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2024 Spring Course (2/8 – 5/9)

Samantha Chan, Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT Media Lab
Nathan Whitmore, Research Scientist, MIT Media Lab
Pattie Maes, Professor of Media, Arts and Sciences

Units: 2-0-7
Time: Thursday 1PM-3PM
Place: E15-341

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Note: Prior application and approval of instructors required

Computers and smartphones are generally considered to be tools that enhance productivity. However, an emerging class of technologies aims to not just help us access information, but to optimize how our brains operate. This class will explore how future digital and biological technology may help us with issues such as attention, sleep, motivation, behavior change, memory, and emotional regulation. We will read relevant literature from Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Human-Computer Interaction to inform the design of systems that can strengthen these “soft skills”. We will explore how mobile sensors, machine learning, and stimulation systems can intervene in real time to support users and enhance cognition. We will discuss ethical and social issues that come up in designing such highly personal and intimate enhancement systems, such as avoiding dependence and guaranteeing privacy and control. Students will be asked to read and comment on 1-2 papers every week, make occasional presentations in class, come up with novel design concepts and finally, develop and implement one larger scale project (in small groups). Students will have access to novel devices and platforms developed in the Fluid Interfaces research group to base their projects on. The class will be limited to 16 highly motivated, qualified students.

Candidates should fill out this form to be considered. Priority will be given to people taking the class in person, for credit.

Grading: 30% final project, 20% class participation, 50% weekly assignments (incl. mini-design exercises, readings and reflection, creative idea sketches)