MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXIV No. 3
January / February 2012
A Contrarian View of MITx:
What Are We Doing!?
Freshman Advising and MITx
MITx: MIT's Vision for Online Learning
First Generation Project Launched
A Message from the First Generation Project Student Executive Board
We Gotta Have HOPE
FPC Subcommittee to Review IAP
Glass at MIT: Beauty and Utility
Memorial Service for Bob Silbey
Teaching this spring? You should know . . .
Under-Represented Minority Faculty and Students: 1987–2012
A Women as Percentage of Total Undergraduates, Graduate Students,
and Faculty: 1901–2012
Printable Version

We Gotta Have HOPE

Alexander Slocum

January 12, 2012

Dear FNL Readers:

Reading the Vol. XXIV No. 2 Faculty Newsletter catalyzed me to try to see if I could bring together different viewpoints that flowed from its pages into a more coherent vision for MIT’s future. To start, I thought what are the Functional Requirements (FRs) of MIT? I started to create a list that coalesced into one simple FR that, if met, might take care of everything:

  • Take in people with great minds, mix them with other great people and resources to help them realize their full personal and societal potential.

Next I thought what Design Parameters (DPs) are required to meet the functional requirements? Once again my ADHD++ operating system went wild; once again order was brought to chaos in my mind and for MIT with a single simple parameter:

  • Manus

And what are the scientific, engineering, and humanistic aspects associated with the manus?

  • The hands are filled with nerve endings that are connected to the brain, and the structure of the hand not only enables manipulation of objects, but also sensory input that helps to wire neurons to enable synthesis of ideas. The manus enables the mind and the mind enables the manus: It is humanity’s demon/savior.

What is the history behind all this?

  • Mens et manus is the Cor of humanity. It is what has allowed humans to become everything they are and can be: the good, the bad, the barren, and the bountiful. People invented tools and built shelters which protected them from the harsh environment, and then within the shelters their minds and hands worked in concert to create a symphony of ideas and products. The coalescence of these shelters into cities hastened the process. MIT was one of those shelters (for geeks!) and as the buildings multiplied, history repeated itself on a small yet grand scale.

What are the risks/countermeasures?

History teaches us that every great civilization rises and falls. Thermodynamics takes no prisoners. Nature doesn’t give a dam(n) (except maybe for beavers!). There is an approaching asteroid that will soon come online and wipe out the dinosaurs: The cost of MIT will soon become so great as we add ever more nifty physical resources we risk pricing ourselves out of existence. Great people launch great companies and send thank you checks, and companies license intellectual property….

What’s next? I propose we shoot for infinity and beyond: We must ask not what MIT can do for geeks, but what geeks can do for MIT! We must use our minds to address the real last question, “How can we use chaos to achieve order?” I propose:

We the people of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Order to form a more perfect world, establish truth, enable personal development, provide for the common defense of our world, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to all, do ordain and establish this vision for the future. That we here highly resolve that others shall not have created in vain, that this Institute under us all shall have a new birth of creativity, and that leadership of the geeks, by the geeks, for all people shall always have online HOPE:

For Mens

Hands On Professional Education

For Manus

Hands On Physical Education

For Cor

Hands On Personal Education

We all claim to see the future coming, we all cry out Gimme Shelter, if we don't get some shelter, we are going to fade away, unless we come together to make rainbow stew underneath a sky of blue. The most important shelter we can build is one where all geeks of all types can come together to ask and answer questions by creating and building stuff. A shelter where our random vibrations enable us to bump into each other to catalyze further creativity by serendipity, until eventually the last question is asked and answered (and really great stuff gets made). Only then will we truly see the light. Chaos is the key to unlocking

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