guess I should apologize
for that very low technology, but it will work, and that’s
always very important. Secondly, a couple of people
asked me during the break whether the slides and the
videos from these presentations would be available. And I checked with the
Alumni Association. The answer is yes. You should watch out on
the website for the Alumni Association, and
you’ll find information about obtaining
video, slide, whatever records of these
presentations you need. So watch out on the
website for that. So let me now introduce
the second session, which will take us further
to the outer reaches of the technology that’s
going to affect our future. And our first speaker is Rodney
Brooks, as I mentioned before. I provoked Rodney a
little bit by talking about not being able to get
your hair cut over the internet, and he assures me in the break
that that’s not too far away and many other
things that are going to be very important to us. So let me introduce Rodney. BROOKS: Thanks, Bill. As I listened to the
first two speakers, I realized that if
you’re a pessimist, you could interpret
Bill’s talk to be saying that our cities
are going to disintegrate. And you get to
interpret Yossi’s talk to say that out transportation
is going to disintegrate. And I realize that
when I’m here to tell you is that your self identity
is going to disintegrate. But that’s only if
you’re a pessimist. We, as humankind, have
been using machines for the last few thousand years,
and the types of our machines have profoundly
affected human life, as was shown in the
previous two talks. And we’ve tried to maximize
the autonomy of our machines and minimize the human effort
and we need to regulate them. It’s much easier to
drive an automobile today than it was when they were first
built just over 100 years ago. And with computation,
it gives new levels of autonomy for our machines. So things that used
to require that people or animals in the
loop will no longer require us to be in
the loop so much. And with trying to
build machines and make them more autonomous,
there’s also being a fascination with
building artificial creatures. On the left here–
well, these creations were by Vaucanson in France
in the early 18th century, around 1738 or so. This is a mechanical duck
which operated like a duck. It even had a
digestive system where it could eat and provide
some excrement driven by a cam system. This is an automaton that
could write something, and you could
actually program it to write about 40
different characters in a string in the
back of it, and then it would write letters. So people have been trying to
build things look lifelike. This century, there’s been
more capability for that. This is a robot that was
built in the late 1940s by Grey Walter in England
using two vacuum tubes. It was a tortoise. There was a series of articles
in Scientific American about this around 1949, 1950. And more recently with
digital electronics, we’ve been able to
build more capable sorts of artificial creatures. This was one built
in our lab that used to wander around
looking for soda cans and collecting them. This is one that used to
give tours of the AI lab. This is a prototype
for a Mars explorer. And the ideas from here
eventually did go to Mars. And this is a more
recent European robot. In the last few years– three,
four, five years– people have been trying to build
robots with human form. This is one by Honda
Motor Corporation. It’s not so well
known in the US, but in Japan, all of
Honda’s advertisements on TV feature this
robot, which they now have a whole fleet of humanoid
robots, which have [INAUDIBLE] operated control,
but have human form. And then these are
a couple of robots that we’ve built here at MIT. This is a robot Cog and this
is a robot called Kismet along with its creator,
Cynthia Brazil, who just received her PhD
for this work yesterday. And I want to show you
a little about Kismet and show you some
of Cynthia’s work with Kismet to give you an
idea of where we are currently in building
artificial creatures, creatures which are lifelike. Kismet a doesn’t have a body. It has a neck and some
shoulder-type motion. It has a face which can
give facial expressions. And it has sensors inside
its face– a couple Foveal cameras here and then
some wider angle cameras hidden in the nose, a
mouth, lips, et cetera. And it can speak and listen to
you as it interacts with you. And our work is based
on four principles. We think it’s important
to embody robots to true social
interaction, but we also follow development patents
that human children go through, and we integrate lots
of sensors together. And what we’re trying
to do with these robots is get beyond the
sort of thing that we have on the Web, which is a very
impersonal sort of interaction. And instead, when I
come up to someone here, he looks up at me,
he acknowledges that he’s seeing me
by nodding his head, he even gestured with
his hands, and that’s the sort of natural
interaction that we have evolved over millions of years. And we’re trying to understand
that interaction by building it into robots and seeing
what sort of interactions we can have with robots and
what new ways we can interact with technology through that
in this natural sort of way. And I see he’s nodding there. He’s following what I’m saying. And this is completely
unconscious in us. We do it all the time. And it’s only when
the person we’re interacting with sort of
breaks the rules about how it works that we notice
that they’re not interacting in a normal sort of human way. So can we put that
on board robots? So over the last few years,
building intelligent robots has sort of agreed–
everyone sort of agreed upon having three
levels of primitive actions, skills, and then behaviors. And what Cynthia’s
been doing has been adding a
social level, which requires a fairly
complex architecture, and I’m not going to go into
any of the details of that. But what she’s been doing
is getting the robot to be tuned to the human and the
human to be tuned to the robot. And humans are very
adaptable, and they can adapt to slight
differences in the way the robot acts,
the way people act, and tune themselves into
interacting with it. And I want to show you some
examples of that in the second. And the competencies
that you should be looking for in the
videos I’m about to show you are being able
to see or direct the visual attention
of the robot, have the robot
recognize socially communicated reinforcement
like the gentleman in the front row who just
nodded as I said something. He reinforced that
he was understanding what I was saying. And that regulated
our conversation. If he’d given me
a puzzled look, I would have put in an
extra sentence or two to explain what I meant. The robot is going to
communicate its internal state to the human. So it’s going to be symmetric. And then they’ll
have this regulation of social interaction. So first on the
left here, you’ll see just the robot looking
around for its toy. And you’ll be able to
see from the way it’s moving what it’s doing. It’s searching clearly
here as you watch its eyes. And then it will find the toy. It gives a sort of social
signal that it’s seen the toy. It gets slightly happier. And we can interpret
what’s going on. But at the same time,
it’s observing the world. So now someone comes
in from the right here, and watch the robot as
the person comes in. You can see that the robot
was watching the person. So as an external
observer here, we can understand what the robot
is doing, what is on its mind, if you like. Now, that’s not always the case
with our laptops or our web interfaces. We often can’t tell
what’s happening. On the right here,
we’ll see an example of social amplification. These are naive subjects who did
not know the robot previously who are sitting in
front of the robot. SUBJECT: Am I a little
too close to you? I could stand back. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. BROOKS: So in both
cases, the robot signaled when the
person was too close. Well, now this
kid’s experimenting. How close can he get? KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. BROOKS: So in both
cases there, the robot gave a social cue that the
person was too close to it. Why did it care? Well, it cared because if
the person is too close, the baseline of
its stereo cameras is too large relative
to something that close, and it can’t see
the face clearly, and it can’t tell
what’s going on. So it gives a social
cue that the person’s to close as you would if I
came up and stuck my nose two inches in front of your face. And the person reacted
naturally to that because the robot had got
the right cue that this naive person who didn’t know anything
about the robot a priori was able to interpret in
the natural sort of way. Now, the robot has
an emotional space. It happens to be a
three-dimensional space. Three axes here– valence,
arousal, and stance. And at any point in time,
the robot is somewhere in this emotional
space, and it will be outputting through its
facial expression an indication of where it is in
that emotional space. But it will also
interpret actions from the person
in a different way depending on where
it is in the space. So it has emotions
of a sort, and it reacts to the world differently
based on its emotional state. And it displays its
emotional state the world. Let me just show you it
displaying its emotional state coupled with speech here. KISMET: Do you really think so? Do you really think so? Do you really think so? BROOKS: So this is saying the
same thing at different points in its emotional space. KISMET: Do you really think so? Do you really think so? Do you really think so? BROOKS: At this point in time
when these videos were taken, the robot had no understanding
of the content its speech there. It was just expressing
a string of phonemes. And when it interacts with
the person or the person talks to it in the next video, it
doesn’t understand the content of what the person is saying. But it does produce effect,
and it understands the affect of the person speaking. So in this next video, we’ve got
some relatively naive subjects who were told to praise the
robot, prohibit the robot, and it was up to
them to see how they could get the
robot to understand those sorts of instructions. So here is first praise
in different languages. Doesn’t matter about
the actual words. SUBJECT: [SPEAKING FRENCH] SUBJECT: Nice robot. You’re such a cute little robot. [INAUDIBLE] SUBJECT: Good job, Kismet. Very good, Kismet. SUBJECT: Look at my smile. BROOKS: Now, notice how
she imitates the robot back and forth here. SUBJECT: Aw, that was cute. BROOKS: Here they were
told to get its attention and tell us when they
got its attention. SUBJECT: Kismet? Hey, Kismet. SUBJECT: [SPEAKING FRENCH] BROOKS: She knows it got it. SUBJECT: Kismet, do
you like the toy? BROOKS: Now, here’s someone
