Envisioning the future of computing | MIT News

How will advances in computing rework human society?

MIT college students contemplated this impending query as a part of the Envisioning the Way forward for Computing Prize — an essay contest wherein they had been challenged to think about ways in which computing applied sciences might enhance our lives, in addition to the pitfalls and risks related to them.

Provided for the primary time this 12 months, the Institute-wide competitors invited MIT undergraduate and graduate college students to share their concepts, aspirations, and imaginative and prescient for what they suppose a future propelled by developments in computing holds. Practically 60 college students put pen to paper, together with these majoring in arithmetic, philosophy, electrical engineering and laptop science, mind and cognitive sciences, chemical engineering, city research and planning, and administration, and entered their submissions.

College students dreamed up extremely creative eventualities for the way the applied sciences of right this moment and tomorrow might influence society, for higher or worse. Some recurring themes emerged, reminiscent of tackling points in local weather change and well being care. Others proposed concepts for specific applied sciences that ranged from digital twins as a instrument for navigating the deluge of knowledge on-line to a cutting-edge platform powered by synthetic intelligence, machine studying, and biosensors to create customized storytelling movies that assist people perceive themselves and others.

Conceived of by the Social and Moral Duties of Computing (SERC), a cross-cutting initiative of the MIT Schwarzman School of Computing in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), the intent of the competitors was “to create an area for college students to suppose in a inventive, knowledgeable, and rigorous means in regards to the societal advantages and prices of the applied sciences they’re or will likely be growing,” says Caspar Hare, professor of philosophy, co-associate dean of SERC, and the lead organizer of the Envisioning the Way forward for Computing Prize. “We additionally needed to convey that MIT values such pondering.”

Prize winners

The competition applied a two-stage analysis course of whereby all essays had been reviewed anonymously by a panel of MIT school members from the faculty and SHASS for the preliminary spherical. Three qualifiers had been then invited to current their entries at an awards ceremony on Might 8, adopted by a Q&A with a judging panel and dwell in-person viewers for the ultimate spherical.

The successful entry was awarded to Robert Cunningham ’23, a current graduate in math and physics, for his paper on the implications of a personalised language mannequin that’s fine-tuned to foretell a person’s writing based mostly on their previous texts and emails. Advised from the angle of three fictional characters: Laura, founding father of the tech startup ScribeAI, and Margaret and Vincent, a pair in school who’re frequent customers of the platform, readers gained insights into the societal shifts that happen and the unexpected repercussions of the expertise.

Cunningham, who took house the grand prize of $10,000, says he got here up with the idea for his essay in late January whereas excited about the upcoming launch of GPT-4 and the way it is perhaps utilized. Created by the builders of ChatGPT — an AI chatbot that has managed to seize standard creativeness for its capability to mimic human-like textual content, photographs, audio, and code — GPT-4, which was unveiled in March, is the most recent model of OpenAI’s language mannequin techniques.

“GPT-4 is wild in actuality, however some rumors earlier than it launched had been even wilder, and I had a number of lengthy aircraft rides to take into consideration them! I loved this chance to solidify a obscure notion into an article, and since a few of my favourite works of science fiction are quick tales, I figured I might take the possibility to jot down one,” Cunningham says.

The opposite two finalists, awarded $5,000 every, included Gabrielle Kaili-Might Liu, a senior majoring in arithmetic with laptop science, and mind and cognitive sciences, for her entry on utilizing the reinforcement studying with human suggestions method as a instrument for reworking human interactions with AI; and Abigail Thwaites and Eliot Matthew Watkins, graduate college students within the Division of Philosophy and Linguistics, for his or her joint submission on automated reality checkers, an AI-driven software program that they argue might doubtlessly assist mitigate the unfold of misinformation and be a profound social good.

“We had been so excited to see the superb response to this contest. It made clear how a lot college students at MIT, opposite to stereotype, actually care in regards to the wider implications of expertise, says Daniel Jackson, professor of laptop science and one of many final-round judges. “So most of the essays had been extremely considerate and inventive. Robert’s story was a chilling, however solely believable tackle our AI future; Abigail and Eliot’s evaluation introduced new readability to what harms misinformation truly causes; and Gabrielle’s piece gave a lucid overview of a distinguished new expertise. I hope we’ll be capable to run this contest yearly, and that it’ll encourage all our college students to broaden their views even additional.”

Fellow decide Graham Jones, professor of anthropology, provides: “The successful entries mirrored the unimaginable breadth of our college students’ engagement with socially accountable computing. They problem us to suppose otherwise about easy methods to design computational applied sciences, conceptualize social impacts, and picture future eventualities. Working with a cross-disciplinary panel of judges catalyzed a lot of new conversations. As a sci-fi fan, I used to be thrilled that the highest prize went to a such a surprising piece of speculative fiction!”

Different judges on the panel for the ultimate spherical included:

  • Dan Huttenlocher, dean of the MIT Schwarzman School of Computing;
  • Aleksander Madry, Cadence Design Methods Professor of Pc Science;
  • Asu Ozdaglar, deputy dean of teachers for the MIT Schwarzman School of Computing and head of the Division of Electrical Engineering and Pc Science;
  • Georgia Perakis, co-associate dean of SERC and the William F. Kilos Professor of Administration; and
  • Agustin Rayo, dean of the MIT Faculty of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Honorable mentions

Along with the grand prize winner and runners up, 12 college students had been acknowledged with honorable mentions for his or her entries, with every receiving $500.

The honorees and the title of their essays embody:

  • Alexa Reese Canaan, Expertise and Coverage Program, “A New Approach Ahead: The Web & Information Economic system”;
  • Fernanda De La Torre Romo, Division of Mind and Cognitive Sciences, “The Empathic Revolution Utilizing AI to Foster Larger Understanding and Connection”;
  • Samuel Florin, Division of Arithmetic, “Modeling Worldwide Options for the Local weather Disaster”;
  • Claire Gorman, Division of City Research and Planning (DUSP), “Grounding AI — Envisioning Inclusive Computing for Soil Carbon Functions”;
  • Kevin Hansom, MIT Sloan Faculty of Administration, “Quantum Powered Personalised Pharmacogenetic Growth and Distribution Mannequin”;
  • Sharon Jiang, Division of Electrical Engineering and Pc Science (EECS), “Machine Studying Pushed Transformation of Digital Well being Information”;
  • Cassandra Lee, Media Lab, “Contemplating an Anti-convenience Funding Physique”;
  • Martin Nisser, EECS, “In direction of Personalised On-Demand Manufacturing”;
  • Andi Qu, EECS, “Revolutionizing On-line Studying with Digital Twins”;
  • David Bradford Ramsay, Media Lab, “The Perils and Guarantees of Closed Loop Engagement”;
  • Shuvom Sadhuka, EECS, “Overcoming the False Commerce-off in Genomics: Privateness and Collaboration”; and
  • Leonard Schrage, DUSP, “Embodied-Carbon-Computing.”

The Envisioning the Way forward for Computing Prize was supported by MAC3 Impression Philanthropies.

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