We speak to MIT science writer Adam Conner-Simons and the MIT Press’s Terry Ehling about their collaborative efforts on a new publication from MIT CSAIL
MIT Open Publishing Services (MITops) is proud to support the launch of a new publication from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
In Computing the Future: A Decade of Innovation at MIT CSAIL, lab director Daniela Rus and MIT science writer Adam Conner-Simons lead readers on a journey in examining the multifaceted set of computing disciplines that the lab has impacted over the past decade, from artificial intelligence and machine learning, to computer vision and robotics, to quantum computing and virtual reality.
Computing the Future is available in open access and as a print book, exclusively for sale at the MIT Press Bookstore. On the occasion of the book’s launch, we spoke with coauthor Adam Conner-Simons and Terry Ehling, senior project manager of MITops, about the experience of working together.
Q: Can you tell us about Computing the Future?
Adam: Computing the Future is the culmination of nearly a decade of soaking in—and communicating about—a wide range of computer science research projects here at MIT.
Over the last 10 years, I have had the privilege of getting a first-hand view of all the ways that CSAIL has served as a key epicenter for computing innovation, during a time when the field has made massive strides both at a technical level and in terms of its direct real-world impact. Under Professor Rus’ leadership, CSAIL has always been firmly on the pulse of next-generation computing and contributed directly to major breakthroughs in areas such as machine learning, cryptography, performance engineering, and vision and graphics.
My book with Professor Rus goes through more than a dozen different disciplines to explore the past, present and future of research in these topics.
Q: CSAIL selected MITops as its publishing partner for this one-of-a-kind project. What inspired this collaboration?
Adam: We were looking for a partner who embodies the spirit of creating a better world through science and technology, and MIT Press is very much the epitome of that ethos. The book’s focus on innovation at MIT and its implications for both computing and society at large made this a perfect collaborative fit. And we are really excited that the MIT Press Bookstore is offering the opportunity for readers to get a better overview of what has been going on inside the walls of the lab.
Terry: We immediately saw this as a great opportunity to work with the CSAIL authors and comms staff on a unique publication project and to try something new for MITops. The MIT Press has had a long and fruitful relationship with CSAIL, MIT’s largest lab; we’ve published scores of authors from the AI Lab and the LCS since their founding in the early 1960s. We worked closely with the CSAIL leadership and staff to help them produce a truly beautiful and compelling book that documents CSAIL’s significant research innovations over the last decade.
For readers who may not be familiar with MITops, can you tell us a bit about the program?
Terry: Building on our long history of creating and successfully amplifying MIT’s academic strengths and core values through the Press’s entrepreneurial service offerings, we established MIT Open Publishing Services (MITops) in 2020.
MITops is a scholar-focused, MIT-branded hosting and publishing services operation built on the PubPub open source platform which was developed at MIT and is now maintained by Knowledge Futures, Inc. We provide a wide range of professional publishing services – from advising on production and editing processes to supporting the distribution of content in open access or in print, as in the case of the CSAIL project which will be exclusively on sale through the MIT Press Bookstore.
Adam: It has been great collaborating with Terry, Jessica Pellien, bookstore manager Rebecca Conn, and the rest of the team at MIT Press. They have been very easy to work with along every step of the process, and we’ve deeply appreciated their creativity, thoughtfulness and agility in navigating the many complexities of a project that involves a diversity of voices and players across the Institute.
CSAIL isn’t the only MIT project you’re working on, Terry. What other projects are in the MITops pipeline?
Terry: Forthcoming will be a new case study project, MIT Emerging Tech, from MIT’s Industrial Performance Center. And in the spring of ’24 we will be publishing a collection of early 50 impact papers that articulate effective roadmaps, policy recommendations, and calls for action across the broad domain of generative AI. MIT’s goal is to inform public discourse and the development and application of generative AI by disseminating these papers widely to industry leaders, other academic institutions, policymakers, and the public. Additionally, we continue to support our inaugural project—a case studies series from the cross-cutting program, Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing, based at the Schwarzman College of Computing.