told to prohibit it. And she’s really
tough on this robot. She really pushes
it into a corner. SUBJECT: No. No. You’re not do that. No. It’s not appropriate. No. No. SUBJECT: [NON-ENGLISH] BROOKS: Now, watch
the person here. SUBJECT: Where’d
you put your body? BROOKS: And notice how she
imitates the robot there. And lastly, some soothing. SUBJECT: [SPEAKING FRENCH] BROOKS: So the
important thing here is that the people are able– SUBJECT: Aw, you’re
better than Jibo. BROOKS: You’re better
than Jibo, she just said. The important thing
here is that the people are able to interpret how
the robot is moving around in its emotional space. Now, when you couple that
together with turn taking on the robot’s– as a behavior,
the robot’s just babbling, but it can engage. This is actually Cynthia
and a graduate student who built the robot,
so these are not naive. The one’s will be naive. SUBJECT: [INAUDIBLE]. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. BROOKS: So the robot and
the people are turn taking. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: Really? BROOKS: Notice the way the
robot is making and breaking eye contact with the people. SUBJECT: [INAUDIBLE]. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: [INAUDIBLE]. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. BROOKS: Now, this
next subject is naive. SUBJECT: Hi. KISMET: Hello. BROOKS: She figures
out turn taking, but she doesn’t know
what to say to it. SUBJECT: Hello? KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. BROOKS: Notice she knows it’s
her turn, but what to say? SUBJECT: Hello. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. BROOKS: Now, here’s
another naive subject. He talks about 25 minutes. There’s a cute cut here. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: Do you laugh at all? I laugh a lot. Carol says I laugh a lot. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: I try not
to laugh at her. Okay. You’re adorable. Who are you? What are you? KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. BROOKS: Watch it follow him
and where’s its eyes walk now. SUBJECT: I want to
show you something. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: This is a watch
that my girlfriend gave me. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: Yeah, look it’s got
a little blue light on it too. I almost lost it this week. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: You know what it’s
like to lose something? KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: You are amazing. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. BROOKS: Notice him
imitating the robot. SUBJECT: I’m going to
try closing my eyes. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: Let me try
opening my eyes. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: Am I too close? KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: No, stop! Oh, no, no. I got to talk now. No, no, stop! Listen to me. Listen to me. I think we have
something going on. Oh, I think there’s
something here between us. KISMET: [INAUDIBLE]. SUBJECT: Stop! You got to let me talk. Kismet, I think we got
something going on here. KISMET: We’re in love. SUBJECT: You and me. You’re amazing. What are you? BROOKS: I think
we’ll stop there. So here we’ve got the machine
able to elicit from a person the responses they normally
give to other people. It’s not the responses a person
normally gives to a machine. If that Paperclip
on Microsoft Word comes up and asks you
some dumb question, you just click it
out of existence. You don’t care about
that paper clip. But here with this physical
presence and the ability to have these social interaction
cues that we’re all used to, it elicits from people the
same sorts of cues back. And we’ve seen this sort
of thing happening in toys. The Tamagotchi– the Furby
did this a little bit. And a toy that I’ve
been involved with, which will be coming out this
year from Hasbro at Christmas, is a humanoid doll with
facial expressions, but not quite as
much interaction as you just saw then. So we’re starting to see
in our lives machines which have some of these properties
being mass produced. And in the labs, as
I just showed you, we’ve gone a lot further. Where does this ultimately lead? Well, as these machines not
only have emotional content, but also have intellectual
content coupled with that so they’re
not just babbling but are saying
intelligent things, will we ultimately accept
these machines into our lives? And this has been a
theme in science fiction over the last few years. This is from just last
year, The Millennium Man, where this robot spent 200
years trying to be classified as equivalent to a human. We’re just starting to
put the pieces together. We’re starting to get
machines able to interact with us this way. If the progression
continues to happen, will we ultimately be
faced with these questions of whether to accept machines
as ultimately our equals? What will their
ultimate nature be? Will they just be hunks of
junk designed by someone else? This was a phrase that was used
by John Searle, a philosophy professor at Berkeley that’s
described Deep Blue when it beat the world chess champion. Ah, it’s just a hunk of junk. Or will they, in principle,
be fully fledged animats in the same way
living creatures are animats that have genuine
emotions, visceral emotions. Will we treat them as
beings rather than things? Will we empathize with them? And as my former student,
Cynthia Breazeal says, will we treat them as an
appliance or as a friend? So that’s a pretty
difficult question, but let’s ask ourselves whether
we are willing to attribute real emotions to machines? Can a robot be afraid? I think most AI
researchers these days would say that robots
or programs can reason about facts. They can make decisions. They can have goals. But I think most
researchers in AI, they’re willing to say robots
can act as if they’re afraid. They can seem to be afraid. They can simulate having fear. But I’m not sure
most people today would be willing to say that
robots could really have fear. They just simulate fear. I talked about the robot
Kismet having emotions and being a point in that three
dimensional emotional space. Is it the same as
having emotions, or is that just a simulation
or a model of emotions? I don’t think most
people today are willing to say that robots
are viscerally afraid. But is that just because of
our technological capabilities right now, or is that an
absolute that we think machines can never be
viscerally afraid– can never have real emotions? Emotions are reserved
for us, us humans. Machines– they’re just cold,
hard, calculating engines. Well, when faced with
those sorts of arguments, I reflect on mankind’s
retreat from specialness over the last few centuries. With Galileo and
others, we had to admit that Earth was no longer
the center of the universe. Earth wasn’t the special
location in the universe. It was just a little outpost
in an unremarkable galaxy. It wasn’t the center. With Darwin, we had to admit
that humans and animals have common ancestors. And that was in the 1860s,
and still in many places in the US today, that is
not commonly accepted. Over the last few
years, we’ve understood that the mechanisms of
DNA– we see that we’re very similar to yeast. We share a lot of
genes with the yeast. With computation, we have
come to see human thought as something that
fits on machines, and we’ve had to give up
that we’re better chess players than the machines. Biochemistry shows
that we are collections of tiny machines,
little molecules doing their thing together and
interacting, and that makes us. And over the last
two or three years, we’ve seen that
human flesh and body plans are subject to
technological manipulation because we’ve seen that
happen with Dolly the sheep and in mutations
in other animals where we can control
how the body plans form. The same could be done
in principle to humans– is not done on the moral basis. So over time, we’ve
had to retreat from specialness to be
pretty much just machines. And in my view, the way
we’ve put the wall around it, we say, well, robots can’t
really feel emotions. It’s only humans. That’s what makes us special. But perhaps as we
build these robots, and they get better
and better at this, we may have to make
this jump and retreat from specialness even more. And it’s important to note
that the emotional models are only one component of us
getting to treat robots as equals to us. The emotional content is often
in the eye of the observer. The level of engagement is often
in the eye of the observer. And we saw that in
those videotapes with the person interacting
with the robot there. The woman who was saying
just, “Hello, hello” wasn’t really interacting, but
the guy who was following her really was interacting. And the observer is a
component of the dynamics of the behavior of the robot. So as our systems
become more complex and the engagement for
more people is longer term, the illusion that
they’re not artificial will be shattered less often. Now, is that enough to
make them equal to us? And I like this quote
from Sherry Turkle when she came to my
lab a few years ago. And this is from her
book Life on the Screen. She came into my lab
and Cog noticed her after it entered the room. And she found herself
competing with another visitor for its attention. She felt sure that Cog’s
eyes had caught her own. And this left her shaken, not
because Cog was that fantastic, but for years, she’d
sort of been brushing off my robotic creatures as
not being real creatures. But she had found herself–
get rid of those quotation marks for little bit–
only for a few minutes. Or probably in her case, it
was only about 30 seconds. So she’s continually skeptical
about the research project, but she had behaved
for an instant of time as in the presence
of another being. When we put naive subjects in
front of Kismet, some of them will sit there for 15
or 20 or 25 minutes and interact as though
it’s another being. So we’ve gone from
almost nothing to 25 minutes in the
last seven years. Maybe we’ll never get
beyond 25 minutes. But as our technology
increases, maybe we’ll be able to get those
interactions to go on for hours and days and weeks. And then what is the
status of those machines? Are they just
machines, or are we continuing to treat
them in human like ways? So when I talk about this, and
especially when I talk about it to reporters,
reporters always say, but will these machines,
when they get really smart, will they want to
take over from us? And this has been the subject
of a lot of science fiction. Will the robots want
to take over from us? And I used to sort
of brush that off and say, oh, we don’t
need to worry about that. That’s far in the future. But recently, I realized
that the answer is no. The robots will never
take over from us. And it was sort of driven home
