Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 14th, 2015

White House Demo Day? Obama invites MIT entrepreneurs

Adam Conner-Simons | CSAIL
August 6, 2015

It’s rare that anyone, including even an MIT computer scientist, is extended an invitation to the Oval Office.

Even rarer: the opportunity to fall on your face in front of the “Leader of the Free World.”

To be clear, this particular fall in question was intentional.

On Tuesday, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) were part of a select group of entrepreneurs that gave President Obama an in-person demo about their innovation — a device that uses radio waves to detect, predict, and prevent falls among the elderly.

The live-streamed visit was part of the White House’s first annual Demo Day, which is aimed at fostering greater diversity in technology entrepreneurship.

Professor Dina Katabi and CSAIL graduate students Fadel Adib and Zachary Kabelac presented “Emerald,” a system that can monitor breathing, heart rate, and changes in gait and body elevation with such precision that it may soon be able to predict declines in health and increased risk of falling.

Katabi says that every year 2.5 million elderly Americans are treated in emergency rooms because of falls, costing over $34 billion annually.

A more traditional way to try to solve this problem is with wearable technology, but most older people don’t want to have to always wear a special watch or pendant.

Instead, Emerald uses one in-home sensor and data analytics to track a person’s movements from the radio waves that reflect off their body, without requiring the monitored person to wear any sensor on their body

If a fall is detected, the device immediately contacts the individual’s caregiver and, after a period of three minutes, calls an ambulance.

Similar to a Wi-Fi router, Emerald works even if the person is in a different room than the device.

Emerald was named a finalist of MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition in May.

The technology is based on the CSAIL researchers’ work on “WiTrack,” which uses wireless signals to detect movement and vital signs.

The team was one of only 8 groups selected from across the country to present their innovations directly to President Obama, who described the visiting technologists as “heirs to Lewis and Clark and Jonas Salk.”

“I’m surprised that you got a sensor that is that sensitive from that distance to be reliable enough to get meaningful data,” Obama said to the CSAIL team, after calling the device “pretty cool” and “fantastic.”

Katabi says that she’s hopeful that the device can help “empower the elderly to live safely and independently,” and is also eager to see whether it may have other key applications in personal health, baby monitors, and even search-and-rescue.

More generally, she says the Demo Day itself made apparent how important it is to promote diversity in the world of innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Such a small percentage of start-up founders are women and people of color,” says Katabi.

“It was refreshing to see that the government is interested in creating more opportunities for under-represented groups.”

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily shared this link

At the first-ever White House Demo Day, Obama met with MIT Professor Dina Katabi (Syrian) and PhD student Fadel Adib (Lebanese) who founded “Emerald” a device to prevent falls among the elderly. Bravo!

Wireless motion-tracking device from Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab researchers is among highlighted innovations at “Demo Day.”

ECOBOARD technology: Get angry when you decide to Act

On the management side:

1- If you get angry enough about something the only course of action is to “do” something about it.

If you can’t do something about it there is no point in getting angry, it will only add to your stress.

2- In times of crisis, the number one killer is inertia.

Whoever coined the term “do or die” must have been operating in constant crisis mode.

3- No matter how big the task, have the courage to take the first step and the discipline to keep at it one step after the other.

Once you have taken your tenth step you will realize this is not as daunting as you imagined and it’s rather pleasant to be surmounting the obstacles.

4- Planning ahead is key, seeing forward can and will save you lots of time, money and energy.

5- A problem will not take care of itself; you will have to take care of it sooner or later.

Whoever came to the conclusion “the sooner the better” couldn’t have been more right.

As we let the garbage linger in our streets and lands the price tag of cleaning it up gets higher and higher.

On the technical side:

1- On the morning of August 4th 2015 upon setting foot on the site there were 337 cubic meters of garbage scattered on the road side of the parking lot by Khoury Home in Zouk Mosbeh.

2- We brought 6 pieces of equipment on-site: A sorting conveyor belt, a rotary Composting Machine, An Hydraulic baler/compactor, A shredder, A power generator, and a pickup truck equipped with a crane.

3- It took 14 hours of work to process 285 cubic meters of unsorted garbage.

If these were sorted at source (home) just using the 2 bag system (black for organics, blue for recyclables) we could have gone through the 337 cubic meters in about 12 hours of work.

