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EdX President Anant Agarwal’s Plan to Change the World

Note: this interview was broadcast by the WGBH affiliate WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station.

You’ve heard the news. Online education is the next big, disruptive thing. It’s taking on the establishment, and the hidebound, bricks and mortar institutions of higher learning must change – or shrink.

EdX, Coursera, Udacity and the like are the future – promising us a better educated and better employed nation of newly empowered citizens.

Or –  they’re the tool that leads to the firing of second rate, redundant professors across the land, to the retreat of non-virtual classrooms, those sacrosanct spaces where real students interact with real professors.

Or perhaps they’re both? These cultural and marketplace issues will work themselves out over time. But if we look farther ahead, what will be the political impact of “free education for all,” across the globe? (Albeit for those with a high speed internet connection!)

Anant Agarwal

ThoughtCast spoke with Anant Agarwal, formerly the Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and currently the very first President of edX, in their spanking new offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An entrepreneur and an intellectual, Anant is perhaps also a visionary.

Will his visions for edX come true? Take a listen, and judge for yourself!

Click here:   (12 minutes).

Also, for extra credit –
What does the “X” in edX stand for?
Click here: (1 minute).

Posted on July 8, 2013 in Ideas, Internet, MIT, Public Media
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Simon Johnson Takes on Banks Deemed “Too Big to Fail”

Note: This interview was broadcast on WGBH radio, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture, on April 17, 2011!

Simon Johnson, the Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, is an outspoken critic of the US government response to the financial crisis. Now he takes on the “too big to fail” banks which continue to threaten our economy.  In his latest book, called 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, which he co-wrote with James Kwak, Simon argues that if the biggest banks aren’t cut down to size, it’s only a matter of time before we face another financial crisis. And once again, the government – aka the taxpayers – will be obliged to step in and bail out these behemoths…
In Simon’s words, if they’re too big to fail — they’re too big to exist!
Simon Johnson is also a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.  And he’s the co-author, again with James Kwak, of the influential economics blog The Baseline Scenario. Simon spoke with ThoughtCast at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Posted on May 6, 2010 in Economics, MIT, Politics
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The Dopamine Economy

Note: this story was picked up by WAMC, Northeast Public Radio, and also broadcast on the WGBH affiliate WCAI/WNAN, on the Cape and Islands!

dopamine brain
dopamine brain
Wall Street on Drugs: What motivated these former masters of the universe? And why did they act like kindergartners? ThoughtCast’s Jenny Attiyeh speaks with James Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics at MIT, and Jonah Lehrer, the author of “Proust Was a Neuroscientist” and “How We Decide”, as well as the writer and public intellectual Jim Holt and the Harvard economist Alberto Alesina.
Here’s another question — don’t the continental Europeans like dopamine as much as we do? And — where do we get our fix now??

Click here to listen (3:24 minutes.)

Posted on April 7, 2009 in Economics, MIT, Psychology
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Architects Nader Tehrani and Robert Campbell @ CCAE

Nader Tehrani
Nader Tehrani

The Cambridge Center for Adult Education recently hosted a talk with the architect Nader Tehrani (an associate professor of architecture at  MIT, and the co-founder of the influential Boston-based architecture and design firm Office dA) whose work is on view, among other locations, at the Museum of Modern Art

Click here to listen (36 minutes).

Robert Campbell

– and Robert Campbell, the architect and Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic for the Boston Globe (who also happens to be a poet and photographer). The subject of their talk: progressive architecture.

Posted on March 20, 2009 in MIT
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The Economic Pits with James Poterba

Note: this interview was broadcast on the WGBH public radio affiliate WCAI, on the Cape and Islands!

James Poterba

What is the right expression to describe today’s economic nightmare? I’m sick of “mess” and “crisis” is too bland. What about “cesspool”? Well, I compromised with “pits” — feel free to add your own juicy descriptions in ThoughtCast’s comments section!
Either way, I dived into the “pool” with MIT’s Mitsui Professor of Economics James Poterba, who’s also the head of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the think tank in charge of determining when recessions start … and end. Wouldn’t that be nice? Headlines proclaiming the “end” of this rather inordinate business cycle.
Are these ups and downs indeed just a part of capitalism’s inevitable booms and busts? Ought we to accept them as natural, rather than resist them? Or ought we to scrap the “system” and rebuild? You tell me…
But first, listen to this: (15:30 minutes).

Posted on February 23, 2009 in Economics, MIT, Politics, Psychology
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Griefer, Google Cooking and other Neologisms

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Neologisms

Note: This piece was broadcast on Word of Mouth on New Hampshire Public Radio and on WCVE in Richmond VA.

been there - done that
Today’s online world is in overdrive. Think of it as a novelty factory – spewing out new ideas, products, and neologisms – new words, or phrases. Take the word blog, for example, or broadband. These are now old-hat neologisms even my mother would recognize. But neologisms can also be existing words that acquire new meaning, like the term spam. Or the word friend – that’s now a verb! People friend each other on social networking sites like Facebook all the time!
So what better place to look for neologisms than at a conference devoted to the “Future of the Internet”, held by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
Click here: to listen to Esther Dyson, Jimmy Wales, Tim Wu and Judith Donath (4 minutes). Or check out this 1 minute video with MIT Media Lab assoc. professor and Harvard fellow Judith Donath

Posted on July 19, 2008 in Harvard Luminaries, Ideas, MIT, Public Media, Words@Work
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Art & Science with Alan Lightman

Note: This program was broadcast on WCAI, the Cape and Islands affiliate of WGBH.

Alan Lightman
Alan Lightman, the MIT physicist and best-selling author of Einstein’s Dreams, is a man of unusual ability. Talented in both the sciences and the arts, he’s both left- and right-brained, a condition that confers challenges as well as benefits.
Lightman has recently come out with a new book which explores these two realms – and it’s called Ghost! It deals with the permeable boundary between hard science and the paranormal — and asks, where does science fail us, and what, if anything, can take its place? Does mystery take over? And can it step in where science falls short?
Click here: to listen (28:30 minutes) on ThoughtCast!

And to listen Alan Lightman on WGBH’s Forum Network, click here — and here!

Posted on August 1, 2007 in Literature, MIT, Science
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Henry Jenkins@Beyond Broadcast 2007

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Beyond Broadcast
Henry Jenkins

Henry Jenkins, director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program, talks with ThoughtCast about the path from “participatory culture” to “participatory democracy.” He was the keynote speaker for this year’s Beyond Broadcast conference, held at MIT. He’s also an author, blogger and pop culture fan.
Click here: to listen to the interview (8:12 minutes)


And now, for extra credit, to listen to Jenkins’ thoughts on the “moral economy”… (5:12 minutes) CLICK HERE!

To listen to a discussion with Henry Jenkins on “The Economics of Open Content” on the WGBH Forum Network, click here.

And there’s more….

  • WNYC’s Bill Swersey on “open source”
  • Beyond Broadcast — the state of mind
Posted on March 7, 2007 in MIT
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