to me about six months ago when I was waiting for an
elevator in the AI Lab, and the doors opened
and out walked Hugh Herr, who’s a
researcher in our lab– also has an appointment
at Harvard Medical School. And from here up, he
was pretty much human. From here down, he
was totally robot. He happens to be
a double amputee, and in our Leg Lab at the
Artificial Intelligence Lab, we’ve been building
prosthetic legs, which are intelligent robots
attached to people. So he was half
robot, half person. And it wasn’t like
it was in the lab. It wasn’t like it was a
nicely dressed up leg. There were computers
hanging on the sides, cable harnesses hanging out. And this person
is walking along, and he’s clearly robot down here
and clearly person up there. Now, that got me thinking a
little more that ultimately– there’s Hugh with one
of the legs on– one of the prototypes. That got me thinking
a little more that although in
the last Millennium we came to rely on our
machines, in the new Millennium, we’re going to
become our machines. And I’ll show you
how that’s happening in just a second in a
deeper way than just attaching artificial limbs. So my answer to
reporters now is, no, we don’t need to fear the machines
because we, the man-machines, will always be a step ahead
of the machine-machines because we’re going to
be adopting the best technology into our bodies. Why would we do this? Well, leg and arm prostheses
are easy to understand. You want better. You don’t want an
artificial arm on an amputee that can’t do much. You want capabilities
with fingers, and so you want to build a
really good robot like The Six Million Dollar Man. But also now there
are tens of thousands of people walking around
with cochlear implants. These are people
who’ve become deaf and now have implants in their
ears, which take in the signal electronically and then
directly connect to their nerve system at about six
different frequency bands and give them enough hearing
to understand speech– not understand music, but
to understand speech. And there are tens of
thousands of people with those implanted–
direct electronic to neural connections. A lot of that work’s being
done at MIT, by the way. Also, people have
started to experiment with retinal implants. Professor John
Wyatt here at MIT is one of those people– number
of people in other places– where for people who have
become blind through macular degeneration, the
idea is to try and put essentially a video
chip in the eye to replace the front
end of the retina and then connect up
to the neural system. And they have done
clinical trials where they have put chips
in blind people’s eyes. Not permanently– only for
about 24 hours at a time– and had connections bonded to
the person’s visual system, and people have been
able to not see, but detect light changes
and those sorts of things. So it’s a long way
off from giving sight, but hearing works–
hearing speech works. Retinal implants–
it looks like it will work in the next few years. So there’s good clinical reasons
to be connecting electronics to our neural systems. Electrodes in the
thalamus has now become a common treatment
for Parkinson’s disease. So good clinical reasons are
driving our digital technology and our robotic technology to
become interfaced to people. There’ve been other experiments
in animals with nerve fibers growing through chips. And we have a long-term
project in the AI Lab with one of our faculty
members, Steve Massaquoi, who’s also an MD who wants to solve
some of the tremor problems that Parkinson’s disease
patients have by doing connections from the cerebellum
to the muscles directly and bypass some of
the nerve fibers. So getting digital machinery
into the control system of a person to counter diseases. That’s not there yet. But it’s certainly
things that people are writing research
proposals about and getting research funding for. And then other people are trying
to put intracranial implants of neural circuits into
patients with deficiencies in their brain to try and
recover some lost functions. Again, this is
very experimental, but you sort of see
the trend from things that are connecting electronics
and digital electronics to the nerve system into
more and more complex things driven by
clinical desires to help people who
have medical problems. In the United Kingdom,
pets these days have locator chips
implanted under their skin, and there’s even
actually a couple of academics who have made
some names for themselves by doing this also in
the United Kingdom. This is so you can locate
and identify your pets. Maybe this will ultimately
be used by some governments to label people. But then from a more
medical point of view, there’s the idea
of guardian angels where you have implanted in your
body something that constantly measures your vital signs, your
temperature, your blood sugar level, et cetera. Because it turns out, everyone
has a unique signature of what is normal for them,
and by monitoring that and then alerting via wireless networking
some machine in your home when things are going
out of parameters, that can tell you when your
coming down with something. So there’s clinical reasons that
you might want this guardian angel embedded in your body. And people are actively
working on this, and so I think we can expect to
see that happen in a few years. Beyond that, if we get
these intracranial implants and neural circuits
working and can actually get some understanding across
the digital neural divide, which is somewhat more general
then where we’re currently able to fully do it
with cochlear implants and partially with
retinal, I think there will be a real push to
have connections to the Net as it becomes more
and more pervasive. I tell my kids,
okay, so you want to rebel against me by putting
a stub through your tongue. Well, your kids are going
to rebel against you by getting a wireless
internet connection directly in their head. Now, in the Olympics
we don’t let athletes who have been
taking steroids compete. So maybe when these
first get implanted, we’ll stop kids with them from
taking their SATs or something like that. But it’s no longer
a good enough excuse that your eyesight is
poor not to take the SATs. Get some glasses or
go down to the mall and get some
surgery on your eyes like the other kids are doing. So I think before very long,
if this technology works out, we’ll make it compulsory. There’ll be the
iSATs or the eSATs or something where you have
to have an internet connection in order to take them. So that digital technology
is getting into our flesh for medical reasons. But there’s another wave coming
a slightly different direction. We’ve had 50 years of
molecular biology, which have produced analysis
tools to let us know what’s going on inside cells. Those analysis tools are
now being turned around to be engineering tools. We’ve seen gross level
genetic interventions in cloning and
genetic therapies. Some of the work down
at the AI Lab right now is we have digital
control over living cells where we have software
that compiles down to DNA which gets inserted
into living cells, and then that hijacks the
mechanisms of the living cells to do some computation and
control at the molecular level of the proteins being formed
by that cell, which then go across the cell boundary and
communicate with other cells, which then receive messages. And they have their
own compiled piece of software in the
DNA form inside them, and they do some
other computations. So we’re now able– this is in
E coli, not in mammalian cells– but in E coli, we’re
able to control digitally the processes
inside living cells. Hugh Herr, who I
mentioned before, is also building cultured
muscle cells as part of robots. So biotechnology is
now also getting us to the point where we’re able
to control and intervene in what was our pristine bodies before. So with all this,
will we ultimately be immortal with
all this technology? I think more and
more of our bodies will be able to be changed
and repaired in better ways than we’ve currently
been able to do. We won’t have to go in
with a chisel and a hammer and bash away at
a thigh bone when we want to insert a new hip
joint as we currently do. It will get a little
technologically more precise the way we do things. We’ll be able to change
more part of our bodies. We’ll be able to repair
more parts of our bodies. And we might ultimately
become something like a B52. You know, the B52s that
are the flying around now have the same serial
numbers as the ones that were flying 40 years ago, but
the engines have been changed. The flaps have been changed. All the pieces get changed
out from underneath them, they’re still the same B52. In the next 100
years, I don’t think we’re going to be able to
replace everything in the body, but lots of pieces
will be replaceable. So in the foreseeable future,
and foreseeable, I think, is the 50– well, is
100 years foreseeable? In the foreseeable future,
we’ll not become immortal. I don’t think we’re going to
be able to download ourselves into digital domain
and completely get rid of our bodies. I think we’re going to
have these bodies which have components replaced. But I think we will
live longer and longer. I think that we may
become more intellectually powerful than in the past,
and we have seen that even with the tools that are
slightly outside of ourselves becoming more
intellectually powerful over the history of time. And there’s a curve
that goes like that on this intellectual power. But as we get into
these changes, we may not be the
same species anymore. As we have more and more
genetic interventions and as we have more and
more of these intellectual interventions because
our intellectual societal interactions are part of
what makes the same species, I think we will
become something else. And we will be as alien
in 100 years from now and 200 years from
now to today’s people as us, the year
2000 people, would be with all our paraphernalia
to someone from 1,000 years or 2,000 years ago. So our species is
going to change. And the robots
will not takeover, but we will become
partially robots. I think I’ll hand over
to the next speaker. Thank you. MITCHELL: As Rodney was
talking about these strange new creatures with a certain amount
of emotional intelligence, difficult to understand, maybe
want to take over from us, seem a little bit
alien, I was reminded of the way I felt
when I first realized I was the parent of a teenager. With that, let me introduce
some Rosalind Picard, one of our very interesting
and exciting young faculty members from the
Media Lab who will speak about the
emotionally smart machine. Rosalind? PICARD: Good morning. I’m waiting for my
computer to wake up. No reflection on
Rod’s great talk. Actually, I tend to
often get plagued by technological
problems these days with talks, which
actually aids the subject matter of my talk,