4- The number one hindrance in recycling solid waste is the mixing of food waste (organics) with the recyclable materials. It is time consuming and food contamination of recyclables brings down their market value.

5- Due to our ECOBOARD technology which recycles ALL plastics and inert materials, we completely recycled the 285 cubic meters of waste available.

6- The effort was completely financed by Cedar Environmental with nothing charged to the municipality of Zouk Mosbeh.

Although what was visible were 2 days of work on-site, but it took one day prior of the setting up to prepare and load the machines and another day after the dismantling of the site to relocate and re-assign the machines to their original operating site.

7- Mobile is not necessarily cost efficient. We need to setup fixed recycling plants all over the country so this crisis never happens again

See More

Ziad Abi Chaker's photo.
Ziad Abi Chaker's photo.
Ziad Abi Chaker's photo.
Ziad Abi Chaker's photo.
Ziad Abi Chaker's photo.

How could parenthood be worse than divorce, unemployment, or the death of a partner?

Life has its ups and downs, but parenthood is supposed to be among the most joyous. At least that’s what the movies and Target ads tell us.

In reality, it turns out that having a child can have a pretty strong negative impact on a person’s happiness, according to a new study published in the journal Demography.

In fact, on average, the effect of a new baby on a person’s life is devastatingly bad — worse than divorce, worse than unemployment and worse even than the death of a partner.

Researchers Rachel Margolis and Mikko Myrskylä followed 2,016 Germans who were childless at the time the study began until at least two years after the birth of their first child.

Respondents were asked to rate their happiness from 0 (completely dissatisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied) in response to the question, “How satisfied are you with your life, all things considered?”

“Although this measure does not capture respondents’ overall experience of having a child, it is preferable to direct questions about childbearing because it is considered taboo for new parents to say negative things about a new child,” they wrote.

The study’s goal was to try to gain insights into a longstanding contradiction in fertility in many developed countries between how many children people say they want and how many they actually have.

In Germany, most couples say in surveys that they want two children. Yet the birthrate in the country has remained stubbornly low ( 1.5 children per woman  for 40 years).

Margolis, a sociology researcher at the University of Western Ontario, and Myrskylä, director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, found that most couples in their study started out pretty happy when they set out to have their first child.

In the year prior to the birth, their life satisfaction ticked up even more, perhaps due to the pregnancy and anticipation of the baby.

[How parents create narcissistic children]

It was only after birth that the parents’ experiences diverged.

About 30 percent remained at about the same state of happiness or better once they had the baby, according to self-reported measures of well-being.

The rest said their happiness decreased during the first and second year after the birth.

Of those new mothers and fathers whose happiness went down, 37 percent (742) reported a one-unit drop, 19 percent (383) a two-unit drop and 17 percent (341) a three-unit drop.

On average, new parenthood led to a 1.4 unit drop in happiness. That’s considered very severe.

To put things in perspective, previous studies have quantified the impact of other major life events on the same happiness scale in this way: divorce, the equivalent of a 0.6 “happiness unit” drop; unemployment, a one-unit drop; and the death of a partner a one-unit drop.

The consequence of the negative experiences was that many of the parents stopped having children after their first.

The data showed the larger the loss in well-being, the lower the likelihood of a second baby.

The effect was especially strong in mothers and fathers who are older than age 30 and with higher education.

Surprisingly, gender was not a factor.

“Fertility is a choice for most people in the developed world … [I]f the transition to parenthood is very difficult or more difficult than expected, then people may choose to remain at parity,” the researchers wrote.

Margolis and Myrskyla wrote that challenges of new parents that impacted their decision to have another fell into three categories.

  1.  The first two had to do with health. Mothers reported physical pain and nausea conflicted with their desire to work. Fathers expressed concern about the medical issues of their partner.
  2.  Second, complications during the birth also appeared to shape their decision to not “go through it again.”
  3. The third category was the most significant and was about “the continuous and intense nature of childrearing.” Parents reported exhaustion due to trouble breast-feeding, sleep deprivation, depression, domestic isolation and relationship breakdown.

The findings are likely to be eye-opening for some policymakers who are concerned about low fertility rates in their countries and suggest that governments should consider giving additional support to new parents.

Patsy Z shared this link
Dave Lim shared a link.
A new study shows that the happiness of a first-time parent falls after the baby arrives. That may be why so many don’t end up having a second.




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