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The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives [Kindle Edition]

Frank Moss
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $11.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

If you've ever read a book on an e-reader, unleashed your inner rock star playing Guitar Hero, built a robot with LEGO Mindstorms, or ridden in a vehicle with child-safe air bags, then you've experienced first hand just a few of the astounding innovations that have come out of the Media Lab over the past 25 years. But that’s old hat for today’s researchers, who are creating technologies that will have a much deeper impact on the quality of people’s lives over the next quarter century. 
In this exhilarating tour of the Media Lab's inner sanctums, we'll meet the professors and their students - the Sorcerers and their Apprentices - and witness first hand the creative magic behind inventions such as:
* Nexi, a mobile humanoid robot with such sophisticated social skills she can serve as a helpful and understanding companion for the sick and elderly.
* CityCar, a foldable, stackable, electric vehicle of the future that will redefine personal transportation in cities and revolutionize urban life.
* Sixth Sense, a compact wearable device that transforms any surface – wall, tabletop or even your hand - into a touch screen computer.
* PowerFoot, a lifelike robotic prosthesis that enables amputees to walk as naturally as if it were a real biological limb.
Through inspiring stories of people who are using Media Lab innovations to confront personal challenges - like a man with cerebral palsy who is unable to hum a tune or pick up an instrument yet is using an ingenious music composition system to unleash his “inner Mozart”, and a woman with a rare life-threatening condition who co-invented a revolutionary web service that enables patients to participate in the search for their own cures - we’ll see how the Media Lab is empowering us all with the tools to take control of our health, wealth, and happiness. 
Along the way, Moss reveals the highly unorthodox approach to creativity and invention that makes all this possible, explaining how the Media Lab cultivates an open and boundary-less environment where researchers from a broad array of disciplines – from musicians to neuroscientists to visual artists to computer engineers - have the freedom to follow their passions and take bold risks unthinkable elsewhere.
The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices can serve as a blueprint for how to fix our broken innovation ecosystem and bring about the kind of radical change required to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  It is a must-read for anyone striving to be more innovative as an individual, as a businessperson, or as a member of society. 

Also includes 16 pages of color photos highlighting some of the lab's most visually stunning inventions - and the people who make them possible.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


"Out of the creative chaos at the MIT Media Lab have come fantastical inventions that have changed how we work, play, and live. Frank Moss’ stories of the ‘digital magicians’ behind these experiments and discoveries are inspiring and engaging."
—Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google 

"MIT Media Lab has been inventing the future for more than 25 years.  Frank Moss explains how - and the lessons can help you be more creative -  and your organization be more innovative." 
 - Steve Case, Co-founder of AOL, Chairman of the Startup America Partnership, and co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
"This book will be a delight for anyone who cares about innovation. For more than twenty-five years, the MIT Media Lab has been inventing the future and humanizing technology. Weaving fascinating tales with insightful concepts, Frank Moss tells us how. He shows the way to harness passion and break down the walls between disciplines in order to unleash creativity in fields ranging from robotics to music to the making of mechanical limbs."
—Walter Isaacson, CEO and president, The Aspen Institute, former chairman and CEO of CNN, and bestselling author of Einstein: His Life and Universe
"Anyone who wants to succeed - be it in technology art, or business - needs to follow the unique multi-disciplinary approach described in this book. Our future depends on innovation. This book provides the inspiration and motivation we need to change the world, one page at a time."
—Chad Hurley, Co-Founder & former CEO, YouTube.
"As a CIO, I understand the challenges of managing brilliant and creative people.   Frank Moss' insightful case studies from the Media Lab provide a roadmap for leaders who want to accelerate innovation.   There is no better example of a culture that inspires and enables invention."

About the Author

FRANK MOSS served as director of the MIT Media Lab from 2006-2011, and is currently Professor of the Practice and head of the New Media Medicine group there. After earning a BSE from Princeton and PhD in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, he held positions at IBM, Apollo Computer, Lotus Development and was CEO and chairman of Tivoli Systems, which he took public in 1995 and merged with IBM a year later. He is a co-founder of many companies, including Stellar Computer, Bowstreet, Infinity Pharmaceuticals and his latest startup venture, Bluefin Labs.

Product Details

  • File Size: 11210 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (June 7, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4WK2E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,060 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Future is Being Created at MIT Media Lab June 12, 2011
In The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices, David Moss offers a first hand tour of the legendary MIT Media Lab, a place where remarkable innovations occur almost continuously. The book is a bit of a jumble rather than a single coherent narrative, but that is appropriate since the Media Lab is all about bringing brilliant people from different disciplines together and letting ideas collide randomly in a "boundary-less" environment.

Moss, who served as the Media Lab's director starting in 2006, focuses on the researchers in the Lab and how they collaborate on a variety of projects, ranging from new ways to interact with computers, technologies to assist the disabled and the elderly, new forms of transportation and ,especially, robotics.

On thing that really comes through is the Media Labs leading-edge research into artificial intelligence and robotics. The social robots under development are able to interact and learn from people, and can even respond to specific human attitudes and emotions based on facial expressions and other hints. Moss is extremely bullish about the future of robotics, writing that he expects "truly capable robots that can be sold at prices on the order of notebook computers," and that by the end of this decade there may be "more than a billion robots" deployed world-wide.