which is about how people deal with
frustration and technology. Except this is not one of
our experiments right now. Rod talked about
the Kismet project which– I think it’s really
time for us to loosen up here. Where you saw Kismet
really having a lot of fun with people, he also
mentioned the Paperclip, which I think is well
known by lot of you, and how we don’t think
of that as a social because it’s not embodied. But I’m going to tell
you about some surprises with people’s behavior that
may make you think differently about even the technology
in your laptop, palmtop, and soon-to-be your jacket
and shoes and so forth. First, just briefly, a little
bit more about emotion. Sometimes people, when they
hear us talk about emotion, they think, what is it? If those AI guys just
decided that they couldn’t make any more progress in
the really important areas– intelligence and
reasoning and so forth. Why are they
interested in emotion? Well, it turns out there’ve
been a lot of really surprising findings lately about the role
of emotion in intelligence. Not just best sellers like
Dan Goldman’s book Emotional Intelligence, but also top
sellers like Damasio’s book Descartes’ Error by a–
he’s a neuroscientist. And the findings
suggest that even when you are engaged in the most
rational and intelligent of tasks like perceiving
information or making decisions in a very
reasonable way, that the other
parts of the brain, such as the limbic system,
these lower level structures, are actually engaged
in this as well. So what we have thought
to be the higher level rational functions
in the cortex, the visual cortex, the
auditory cortex and so forth, actually involve signaling that
happens in the limbic system even before we
engage the cortex. This will be familiar
to you if you think of the example of fear. You’re hiking through the
woods, and all of a sudden, you jump out of the way only
to realize moments later that that was a stick
and not a snake. Your limbic system
recognized the snake, got your body to respond
before the visual cortex kicked in and said, oh,
it’s just a stick. Now, we all know, of
course, that people who are emotional in the sense
of some outburst of emotion are not being very reasonable. What’s surprising though is it’s
also been found that in people with a certain kind
of brain damage, if you actually have
too little emotion, it’s also the case
that you don’t act in such a reasonable way. This is where Data has led
a lot of people astray– the Star Trek character who has
the emotion chip, the android. And when Data is reading
poetry or wanting to learn about romance, he
clicks on his emotion chip and can engage in those things. But when he’s trying to
be the rational scientist, he clicks off his emotion chip. Well, that’s really misleading. If you had an emotion
chip, if we replaced that part of your body,
and you turned it off, and if it was functioning the
way that emotions function in a human brain now,
what we would find is you actually would
cease to become rational when it was turned
off, especially when it comes to social and personally
significant interactions. So what we’re finding
is that emotion isn’t just important for
being emotional in poetry and social situations,
but also for rational and even scientific reasoning. Now, what may surprise
you is that you’re not just social when
you’re confronted with a character that has
a human body and face, but when you’re confronted
even with something like a TV set or a regular
non-humanoid-like computer, we default to a lot of
social forms of interaction. Here, the work of
Reeves and Nass at that other institution
on the West Coast, Stanford, is very interesting. And this is a picture of a man
eating dinner with his TV set. What they have shown–
and initially we thought this was just Stanford
computer science students this worked on– what they’ve
shown, for example, is that when you
interact with a computer, let’s say a computer
gives you a presentation, the computer has no
face or voice or body, it just simply presents
you with some information. And at the end says, please
rate how this computer did. And let’s say you really like
it, so you give it a seven. Then you go over to
another computer, and it says, please rate
how that computer did. Well, it turns out that Stanford
computer science students are a little nicer
to the computer face to face than they
are behind its back. Behind its back,
they give it a six. Now, they deny doing
this when it happens. And in fact, Reeves
and Nass have run dozens of these
kinds of experiments where they take a classical
human-human interaction, take out the human,
put in the computer, and ask if the results
of the interaction still hold such as that you
tend to be slightly nicer face to face. And the results still hold. Now, we have found
that this kind of thing even works on the East
Coast with MIT and others. But this has very
important implications for how we design not just
robotic interactions, but all of the interactions
and the technology that are starting
to fill our cities and our automobiles
and our natural spaces. So it’s important then to look
very closely at the subtle cues that we read in
human-human interaction because those
appear to carry over to human-computer interaction. So let’s say everybody’s
putting Microsoft Windows on your dashboard these days. All the car companies
we’re talking to talk about a frightening
situation– fear. So suppose that your
automatic navigation system is going to give you help. When should it do it? Well, we can look
at things like when a person is offering you help. And suppose that they
just accidentally don’t do it at a good time. Well, what do you do? Well, your natural
social cues kick in, and you will subtly
send them a message that that was bad timing. Well, if the person reads those
affective cues of disliking and rejection,
then they will note that that behavior they
did was inappropriate and modify the interaction
the next time, hopefully– if they’re smart, if
they’re emotionally savvy. What Reeves and
Nass’ theory predicts is that you can just
take out the word “human” in a
situation that works, put in the word “computer,” and
then the same prediction should hold. If that navigation system or
that machine in your kitchen kicks in, turns out people
express their feelings at it. In fact, people are very
expressive at these machines. I was surprised
to read– you guys may have heard about
the guy in Colorado who got so frustrated with this
machine he actually shot it three times through the
monitor and two times through the hard drive and
was taken away by the police. A surprising statistic– even
kids, users under the age 25 in a very large survey
done in the UK, 25% of them admitted to having physically
kicked their machine out of frustration with it. So we express emotion,
maybe not the best of ways, but we do it quite
naturally to machines. So the emotionally savvy machine
should see this little bit of feedback that is positive
or negative, how intense it is, and that should go into
its learning system. It should recognize the
state of what it’s doing and use that to
adjust its behavior. Now, Rod showed a picture
of Kismet’s emotions lying in a space, the arousal,
valence, stance space. The first two
dimensions of that are two of the most common
forms of describing emotion. By the way, emotion
theorists don’t really know what emotion is. They disagree on
definitions of it. There’s even a paper
that goes through over 100 definitions of it. But nonetheless, we can begin to
describe certain aspects of it and use those in
designing technology. The arousal space
has to do– you saw Kismet when he was tired at
the bottom, excited at the top. When your about now,
end of the morning, your blood sugar is
low, you’re probably all pretty low on this
arousal space. Valence is positive or negative. If you’re liking something,
you’re over on the right. If you’re disliking it,
you’re over on the left. You can imagine the
tremendous applications of sensing just these
two aspects of emotion in consumer feedback
and product feedback and certainly in
advertising and those areas. One place where my student Matt
Norwood built this in– you may have heard of information
appliances– computing sneaking into everything
you interact with. You can simply give
valence feedback to our coffee machine
in the Media Lab. If you liked the cappuccino it
gave you– good job, Mr. Java. Thumbs up. If you don’t like it–
darn this machine. All I got was three
cups of frothy milk when I asked for decaf. You can hit the thumbs down. The machine keeps track of what
it’s doing and associates that with the kind of user feedback
so that it can, in this case, let the service people know the
points of greatest irritation. So that’s all associated
with interstate diagrams and so forth. Similarly, we have
worked somewhat with regular interfaces. You may have heard of
IBM’s emotion mouse that senses some
physiological signals. What actually seems to be a
little more appropriate to do from the mouse is to
sense pressure changes. As you’re moving things
around, you naturally tend to pull towards things
you like, push away from things you don’t, bash on things. We’ve characterized
four basic clusters of sort of bashing clicking
patterns among users who are frustrated to sort
of gage the intensity of their interaction. So the thumbs, up
thumbs down gives you a quick and dirty
measure of valence. Something like the intensity
of hitting something or the repeatedness
of that helps to give a clue to
the arousal level. There are many other
things we can measure. And in specific spaces,
we’re not just interested in arousal and valence,
but in emotions like confusion, frustration,
stress, interest, boredom. One wearable
computing system that was developed by my graduate
student, Jocelyn Scheirer, shown here. She is not usually this upset. She’s furrowing her brow trying
to make a face of confusion. Here she’s wearing the glasses
she designed in stealth mode So that I can’t see what she’s
expressing with her face, but the computer can. And here’s an early
version of them with electromyograph
sensors in the brow sensing corrugator and other muscle
activity above the brow. I’ll play a short video
of these glasses being used to communicate the
affect of expression directly to the computer and
possibly through the computer to a lecturer. This is a mock
lecture situation. The lecture you will hear
is deliberately confusing. But there was no rehearsal
or anything for the students. They just plopped
down and listened, Raul Fernandez on your right
is just wearing the sensor, and Jocelyn is wearing glasses. And you’ll see the bar
graph in front of Jocelyn go up when she furrows
her brow in confusion, and Raul’s go up when he
furrows his brow in confusion. PROFESSOR: Every
college graduate should have adequate
