A guided tour of the new MIT Museum End-shutdown

LIGO prototype

Developed by Professor Emeritus Rainer Weiss ’55, PhD ’62, and his students, this 1970s prototype led to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a large-scale physics experiment that was finally able to detect the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The work earned Weiss the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.

“The experiments that LIGO was able to facilitate seem magical to me, since I am not a physicist,” says Nuñez. “Can you imagine what it was like to be there when they found out it worked? What an amazing moment for humanity!”


One of the first social robots designed to simulate social interactions, Kismet was created in the 1990s by Cynthia Breazeal, SM ’93, ScD ’00, who is now dean of digital learning at MIT and director of the Personal Robot Research Group. at the MIT Media Lab. . Originally controlled by 15 different computers, Kismet employed 21 motors to create facial expressions and body postures.

“I have a lot of affinity with that particular artifact,” says Nuñez, who studied with Breazeal at the Media Lab. “It’s such a charismatic object; it’s one of the museum’s Instagram moments.”


Developed by Julie Shah ’04, SM ’06, PhD ’11, IRGO is an interactive robot that museum visitors can help train through artificial intelligence demonstrations. “Our visitors are participating in real robotic research,” says Núñez. “That’s such a rare and special opportunity.”

Shah is currently the HN Slater Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and director of the Interactive Robotics Group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He shares his thoughts on the AI ​​in a nearby audio gallery. Other alumni featured in that gallery include Professor Rosalind Picard, SM ’86, ScD ’91, Director of Media Lab’s Affective Computing Research Group, and Media Lab PhD students Matt Groh, SM ’19 and Pat Pataranutaporn, SM ’20.

“We want to be able to expose the fact that there are communities of people behind everything you’re seeing,” Núñez says.

coded gaze

Visitors to the AI ​​gallery can see the mask used by Joy Buolamwini, SM ’17, PhD ’22, to present a white face, rather than her own black face, to facial recognition software, which she found to be less accurate. for the people. with dark skin In her doctoral thesis, Buolamwini coined the term “coded gaze” to describe algorithmic bias.

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