While Moss talks about robots and AI being primarily deployed in the the home or in health care settings, there is little doubt that these technologies are going to have a huge impact in workplaces, on the job market and on the overall economy and society. Very few people seem to be tuned into the coming wave of innovation. The technologies under development at the Media Lab have the potential to be truly transformative, and the impact will be felt by all of us.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I have to wonder why this book was written; who for? September 28, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have spent upwards of a month slogging through this book, a book which by all rights ought to be an immensely enjoyable read for me as it hits on a number of passionate interests of mine, was not. In his preface Moss comments that this is the third book on the media lab, the first 2 having been written by Stwert Brand and Nicholas Negroponte. I strongly suspect I would have enjoyed those more, and may eventually pick one or both of them up). I am less familiar with Moss than I am with either of the other men, having read many of Brand's works and followed Negroponte's activities for a while impressed by his vision and compassion. Moss I know mostly from the introduction to this book. That, however, was not what put me off. I felt like a good deal of time was spent pumping himself, the school, the lab, and finally the book, It is clear that Moss is excited to be at the media lab (despite early quandries), its approach and the success of its students and graduates. To some extent that comes with the territory. They are among the brightest and hardest working, most highly selected students in the country. They would likely be successful wherever they went. Put those students in an environment with others of similar talent and passion, and things will happen. While I was an undergraduate at Brown, the NY Times wrote an article disparaging the education received at Ivy league schools (focusing on Harvard in particular). It made sufficient impression that my dad drove up to spend a day attending classes with me (else I likely would not have noticed the article). I recall a response someone sent in saying that he learned more in the hallway than he had anywhere else in his life. Exactly. Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dr. Frank Moss, the Director of MIT's Media Lab between 2006 and 2011 presents a remarkable, yet human view of one of the nation's treasure laboratories.
The Media Lab is a Special Projects Laboratory and Educational Division within the MIT School of Architecture and Planning that focuses on Technology, Design and New Media. It's amazing projects and demonstrations have resulted in such products as E-Ink (the paper-like display which make E-Readers like the Kindle
readable), the One Laptop per Child XO laptop, and the Guitar Hero gaming platform.

Frank Moss describes and humanizes the research and demonstration process of this remarkable academic laboratory where the motto is "Demo or Die" rather
than "Publish or Perish". He describes the technologies, designs and human problems which continue to lead their innovation. Most importantly he profiles in human depth the talented Professors, Graduate Students, Researchers and Corporate Partners who make this innovation possible. A remarkable book about a remarkable place.

--Ira Laefsky
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Team Is Improving Everybody's Life June 22, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book really could be accurately described using the old cliché "Stranger than fiction". It reminds me of several other books that I have read along the same line (e.g. The Cuckoo's Egg and Nerds, A Brief History of the Internet).

There are a number of stories in this book about the amazing developments wrought by the assorted members of the MIT Media Lab. They are not all engineers as one might think, but an amazing cross section of talents and education backgrounds. Together these people have developed a number of things that has and probably will continue to make life much better for many in the population. Their work in the area of helping disabled people to follow their dreams even though their disabilities would normally have denied them that opportunity is amazing.

The stories of the developments of these inventors is so varied, I can only suggest that you read this wonderful book. It is about a team of very driven, enthusiastic and imaginative individuals who give their diverse talents to the team effort to invent products and processes that possibly would not happen in a non-team environment.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars false promises
The book itself is one of the good examples how one should write popular books on technology- it is full of stories and personalities some of whom I know personally. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Albert Yefimov
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring
The stories of the people at the Media lab who work to make their dreams happen on the edges of discovery can push us all to do more, to imagine a better world and to connect in... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Gary McNay
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Look Into MIT Media Labs
Ever since its inception in the mid-1980s, MIT Media Labs has produced some of our most revolutionary and breakthrough inventions, including "Scratch," which has introduced... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Jiang Xueqin
5.0 out of 5 stars this should be read by all innovation groups
I did my informatics training in Boston in the 1990s and I was fortunate to spend time on the MIT campus. This book reinforces my impression of this amazing organization. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Todd Rowland
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid exploration of the MIT Media Lab
Frank Moss takes us on a tour of the amazing MIT Media Lab by telling a dozen stories about different projects happening there under his tenure. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
A great book! It tels some incredible storys in such an easy way to understand. I recommend it! For sure!
Published 22 months ago by Eloy Henrique Saraiva de Oliveira
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting peek inside MIT's Media Lab
This book gives us an interesting look at the MIT Media Lab, which works in collaboration at times with corporate sponsors. Read more
Published on April 10, 2013 by Naomi Manygoats
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly light reading
It is a fascinating story, and a lot of interesting stuff happened. Unfortunately, it was a long and difficult book to read. Read more
Published on April 7, 2013 by Orion
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight into the magic generated at MIT's Media Lab
This is an excellent companion to Stewart Brand's The Media Lab book first published in 1987. About 25 years later, Frank Moss takes the reader on a tour of MIT's Media Lab,... Read more
Published on March 20, 2013 by Mark Torpey
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and well written
As a scientist and writer on human performance, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. For those interested in the field of robotics, human augmentation, and everything in... Read more
Published on December 14, 2012 by Jennifer Gresham
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More About the Author

Frank Moss had a childhood dream to be a part of America's space program. But by the time he graduated from MIT with a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1976, funding for the space program had been dramatically slashed. So he went to work in the computer industry instead, as a researcher at IBM. But he soon left to try his hand in the world of high tech startups. After three companies he found success as CEO of Tivoli Systems, which he took public in 1995 and merged with IBM a year later. After making sure the merger was a success, he went back to starting high tech companies, but this time he realized that he was looking for something much different: he wanted to make a bigger contribution to humanity. This led him to co-found the cancer drug discovery company Infinity Pharmaceuticals in 2001 and then to the directorship of the MIT Media Lab from 2006 to 2011. While there he wrote his first book, "The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices", about the lab's highly unorthodox approach to innovation. He is now back, once again, to the world of entrepreneurship as co-founder of Bluefin Labs, Inc.


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