writing skills. A writing exam should
be given before students receive their college diploma. No matter what field one
enters, unambiguous writing is essential to not
avoid understanding. Since misunderstanding cannot
occur with unambiguous, the university misunderstands
its purpose when it graduates students who do not understand
the importance of not ambiguously communicating
their understanding to others. In order to graduate
those students who have unambiguous
writing skills, they should have to take a test
which would unambiguously assess the level of ambiguity
present in their writing. PICARD: Kind of reminds you
of some lectures at MIT. Now, that was a very
simple sensing coupled with some signal processing
to clean up the signal, and with a little bit
more signal processing, slightly different
flavor of the sensor, we can discriminate upward and
downward expressions– upwards that tend to be indicative
of interest or openness, downward that tend to be
indicative of confusion and this sadness or disapproval. What we can also do
with computer vision is look at the entire system of
facial actions that’s happening and begin to recognize whole
patterns of facial expressions. I chose not to show you that
here because what people often forget is that there are
a lot of applications where we’ve tried to bring our
technology into the real world. We’ve deployed it among
real, truly frustrated users around MIT. And they often do
not want a camera monitoring their behavior. In fact, none of them
so far have checked box saying they would like a camera. When however there’s a
sensor that only measures a tiny aspect of
what they’re doing, they are a little more
comfortable with that initially. So we’re recognizing that
sometimes less is more when it comes to sensing. Maybe a camera seems
less obtrusive, but ultimately psychologically,
it can be even more obtrusive. We’ve also made some
very exciting progress in wearable systems, systems
we’ve sewn into clothing, blood volume pressure [INAUDIBLE]
respiration sensor sewn into a sports bra, skin
connectivity sensors sewn into gloves and
shoes that, sensing for physiological signals and
a bunch of features of these and using new pattern
recognition tools– we’ve been developing new
coupled with old– we’re up to a discrimination
rate of greater than 81% on a group of eight
emotions expressed by one person over many weeks
of data, which is very exciting. It says that the
computer you wear could really get to know
things about your body and get to know
something I think that’s particularly important. If this– get to know
your response to it. If your computer is
just in your briefcase, and you only bring it
out a few hours a day, it’s okay if it kind of
irritates because you could just put it back. If however, your computer is
in every room of your house and in your clothing,
it’s really important that it not irritate you. So it’s very important
that it begin to read your responses to its behavior. We’re doing this in
transportation systems. There’s been a lot
of work, of course, on pilots over the years. We’re looking now at the
average driver and stress that he or she goes under. We’ve run experiments with
drivers in the Boston area. We don’t have to have these
million dollar simulators and put people under
accidents and stuff like that. We just let them
drive around Boston. And it’s amazing the
range of stress we get. Given different
driving conditions like resting in
the garage, driving through the city of Cambridge,
avoiding pedestrians, bicyclists, traffic
lights, and so forth, driving through
the traffic lights around here, highway driving,
non-rush hour, we’re up to 96% recognition accuracy
discriminating those conditions and slightly lower
than that when you’re correlating the results
with their self-report level of stress. Self-report level of stress
is ultimately very hard to pin down. People have
different perceptions of their own emotions and
different willingness in terms of reporting them as well. This is work with
Jennifer Healey who just completed her doctoral thesis. Now, perhaps the
most common emotion we see around machines that we
really want them to recognize is frustration. And here we see that it’s
not so easy to recognize. In the upper left,
the user is simply tensing his facial muscles. In the upper right,
she’s shaking her hair. In the lower left,
she’s shaking her hands. And then in the
center, Jonathan Klein is actually having physical
contact with the machine. We see many ways of
expressing frustration, as alluded to earlier, from
yelling at it to physically interacting with it. And what we would like to do is
move beyond just recognizing it to actually responding to
it in an appropriate way and parallel evolve both
aspects of the system. Now, I won’t go
into detail on this. The basic idea is
to figure out what happens in a
human-human interaction, take out the human,
put in the computer. If it’s a good thing to do
in human-human interaction to acknowledge the frustration,
and that’s true only in certain situations,
then we will try to, in those same
situations, do that in the computer-human situation. So we built a system that
practices those skills. This is Jonathan
Klein’s thesis work. And what it does–
the system he built us what’s called here an
emotion-support agent. Basically responds with a
little bit of active listening, empathy, and sympathy. We compared it to two
control conditions– an agent that just ignored
the user’s emotions, which is what most systems do now, and
an agent that basically ignored the emotions, but
then at the end said, is there anything
frustrating that happened, oh, and boy, did they report lots
of things as frustrating? That was the vent condition. But the computer did not
respond to what they reported. Just let them reported. We frustrated two
groups of users. They did not know
they were going to be frustrated, of course. We debriefed them
on that afterwards. If you tell a subject that we’re
going to try to frustrate you, they won’t get frustrated. So we told them they were
going to come in and test play this cool new
computer graphics game. So they came in and
they played this game, and in the middle of the
game, we had things go wrong. It would freeze up–
internet delays. And we thought, well,
that’s not going to really frustrate people. So what we have to do is
get them personally invested in this. We didn’t want people who
are just great game players. So what we did is got people
with minimal game playing experience, but who
we told this was a test of their intelligence. And since these
were MIT students, they are really invested
themselves in it. So the clock’s racing ahead. They’re trying to
solve these puzzles. And we have things
freeze up on them. They got very
frustrated down here. After interacting with one of
these three conditions, 12, 11, 11 people– each of
these conditions– they were invited to go
back to the game that had caused their frustration. They had to play it
for three more minutes. After three minutes,
the quit button came on, and we measured their behavior
after that three minutes. Did they hang in there
and play with it, or did they get up and leave? Now, the human-human
situation prediction is that if this were human
and a human frustrated you, and this were some
other interaction, and it reduced your
frustration, then when you had to go back to
that original human and interact with them, if you
were still very frustrated, you would minimize your
interaction with them. If however, you
were feeling better, you would be more inclined
to hang out longer. What did we find? We found a very
significant difference. The people who had received the
emotionally savvy interaction, which by the way, took
a lot less time to do than it takes me to explain
it– it’s very quick. Just a couple minutes. They stayed over here
significantly longer than the controls. And that was true across
the low frustration and high frustration conditions. Now, this should raise a lot
of questions in your mind. Not just issues Rod
brought up about machines that might feel– if a
computer’s expressing empathy to you, I mean,
does it really feel? I’ve had one person
say to me, gee, I’ll accept it’s sympathy for my
pain once it can feel pain. I want that robot
to feel my pain. Well, we all know that it
is possible for a husband to show appropriate empathy
to his wife during labor even though presumably
he will never feel the pain of
childbirth and so forth. There are many cases
where we can appropriately address somebody’s
frustration without actually feeling that pain. So I’m not sure
that’s a requirement. I’m going to whip through these
because there are a lot of them here. But there’s the issue
of– Rod addressed the specialness, the thought
of us becoming less important, the thought that if you
could– in the Lascaux cave paintings, when they
duplicated them so that more people could see them,
somehow the originals became less special because
of this ability to duplicate it in some way. So to the extent that we can
duplicate something in machine, does that make it less special? Now, I actually differ
with Rod on the extent to which we’re duplicating
these things in machines. But it’s a matter of extent. So there are
several things here. One factor that’s
particularly disturbing and was brought to my attention
by a very large computer maker whom you all know–
some of their executives, former researchers, were
Sloan Fellows visiting. And when they heard
about our work with the emotion
support agent, they said, gee, we’re not
surprised by that. We ran a very large
survey of our customers, and the customers who
had used our technology– and compared the customers
who had used our technology and had problems with it
and gotten emotionally smart support to the customers
who had used our technology and not had any
problems with it. Which of those two groups was
most likely to buy our product again? Turned out the group who had had
problems with their technology and gotten good support
was significantly more likely to buy their brand again
than the people who had had no problems with the machines. Now, that should disturb you. The short take-home message
is frustrate your customers, handle it well,
and they’ll be more likely to buy your product. So was that then their strategy? Really deliberately
frustrate people? Well, we never got around
to answering that question. But you can guess the real
answer is, these days you have to get a
product out there so fast that there’s no
time to really get all the kinks out of it. So when it’s only 80%
ready, we, the customers, bear the brunt, the
frustration, the stress, the resulting health
consequences of that increased stress. And we don’t see the
price-performance curve include the amount of stress
that it adds to us. One more one I’ll mention
briefly since yesterday was commencement day, and
