About the Lab
Mission & History

Andy Ryan

In a world where radical advances in technology are taken for granted, Media Lab researchers design technologies for people to create a better future.

The Media Lab came into being in 1980 through the efforts of Professor Nicholas Negroponte and former MIT President and Science Advisor to President John F. Kennedy, Jerome Wiesner. The Lab grew out of the work of MIT's Architecture Machine Group, and remains within MIT's School of Architecture + Planning.

The Media Lab opened the doors to its I.M. Pei-designed Wiesner Building in 1985, and in its first decade was at the vanguard of the technology that enabled the digital revolution and enhanced human expression: innovative research ranging from cognition and learning, to electronic music, to holography. In its second decade, the Lab literally took computing out of the box, embedding the bits of the digital realm with the atoms of our physical world. This led to expanded research in wearable computing, wireless “viral” communications, machines with common sense, new forms of artistic expression, and innovative approaches to how children learn.

Now, in its fourth decade, the Media Lab continues to check traditional disciplines at the door. Product designers, nanotechnologists, data-visualization experts, industry researchers, and pioneers of computer interfaces work side by side to invent—and reinvent—how humans experience, and can be aided by, technology.

Learn more about the Media Lab

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"},{"image":{"url":"https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/uuid/613932c3-9a8a-493e-82ec-5d926c0c436e"},"title":"defiance-freedomu2.JPG","caption":"

Betina Kaplan and Lorgia García-Peña, two of the co-founders of Freedom University Georgia, accepted a Disobedience Award honorable mention prize of $10,000.

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James Hansen received an honorable mention for his pioneering work on climate change.

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Phyllis Young and LaDonna Brave Bull Allard of the Water Protectors of Standing Rock receive an honorable mention at the first MIT Media Lab Disobedience awards, July 2017.

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one of the Disobedience Awards presented to the winners and finalists

"},{"image":{"url":"https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/uuid/ad64272d-bea0-41ab-be39-9a72ec181554"},"title":"defiance-winners-panel.JPG","caption":"

(l-r) LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Media Lab Director Joi Ito joined Disobedience Award finalists Phyllis Young and LaDonna Brave Bull Allard; Betina Kaplan and Lorgia García-Peña; and James Hansen; along with winners Marc Edwards and Mona Hanna-Attisha.

"},{"image":{"url":"https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/uuid/fe2ce142-b662-4896-9eaa-af8d4b97cc23"},"title":"defiance-phyllis-ladonna.jpg","caption":"

There were so many deserving nominations that we decided to recognize the Disobedience Award finalists as well, including (l-r) Phyllis Young and LaDonna Brave Bull Allard who represented the Water Protectors of Standing Rock. 

"},{"image":{"url":"https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/uuid/848eb6f0-7557-4139-acec-072fad6270e3"},"title":"DSP20914.jpg","caption":"

One of the Disobedience Awards spheres, created by Neri Oxman for Defiance.

"},{"image":{"url":"https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/uuid/9700a24c-76df-47cf-9bbf-76da53e8591e"},"title":"defiance-yazan-mural-process.JPG","caption":"

Yazan Halwani, painting his mural for Defiance in the days before the event.

"},{"image":{"url":"https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/uuid/64231968-f1a3-482c-9cf9-9b2519b9fba8"},"title":"defiance-religion panel.JPG","caption":"

 A discussion about the tensions between science and faith, with (l-r) Dominican priest Eric Salobir and MIT's VP for research Maria Zuber, moderated by Berkman Klein Center co-founder Jonathan Zittrain.

"},{"image":{"url":"https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/uuid/64082bca-de2e-4e0a-addf-060f854bc3b9"},"title":"defiance-reid-joi.JPG","caption":"

MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

"},{"image":{"url":"https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/uuid/41adf21e-4748-4336-a905-8cc60be70b95"},"title":"defiance-winners-panel.JPG","caption":"

MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

"},{"image":{"url":"https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/uuid/d60be2a9-0279-44ca-ae87-880755188409"},"title":"defiance-winners-panel2.JPG","caption":"

MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

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MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

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MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

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MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

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MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

"},{"image":{"url":"https://dam-prod.media.mit.edu/uuid/369b8fb4-957d-4cbb-939c-55163d949a26"},"title":"defiance-father-eric.JPG","caption":"

MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

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Adam Foss speaks at the MIT Media Lab's Defiance event, July 21, 2017 in Cambridge, MA

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MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

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MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

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James Hansen holds his Disobedience finalist award

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MIT Media Lab Defiance event, July 21, 2017, Cambridge MA

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Ethan Zuckerman (Director of the MIT Center for Civic Media) and Joi Ito (Director of the MIT Media Lab) welcome attendees to the Media Lab's Defiance event, July 21, 2017, in Cambridge Massachusetts

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MIT Media Lab Defiance Event, July 21, 2017

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MIT Media Lab Defiance Event, July 21, 2017

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MIT Media Lab Defiance Event, July 21, 2017

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