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MIT Receives 20 Million To Research Autism


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced on Thursday a new center for autism research, launching with $20 million in initial funding courtesy of Broadcom (brcm) chief executive officer and MIT alum Hock Tan and former investment banker Lisa Yang.

The Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research, which will fall under the rubric of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, will investigate “the genetic, biological, and neural bases of autism spectrum disorder,” according to MIT. An estimated one of 68 children (and one in 42 boys) in the U.S. are affected by autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.The Institute draws researchers not only from MIT ranks but from Harvard, biotech companies, and other local institutions, she said. “There’s a collaborative spirit and a lot of cross-pollination with the medical schools. It is not territorial.”

The benefactors, who are parents of two children on the autism spectrum, hope their donation will ignite more support and research for more understanding of the disorder and alleviate its impact on those affected, according to MIT’s statement.


Social Influence Bias Experiement

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 According to new research, other people’s opinions online affect the way you think about something. Findings published from a study led by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, MIT, and NYU, tests show that group mentality online does sway individual opinion and action. 

The experiment involved a website  where users submit articles, can comment on those articles and vote comments up or down. The site requested to remain nameless in order to allow the experiment.

During the test, researchers randomly voted positively, negatively or not at all on comments in more than 100,000 posts. Each comment received a calculated rating by subtracting the negative votes from the positive votes. According to the research, popular opinion tended to become a self-fulfilling, 

Sinan Aral is a lead researcher in the study says  “people will go along with positive opinions but are more skeptical of the negative opinions of others.” Several media outlets reporting on this study speculated on the affect of reviews and ratings on sites like TripAdvisor, Amazon and Yelp – reviews that help people make buying decisions every day, even when some of them could be fabricated or perhaps even subconsciously biased. 

Recently, Yelp tackled the issue of fake reviews in a blog post, assuring readers it has processes in place for identifying those fictional biases that could occur.

But what happens when the popular opinion is purely fabricated by groupthink? According to this study, popular opinion is purely fabricated by groupthink. In business, groupthink can be attributed to bad decisions that aren’t grounded in reason. In society, groupthink ( a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people) can evolve into something ugly with detrimental consequences. 

Preventing Groupthink

  1. Leaders should assign each member the role of “critical evaluator”. This allows each member to freely air objections and doubts.
  2. Leaders should not express an opinion when assigning a task to a group.
  3. Leaders should absent themselves from many of the group meetings to avoid excessively influencing the outcome.
  4. The organization should set up several independent groups, working on the same problem.
  5. All effective alternatives should be examined.
  6. Each member should discuss the group’s ideas with trusted people outside of the group.
  7. The group should invite outside experts into meetings. Group members should be allowed to discuss with and question the outside experts.
  8. At least one group member should be assigned the role of Devil’s advocate. This should be a different person for each meeting.





MIT graduate Chris Benson, along with co-founders from the Singapore University of Technology and Design created a solution to the problem of digging through your bag for a transport card.

The “Sesame Ring” is a 3D-printed piece of wearable technology embedded with an RFID chip that makes it easy to access MBTA train stations.


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