that’s– many years ago, I don’t know if you were at the
commencement when Lee Iacocca spoke. But on that beautiful
June afternoon in our lovely courtyard, he
took the wind out of the sails, if you will. Well, this one refers to
the wind out of the sails. Everybody is there
celebrating– and you know how wonderful it is
to be there celebrating this great occasion
of commencement– and he yelled at the
graduates not congratulations, but you must get angry. And they’re like, huh? Wait a minute. This is a joyful day. Does he realize where he is? And he said it again. You must get angry. Well, for a long time,
people talked about this. And what they realized
the message was, was if you really want to make
a great change in the world, the negative emotion of anger
is a very strong motivator. In other words, someone
who just always tries to alleviate all those
negative emotions, get rid of the customer’s
frustration and so forth, is also potentially
robbing you of the goad you need to make
positive change. So negative valence
emotions do not necessarily mean that they are a bad thing. We know of many cases where the
strong negative emotions lead to much better change overall. There are lots of keys–
ways to address this, and I’ll give you a
URL and book pointer at the end to where you can
find out much more about these. We are concerned
about these issues, but we do also think
that they’re addressable. So we welcome dialog on
all of this as we go. I hear a lot– people
sometimes say, gee, you guys talk about making
things that think, making machines emotionally savvy. What about making
people that think and people emotionally savvy? And in fact, the number insurer
of physicians in the Boston area said that they had done a
large study of which physicians who had had a particular
thing go wrong, which ones were most
likely to get sued? Both groups had the same
kind of problem go wrong. These guys were
likely to get sued. These guys weren’t. What was the big difference? Well, the big difference
seemed to have as a very large component
of it the ability to have this
appropriate rapport, empathy, emotional skills
communicated to the patient. So they put this very large
dollar figure on this problem. Some of you who have autistic
kids– and by the way, people at places like
MIT are much more likely to have autistic
kids than people at more liberal arts
schools and so forth– may know that autistic kids
suffer– it’s very broad class of disorder, but there’s a
strong tendency among them to suffer from an inability
to recognize and respond appropriately to emotion. So we’ve taken some
of our technology and built a system
that works with kids. This is the ASQ system
developed by Kathy Blocher that showed clips of various
emotional scenarios to the autistic kids. And in trials with this
at the Dan Marino Center down in Florida,
the six kids who lasted through
the lengthy trials showed several
significant improvements in their ability to
recognize emotion within the context of
the computer environment. And there appears to be some
extension of that into the home environment. But of course, it
takes a long time to really make solid
claims about that. So I’m wrapping up here. I’ll just say briefly,
I’ve mentioned some issues in sensing signals. We’ve been building new
sensors– mice, pressure sensors, new tangible
interfaces, wearable interfaces that gather information
from you and then run that through pattern
recognition signal processing to try to infer
things about your state. So this is different from
really knowing how you feel. Your feelings truly
involve thoughts as well as physical expressions. So we can’t really recognize
what you’re feeling. We just recognize
expressions of it. And then I’ve given
you one example of a system that tries to
reduce frustration, respond to those emotions,
and just mention that we’re engaged
in work now, trying to help teach affective skills. Now, in all of this work
where we mention emotion, it’s just extremely
important to remind ourselves that with emotion,
there is a time that you should pay
careful attention to it. There’s also a
time to ignore it. There’s a time to express
emotion and a time to suppress it and so forth. And every time, however,
we need to balance. And it’s the balance that’s
been missing from computers. I am not arguing that
we should make computers these emotionally gushy, goofy,
friendly machines and so forth. What we’re simply
trying to do is to move to a balance that
is not present today because of an almost total lack of
attention to this topic. So what we’re trying
to move toward is machines that appropriately
express, respond to, and show respect for human emotions. So I’ll close by leaving
you with the URL where I invite you to come and
download papers, find more information. There’s a book on
this that addresses a whole spectrum of
topics related to this as well published by MIT Press. And we’ll welcome
your questions now. Thank you. MITCHELL: Well,
thank you, everybody. And we still do have
quite a reasonable amount of time for questions. And I promise I will get you
out of here in time for lunch. Our low-tech question collection
system worked extremely well, and so I have a very large
stack of questions here. And I’m going to
ask the first one. And I’m going to toss
it out to our speakers. And meanwhile, I’m going
to look through the rest of the questions to see. So I’m going to toss
this one to all of you. Anybody can pick it up. And the question is how
will all these technologies transform the third world? BROOKS: I’ll start with that. We’ve seen over the last few
years, one, to me at least, surprising thing that these
technologies have done is we’ve managed to
shift intellectual work to the third world. So a lot of computer
software development is now done in India and some
in China because of availability of networks. I actually think that
over the next few years, we’re going to see
more shift of labor for things like
the hair cutting. Or maybe not the
hair cutting exactly, but things which
apparently require a person to be there and
do something physical, but they don’t actually have
to be that intellectual. So you can imagine
security guards could be in a third world country
for some installation here in Boston where
there are cameras sitting around,
watching at night or watching during the day. And when they detect
an anomaly of some sort but they really
need a human to make the judgment of whether
this is a serious anomaly or whether it’s just a
piece of paper blowing through the scene, that decision
could be made by someone in the third world
country who gets shipped those images with
a latency of a second or something. They look at it, they
make the decision, and they’re providing
valuable work here in Boston which is
not highly skilled. So that’s just the edge of it. Then as the robots become more
physically able to do things with manipulation as they are
being pushed by surgery robot research, we’ll also
get physical work where the people
can tele-operate in a supervisory role. Robots doing things
like cleaning bathrooms in a remote location. That’s the hardest thing to do,
to get people to actually get in the bathrooms and clean
them in commercial cleaning. That can be remote, and as
soon as that can be remote, that can be around the
other side of the world. So I think this physical work
will migrate around the world and labor markets don’t
have to be restricted to where we are physically. PICARD: As you may know,
the MIT Media Lab’s opening a whole new
center, the OKAWA Center for Future Children
addressing in large effort how to have a positive
effort on the third world. And actually, I would
flip that around too. The third world can have a very
positive impact on us as well. That involves things like
instead of sending computers, send a printer and the
capability for them to print to their
own computers– new technology, penny PCs,
PCs that cost a penny each. On another note, when it comes
to actually using these things, there’s always a
barrier of language. And there’s work in
our labs such as that by Deb Roy on computers that
would learn the language as you interact with them in ways that
somewhat imitate the way we think children learn. In fact, Kismet’s next
step is to do that as well. And one of the really
important things to note about the
Kismet project there is that it’s paying
attention to a key signal that humans seem
to use in learning, and it’s a universal
signal across all cultures, and that’s the affect. Is the child pleasing
the person who’s teaching them the English,
the caregiver, or not? And if the computer is
going to learn from you, it’s really got to
have this feedback in a natural and
social way so you don’t have to first go through
this huge learning curve to interact with it. If it defaults to learning what
you approve and disapprove of, then it can adjust
its learning loops to better adjust to your
language and your culture. SHEFFI: Just to add, I’m in fact
quite optimistic about the use of technology in general
because in the third world, to advance the third
world, we’re seeing already with, for example,
the use of cell phone, that one gets beyond
the need to put expensive infrastructure
in the ground in order to get communication. Once we start having
wireless broadband, it will bring
opportunities, I think, for education and communication
to the third world that are simply prohibitive
now because of the cost of the infrastructure that
has to go into the ground. And if we can
leapfrog a generation through the use of the
wireless technology and the inexpensive
devices, I think we can get to a world that is
much more connected and much more educated. And personally, I feel
that there a big hope there for balancing the current
social and economic inequities in the world in general. MITCHELL: There are a
couple of questions here that are directed towards me. Let me jump in and
answer these questions. Then I’m going to ask Professor
Sheffi to answer a question, but he needs his reading
glasses to read the question. One of the questions
here is a question– who’s concerned about the social
dynamics of work-at-home-based culture? And the questioner
points out, there is value in personal
interactions at the office around the
coffee pot and so on. And a second question very
closely connected to this asks, isn’t the absence of
face-to-face transactions reducing the quality of
personal interactions, de-energizing social
interaction and so on? These questions come up a lot. And let me sketch a couple
of interesting answers to these because some of the
answers are counter intuitive. The way to think about
these questions is to recognize that one technology
doesn’t usually separate– a new technology doesn’t
usually simply substitute for an older technology. You get typically some
substitution effects, but much more often, complementarity
