MIT Course Spring 2020
2020 is shaping up to be a dramatic year both in the USA and the world stage. We'll be presenting solutions to our toughest problems that you simply won't hear from politicians or mainstream media, fundamentally because
they don't have any:-( .
Please come and add your ideas to the mix.
We (humanity) need all the help we can get!
ES.S40: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? [3, 6, or 9 units]
Indeed, why can’t we all just get along? Why do people fight with each other in situations where it makes absolutely no sense? Why do we still have war, poverty, and other social ills, despite the fact that no one wants these things? Are they inevitable? It is just human nature? Why do these problems remain so difficult, despite all the other advances society is making?
This “big think” course will ask fundamental questions about the nature of science, psychology, economics and politics, through the lens of understanding the tradeoff between competition and cooperation. We will study mathematical models of this tradeoff, like the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and connect with evolutionary theory. We will examine the psychology of motivation, and optimism vs. pessimism about the “human nature” debate.
The thesis is that technological change increases the value of cooperation and decreases the value of competition. This gives us an unprecedented opportunity to redesign our institutions so that they cooperate rather than compete with their constituents. The key advances of artificial intelligence and personal manufacturing (3D printers) will soon make it possible to end the material scarcity that prevents us from developing the culture of empathy, cooperation, and rationality that we need for the future. We will examine alternative designs (and welcome yours!) for the economy, government, education and justice systems. Come save the world with us!
For more information, see
Henry Lieberman is a Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His interests are in the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction, to make computers smarter and more helpful to people. Prior to that, he directed the Media Lab’s Software Agents group as Principal Research Scientist.
Christopher Fry moved to Boston in 1973 to attend Berklee College of Music (the MIT of Jazz). Realizing his musical skills needed augmentation, he moved across the river to MIT (The Berklee of Computers). He’s worked at BBN, IBM, MIT’s Experimental Music Studio, Sloan (business) School & Media Lab and a host of start-ups. He’s written languages for music composition (Computer Improvisation and Flavors Band), general purpose computing (Macintosh Common Lisp and Water) and decision support via reasoning (Justify). His latest language and development environment is to help makers describe processes for robots to make anything.
MIT, Harvard and Wellesley students welcome. Others please contact
- Take the "T" to Kendall Square.
- On Main Street, walk "outbound" towards Harvard Square (away from the river)
- Turn left onto Vassar St.
- Passed the crazy looking CSAIL building but before Mass. Ave. , turn left into the campus. (You can walk thru building 34.)
- The next building in is 24.
- Find the elevator at the end of the long hall on the ground floor and take it to 6.
- Turn right out of the elevator (the only way you can go), walk passed the big open area and look for a couple old white guys talking about fixing civilization.
Note: Interior doors at MIT are marked with their building number and room number. Outside door signs are less reliable.