For more than 50 years, CSAIL—the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory—has pioneered new approaches to computing that improve how people work, play, and learn. Now we stand on the verge of an exciting new era ready to make great new contributions.
I can picture a world—not too far off—where it’s as easy to program a robot to deliver groceries or take a driverless car for a spin as it is to use a smartphone today. A personal machine tutor will help every child learn. Access to individualized treatment will revolutionize healthcare. And our smart cities will be free of traffic jams. CSAIL researchers imagine and build the future by developing fundamental new technologies and conducting basic research that furthers the field of computing and its applications. At CSAIL, we’ve always had big dreams. We developed the first time-shared computers, the first computer algebra engine, the first mobile robots, and the first computer vision systems. If you have connected your laptop with Ethernet, read email, or shopped securely online, you’ve benefited from the work of our researchers. We developed the fundamentals of today’s computing infrastructure, from our work on programming languages like CLU and LISP to inventions in cryptography such as RSA and zero-knowledge protocols. Today, we we’re working on hundreds of projects, ranging from the theoretical foundations of computing to applications such as diagnosing, monitoring, and treating disease. We’re building robots for everyday life; rethinking our worldwide information infrastructure to respect privacy and resist attacks; using computation to give us superhero capabilities like “vision magnification”; and much more. CSAIL is a vibrant community of inventive problem solvers. We have 1000 members, including 500 graduate students and postdocs and 122 faculty representing 11 academic departments. Our members’ distinctions include 9 Turing awards and 7 MacArthur fellowships. We nurture the careers of all our members—students, faculty, and staff—emphasizing service, collegiality, mentorship, and self-improvement. At CSAIL, no question is too crazy, no future too far off. We take pride in imagining the impossible and then looking for ways to make it possible. As we begin the next 50 years of our work, I look forward to a future in which computing empowers people and enhances all our human experiences. I invite you to join us: as a collaborator, a supporter, or a future member!
Serving as president of the Class of 2021 enhanced Kofi Blake’s appreciation for diversity: “People will come to the table and they have so much to offer,” says the aerospace engineering (opens in new window) and physics (opens in new window) major, a four-year resident of MIT’s Chocolate City (opens in new window).