effects and very interesting kinds of interactions. So a lot of these
sorts of questions, very legitimate questions,
arise from the sense that probably what happens is
that maybe email substitutes for face-to-face interaction,
and clearly there’s something lost in
that and so on, but it turns out to be
much more complicated. Let me do a little
thought experiment here– a little survey
among the audience. Let me ask all of you
to think for a moment about what’s the single
most common use of email? I assume you mostly use email. Of your own uses
of email, what’s the single thing you
use email for most? Now, if your like most people
I ask this question to, it’s for arranging
face-to-face meetings. That’s typically what’s
the highest use of email. And the reason for that
is you use very low cost, asynchronous, very
convenient interaction to arrange the highest
cost, of the most high-quality interaction
that you have, which is face to face. So two things, in fact,
end up working together in a way that’s a little
bit counter intuitive, but is not simply a
substitution effect. What happens in the workplace
is something like this– that through electronic
telecommunication, we get more flexibility
in the workplace, more flexibility in where we do work,
but that flexibility doesn’t end up producing
one simple result. So typically what
happens, for example, is the that telecommuting
capabilities give you the capability to
do private work in many different locations. You can get access
to databases– all of these kinds of things. So that becomes very flexible. The sort of work that in
a typical office building might be done a
Dilbert-like cubicle alone no longer has to be done
in that sort of context. You can do it anywhere. But a lot of things
that really do require that face-to-face
interaction– delicate negotiations, creative
problem solving in a group and so on– all of these
kinds of things still end up happening very much
in face-to-face context. So we’re seeing a shift in
the functions of office space. And this is very,
very clear if you look at the way
people are building office space these days. Much less emphasis
on private workspace. That can happen anywhere,
and happens on the road, it happens at home,
it happens in offices that are not private
offices, but you just occupy for a short
amount of time when you need it and so on. Much less emphasis on that
in the centralized workplace and much more emphasis, in
fact, on the social functions, the place to hang out,
the meeting rooms, the place where you
can come together in a congenial atmosphere
to work as a group. So I think what we’re
seeing generally is a restructuring of
the workplace and indeed the recognition that
face-to-face interaction remains very
important, but happens in different patterns
in different ways in different locations. We’re very unlikely to see
a scenario, to summarize, in which everybody spends
all their time at home in darkened rooms
in their underwear typing email messages
to each other. That’s not likely to be
the way that it goes. SHEFFI: Well, I’m not sure
about that, just to add to this. And I say I’m not
sure about that just because I look at my son. My son happens to just finish
his freshman year at MIT. Makes me very proud. But the way throughout
his teenage years that he was interacting
with his– and he came to me and had some problem
and says, Joe suggested that I
do this and that. Who is Joe? Joe is my friend. Who is your friend? You never brought him over. Well, he lives in
the Philippines. I mean, I never saw him. The way he automatically and
naturally was treating people that he never saw
in his life, using and ICQ and all these
methods to communicate with him internally,
creating his own community, I looked at him,
I said, as I said, this is a person
from another space. So I’m not sure. I still have doubts about where
we are going with all of this. MITCHELL: Well, one of the
ways to think about this is what to developers is a
kind of economy of presence, if you like, where we have the
whole spectrum of communication possibilities ranging in that
table you remember I showed from a face-to-face
synchronous communication, very high emotional intensity,
very high cost, very high opportunity cost
typically, all the way down to the most attenuated
thing, which is a distributed,
asynchronous interaction– all the possibilities around it. And essentially, what
we do in our lives is– say we have a certain amount
of interaction capacity– it’s expanding with
the new technologies. But we allocate our activities
among those different cells of the matrix, if you like,
depending on our personality, that particular situation. So we make various trade-offs,
and it’s a very complex kind of allocation decision,
I think, that we make, or set of allocation
decisions we make. And it’s changing. The way people do
this is changing. And teenagers probably
are different. I’ve observed this
with my teenager. Anyway, let me pass it on. There’s a question. SHEFFI: Oh, you want me
to read the question. Okay, it’s a question
directed to me. Let me read the question first. As an economics major at MIT,
I find the pricing solution elegant. As a person– which means
there’s a distinction there between MIT graduate
and a person– I am very put off by
the notion of everything being measured in price. I don’t want to
live in that way. This is the psychological cost–
underlined psychological cost– there is a psychological cost
to this kind of solution. Looking for other approaches. Well, it’s really a
question of outlook on life. It’s a question of–
it goes quite deep. In 1978, I was in
the United States. I came to the US in 1975. Some of you may have detected
this is not a North Boston accent. Came in ’75. ’78 we had
the embargo on gas lines from the Iran embargo. And I delivered a paper in the
Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington
DC– suggested that gas stations
would be allowed each to have two prices
at the pump– one, which will be government controlled
and another they’ll be able to charge
whatever they damn please. And let the users– those who
want to wait in line will wait, those who want to pay will pay. And this being in Washington,
I was tarred and feathered, and got there with a still alive
[INAUDIBLE], but just hardly. There is an element in
society, in Western society probably, that likes
the fact that we are all waiting in line together. We are all waiting
in line– regardless of how– I’m not putting it
down– regardless of how bad it is, but we are all
in it together. Rather than try to come up
with a more economically viable alternative and
saying, the rich are rich, and they are really not
like the rest of us. And this is just another
element of if they may be able to get through
an intersection faster– and it doesn’t have
to be rich, of course, as I mentioned before. It can be done in
any other unit. It does not have to
be monetary unit, but clearly whatever
unit we’ll be using, that they will develop
a market in this unit that will involve money as well. So it’s not a matter
of– the other solutions are staring us in the face
in every element of life, whether we want it
to do– when we’re talking about transportation,
we like the system that somebody allocates the preset green
light regardless of what the traffic is, or we want to be
able to do it more dynamically, and I realize that the
people may be willing to pay. And being able to extract it–
and I did not study economics– but it still seems to be a
total waste and, of course, dead weight loss in
terms of economics that there are people who
are willing to pay in terms of money, and we
extract the payment in terms of waiting time
or other inconvenience. And the reason that
it’s so wasteful is because money can be
put to great purposes. This whole thing can be
revenue neutral or money can be put in building shelters
or helping the homeless or solving a lot of
other of society’s ill. And this goes to
waste when people have to wait through waiting time. So I don’t know. I’m still hooked on my solution. That’s the answer. BROOKS: The question
here for me– why do you believe
that humans will always be better than machines at
designing other machines? I want to address
that in two ways. Patrick Winston– he teaches
the undergraduate artificial intelligence course here at MIT. And he always tells a story that
when he was young in Illinois, he had a raccoon that
was very dexterous. And no matter how he tried
to lock up the refrigerator so the raccoon
couldn’t get into it, the raccoon always managed to
break in and steal the food. And he said, but it
never occurred to him to ask himself the question
whether that raccoon was smart enough to build
a robot raccoon. So maybe someone comes
from Alpha Centauri and looks and says, oh, look
at those cute little humans. Look at them running around. Oh, that one thinks he can
build an artificial human. They’re not smart
enough to do that. So it may be
arrogance on our part to even think that we can
try to build machines that are as good as human
machines because we’re just below the threshold
where we can do that. So one approach to that
is to try and build artificial evolutionary
methods and have big, crunching
computers go through and do brute force guided search
through evolutionary techniques to evolve machines
that are smart. And there’s been
a lot of progress in that technique over
the last 10 years, especially as machines
have gotten larger. So indeed, in fact, some of
these evolutionary techniques can design circuits
that no human is capable of designing– much
better circuits than humans are capable of. So I don’t think that
people can design machines better than machines can. In fact, machines are crucial
to designing the next generation of machines. So then the question is,
well, would these smart robots be able to do things
quicker than us? But I think my point was that
we will incorporate the best parts of the machines into
ourselves, so we’ll just slightly keep ahead of them. Our species will change
and eventually the question will drift away
about who’s machine, who’s people ultimately
when we go down a few hundred years from now. PICARD: There’s two
questions on here which Rod and I will tackle together. The first is, it appropriate
that toys for children display human attributes? That is, is it psychologically
beneficial to the child? It’s a very large question. I have experience with
this in two areas. One is in the case of children
who have certain impairments with social emotional skills,
and there the psychologists now we are working with are
extremely excited about this. The kids already migrate
to the computers. Adult autistics who are
high functioning actually love sending email and
interacting on the Web. They say– and this should
be a warning sign to us– they say that it levels
