Joichi Ito's Research Statement

Research statement submitted to MIT for Joichi Ito's Professor of the Practice in Media Arts and Sciences promotion case in March 2016.

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Director, MIT Media Lab

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PubPub Community Manager
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Discussion by Sean Maw
Sean Maw
A thought provoking research statement, but have we not learned that it is folly to believe that we can "design" nature? Is it not better (in virtually every way) to design things and processes to work with nature, rather than to naively try to control nature. In a similar vein, more important than the design of AI is the question of whether we should design AI, is it not? As James Intriligator notes here in this comments section, "design thinking is just GOOD thinking". It just isn't good thinking to believe we know all and control all. It's even worse to not care that we don't, and to roll the dice with designs that may have far-reaching catastrophic consequences.
Discussion by James Intriligator
James Intriligator and Dale Percival
Interesting piece with some very nice ideas. One issue I would like to raise is around the whole concept (brand?) of "Design Thinking". I have always contended that "design thinking is just GOOD thinking". For example, when asked to design a new product (eg dishwasher), or service (eg banking system), or experience (eg hospital admissions) it seems pretty obvious that one should involve end-users. So, "user-centered" or "design-thinking" approaches could, perhaps, best be seen as rigorous and systematic/synthetic approaches based on a deeper understanding/appreciation of relevant data/issues/perspectives. With that (long ramble) as background, I guess I would question your statement (near the very end): "structured reason is not enough".... I believe that flexible and creative/expansive structured reason IS enough. Of course, it has to be careful not to succumb to the strict boundaries and sometimes narrow thinking/tools of uni-disciplinary approaches and conventional wisdom. But, it's all about the structured reason baby! With that and a little dash of creativity, metaphor, innovation, and communication you are set to succeed. 😃
Isn't part of the focus of design thinking to work in the white space between the black spots of specific disciplines? The end-users, in this case don't necessarily exist yet.