the playing field for them to communicate via the internet. The toy effort– my former
student Jonathan Klein has been working with
Rod’s company, iRobot, and he mentioned the
Hasbro doll coming out. And there have been
other efforts like that. Rod mentioned one, the Furby,
and we’ve done one with Tigger and Microsoft’s got the Barney. And I understand that there’s
a lot of psychological interest in this, and people
like Sherry Turkle are studying the effects
of children putting their little Furbies to bed. Is this really
different than what they do with their Teddy
bear and their doll that doesn’t have all these things? The answer there to the
best of my knowledge is we still really don’t know. It’s sort of uncharted waters. And if you want to add to that? BROOKS: No, I think
I agree with you. PICARD: Yeah, okay. The second one
specifically asked if females were more
communicative with Kismet than males. And I’ll just mention that
in our work when we’ve looked at are people
nicer to the computer face to face, or do they
respond more to the emotionally savvy agent as a
function of their gender, we have actually found no
significant gender differences. We expected to find some,
but they weren’t there in the real data. However, it is known
that females as a whole are better than males as a
whole, statistically speaking, at recognizing the intended
communication of emotion. So if somebody intentionally
stands up here and communicates a bunch of basic
emotions, the women tend to score a bit
higher than the men at recognizing what they
intended to communicate. BROOKS: Explicitly with
Kismet, we haven’t tried to measure that in any way. You may have noticed,
and maybe this is why the question came,
that all the subjects who were trying to praised Kismet
or prohibit Kismet were women, it is true that getting
the affect out of voices is different for male
voices and female voices. The two students who
were doing this work both happened to
be women, so they decided to only train
the system with women because they actually had
to have two separate models, and they didn’t
want to build two. MITCHELL: The question
says, these discussions of telecommuting
and e-universities seem to neglect our
need for socialization which is provided for most
of us by work and school. Will people really settle
for life in a cocoon, however well equipped? Let me ask how
others would like to? Would you like to? Would you like me to? SHEFFI: Why don’t you start? MITCHELL: Why don’t I start? Okay. What I’d suggest here is
that the way you really need to think about
these things– and we really need
to shift the way one thinks about these things–
often things like telecommuting and any kind of
distributed thing thought of in terms of
individual-to-individual interactions. And in fact, there are many,
many more– and that’s useful. That’s very useful,
and one aspect that is certainly important. But there are many
other aspects. One of the things we
found most fruitful in distributed
education, for example, is connecting one social setting
to another social setting rather than connecting an
individual to individual. So you get a kind of richness
out of the interconnection of social settings. For example, I’ve
spent a lot of time over the last few years
teaching design studios in which students at MIT
physically in the design studio in a very
face-to-face design setting where there’s a lot
of social stuff going on, I can assure you,
link up electronically to design studios on the
other side of the world. We’ve done it with Japan,
Portugal, Australia– lots of different places. And the students
in these settings work jointly on design problems. And that turns out to
be an extraordinarily effective and useful thing to do
because what you’re able to do is essentially put
together the social capital and the social dynamic
of a couple of very different groups. It’s very interesting
issues start to arise related to some
of the other things we’ve been talking about. For example, if you put together
the two groups of designers to talk about an issue in
different parts of the world, you discover, because
of cultural differences, they frame the
issues differently, they interact with each
other in different ways, the discourse unfolds in
very, very different fashion. So for example, MIT
students working on a design problem
with each other are extraordinarily
aggressive verbally in the way they interact back and forth. They won’t say that’s
just a bad idea. They’ll say that’s the
stupidest idea I’ve ever heard in my life. And the discussion goes
in that kind of framework. Now, a group of
Japanese students doing the same kind of thing
interact in a very, very different kind of way, as
many of you will recognize. The cultural conventions
are that if you want to say no to something,
you say yes unenthusiastically as a way of communicating. And a lot more emphasis–
and these are cliches, but they’re roughly true– a
lot more emphasis on building consensus and so on. Now, if you’re adept culturally
in moving back and forth from one context to
another, you know how to adjust your
style of interaction depending on geographic context. So if you’re smart, you
don’t behave in Japan the same way that you
behave in the United States. However, when you create
an electronic space of interaction, which is neither
Japan nor the United States, or nor MIT specifically, and
you have to work together in that space, it’s nobody’s
particular territory, so it’s not immediately evident
whose cultural convention should prevail for
framing a question and working through a
set of interactions. It turns out to be educationally
extraordinarily fruitful because what the students have
to do is figure out on the fly and negotiate on the
fly among themselves and with each other how
they’re going to interact with each other, how they’re
going to deal with this, how they’re going to deal with the
cultural issues on so on, that foregrounds those issues
and teaches them something very, very important. BROOKS: Yeah, I agree
with what you said, but I wanted to take a
slightly different tack on it. I think this is an
issue that’s facing MIT. In Course 6 at
least, we’re starting to experiment with putting
lectures for our big courses on the Web. We still have recitations
with a faculty member, but why give the
same lecture which is not interactive every term
when you can just record it on the Web. Now, should we
make that material available to the
rest of the world? And if people in the
Philippines or somewhere come and go through all
the course material, have they had the
same experience getting an MIT degree that
way as they would coming here? And I think we’d
probably all agree, no, it’s important for
being here on campus and having those interactions
and learning to say, that’s the most
ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, Bill, because
that has given all of you some abilities to
go out and make really tough technical
decisions and be able to push technology along. But what is that component
that you get by being here? And what components can
you get without being here? And how do you still get
that component by being here? And I think there’s a lot
of questions for us at MIT to answer about how we want
to distribute our education and the role of campus itself. SHEFFI: One case
study about this– I also think that this
discussion has a lot to do with MIT, with the future
of the residential universities in general. I did my undergrad
degree in Israel, which is a very different experiment. There it’s a very
different experience. There’s a lot less
social interaction. People go to
classes, some of them literally even a few years
ago were doing it remotely. And the main reason is
that people go to Israel. In Israel, they go to college
after at least three years of service in the
armed forces which serves– it’s age
18 to 21– which serves the same function of
getting away from home, getting some social interaction norms
established, growing up. So when they get
to the university, they look at it simply
as knowledge acquisition rather than the whole experience
of going through a university. And we have the residential
university in the United States offers, of course,
both in one package. And it is not clear
that in the future many people will not opt
for getting the knowledge acquisition through
efficient Web-based mechanism and signing up for two-year camp
that may be MIT doing other– getting the social growing
and the social interaction, but somehow being able to
deliver those separately. MITCHELL: So you
never thought of MIT as the place to learn
social interaction, did you? So we’re running out of
time, so let me wrap up with just a comment that I
think may be an interesting way to summarize some things. If you look to
MIT’s future and ask where we’re placing our bets
about the future of education, the future of the
campus and so on, I think you can say we’re
diversifying our bets, and we’re trying to do
two things simultaneously, and expecting that they’re going
to work in a complimentary way. We’re doing some very
exciting research and some very
significant investment in educational technology in new
ways of teaching and learning, in new strategies for connecting
the physical setting of MIT to a wider world and enriching
that setting by distributing some of our
activities and so on. So that’s one direction. At exactly the same time,
we’re going into the largest construction program that MIT
has ever had in its history, and we’re intensifying the
physical campus in a way that I think is going to
be enormously exciting. Working very hard
on intensifying the social character,
the opportunities for interaction
and interconnection in a direct, face-to-face
way in the physical campus located right here in
Cambridge, Massachusetts. We have a new master
plan being done which is extraordinarily good. Some magnificent new buildings–
a building by Frank Gehry that will accommodate the lab
for artificial intelligence, the lab for computer science,
linguistics and philosophy, and a group of other
things. [INAUDIBLE] extraordinary building
done by Frank Gehry. Fumihiko Magi is doing a new
building for the Media Lab that this is all structured
around some really exciting ideas about how you
make working groups in face-to-face interaction
in very effective ways. Steve Hall– wonderful, really
avant-garde New York architect, is doing a new
undergraduate residence that we think is
going to be enormously exciting in
revitalizing the campus. We’re doing a new central
athletic facility. So I think we’re going to get
both in the immediate future. We’re going to get a very
intense, active, socially vibrant campus, and it’s
going to be wired to the world and able to do things
that we were never able to do in the past. So thank you. Lunch time.

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