My short bio: I'm Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab. I helped started a bunch of Internet companies in Japan including the first commercial ISP. I’ve been CEO of Creative Commons, an investor in a bunch of startups including Twitter, Flickr, Kickstarter, littleBits and Formlabs, was a DJ at the Smart Bar and the LimeLight in Chicago in the 80s, I never completed college (dropped out twice) and I’m one of Timothy Leary’s godchildren.

At the Media Lab I'm interested in "antidisciplinary" research, drawing from design, software, electronics, art, biology, and economics to approach big problems. Our professors and students conduct research on everything from digital currencies, to synthetic biology, to human augmentation. Along those lines, I'm co-chairing the Solid conference, which focuses on the intersection between physical and virtual.

My Proof: For you old school people:

As an added bonus O'Reilly is offering a discount to the Solid Conference on June 23rd-25th in San Francisco. Use discount code REDDIT for 20% off. You can see other O'Reilly IoT materials, reports, and conversations at

Here I am! I’m starting to answer questions now. This is a new reddit handle; the only questions I won’t answer are what my usual handle is and what subreddits I read :)

Thanks everyone for the great questions. Sorry I couldn’t get to them all! I'll check back later in case there are any other interesting questions, but I'm signing off for now.

Comments: 141 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

SundoshiNakatoto22 karma

How do you explain the importance of bitcoin and the bitcoin blockchain, especially after most people only hear of its negative side?

joi_ito17 karma

I'll answer more later if I have time, but here's a blog post I wrote about some of the reasons:

sirkent3 karma

without some sort of buy-in by regulators, it's unlikely to scale or have the mainstream impact that the Internet did.

Maybe I'm understanding "buy-in" wrong, but this statement seems to contradict to following points.

I believe it's possible that over-regulation could cause Bitcoin or the blockchain to never achieve its full potential and remain a feature of the side-economy

What helped make the Internet successful was the lack of regulation and the generally inclusive and permissionless nature of innovation.

What exactly do you mean by "buy-in by regulators" and why do you think it's required when Bitcoin was designed for circumvent regulation?

joi_ito3 karma

I think the key is that the regulators shouldn't be running the show and should take a supporting stance. If you look at ICANN, for example, there is a "Government Advisory Committee" (GAC) as one of the groups that advise the board, but the board is independent and the government doesn't control ICANN, but is part of the conversation that informs ICANN and through that process, the governments voice their concerns, but in the end, generally feel like they were part of a consensus process and allow ICANN to make the rules.

I'm not sure that we need an ICANN for Bitcoin, but I think that what WOULD be good is some sort of way for all of the governments to voice their concerns and then become comfortable with how the community interprets their concerns. What would be bad is if each state and government came up with lots of regulations that contradicted each other or were slightly different so that every Bitcoin company or idea had to get permission in each state and country and had to be slightly different in each region.

scotty3211 karma

Bitcoin is already highly regulated, and has been from Day One. Bitcoin was regulated by the unbreakable rules of math, the unbreakable security of cryptography, the unbreakable predictability of a timed inflation & deflation schedule, and the unbreakability transparency of open source code. It was designed to provide trust over a trustless network. So why do you think we need government to regulate? Their regulations have always served to benefit the entrenched oligarchy establishment only, but never the individuals.

joi_ito3 karma

We don't need government to regulate. They just will. As you say, the core code doesn't need government approval and I'm sure many of the developers don't really care too much about what the government thinks. However, if we want Bitcoin to be widely adopted by people around the world, we need to make governments comfortable so that they don't over regulate. Otherwise, it will become a sort of underground thing that is useful for only those people savvy or intent enough to use it... sort of like Tor Project. Although I still hope Tor or something like that becomes mainstream some day.

bubbasparse11 karma

What are your thoughts on the bitcoin max blocksize limit? How can consensus be reached when many of the core devs strongly disagree? Do you see this as a major hurdle for bitcoin?

joi_ito9 karma

If Bitcoin should use an increase in block size to increase the number of transactions per second is an important debate. More importantly, how this decision is made will be a good example of how the community of developers, entrepreneurs, miners, and users will continue to collaborate on major changes to bitcoin core. Over the last few months there has been a rich discussion through blog posts and open email chains. The MIT Media Lab Digital Currency Initiative is happy to host an open forum where a discussion can take place in person and online with the goal of coming to a satisfactory conclusion by the participants. While it might take some trial and error to figure out exactly how this could work, we're happy to support the community in this way if they think it would be helpful to come to a conclusion on this topic and use this model as an example for future discussions.

Onetallnerd2 karma

Thoughts on the Lightning network? Thoughts on privacy in bitcoin?

joi_ito1 karma

1) On privacy: Bitcoin isn’t private. Financial privacy is really important. In the US, many think of privacy as a means for terrorists to hide, but in countries with governments that do not have an open society it is a powerful tool for the citizens to be able to protect their ability to dissent and have freedoms that we take for granted. I’m excited about the potential for technology like ZeroCash to revolutionize this space. The tricky part of any global protocol or network is that anything we do in one country ripples across the world and has unintended consequences. The key is balancing the needs of people in a huge variety of environments.

2) On Lightning: It’s a great idea. I’ve been thinking of Bitcoin as a layer on the internet stack, like TCP/IP. Protocols like lightning are like HTTP, making it easier and more accessible for the world.

finway1 karma

Sounds political ;)

joi_ito2 karma

It sort of is. :-)

pipo09811 karma

Hi, thank you for doing this AMA. I have had the chance to work with you in the past, and I have a simple question that stems from my fascination at how you are one of the rare people who seems to have been able to keep your "children's curiosity/sincerity" while still being able to negotiate depressing and convoluted politics. How do you do it? How did you keep your innocence, your sense of wonder, and your trust that we can work to make the world better, while still having had so much experience dealing with uncooperative people, and the general crass of human behavior? I ask because I want to learn from you.

joi_ito17 karma

Funny. Some just asked me this over lunch. This is actually a really long question but also a short one. My main focus in life is surrounding myself in interesting and fun people and curating my environment to be maximally fun. It's sort of a self-selecting process that sometimes requires pivoting out of jobs like working in Hollywood where I didn't find a high percentage of people who fit my particular tastes. I find that as I get older, I have a better intuition of where to find people I like and how to create environments that attract people that I like and empower people in my environment to be as "childlike" and fun as possible. The Media Lab, it turns out, is the best place I've ever found for this. I don't have solid goals or a plan - I'm very happy in the moment and it seems like I get happier every day. I'm also lucky to be surrounded by people who are good at all of the things I suck at... Maybe more later on this if I have time.

pipo0982 karma

Hi Joi, thank you for your answer. I find what you wrote very helpful and insightful and given that I am a young professional, I will try to do the same with mine. If you have any time, could you provide some practical examples of how you do it please? For example, how do you choose who to work with? How do you choose your environment, and how do you hone your intuition about people? What do you look for? Are you sometimes wrong? I know this is hard and long question, and I appreciate that you already answered some. If you prefer to recommend a book/people to learn from etc, that would be great too. :) Thank you again for this AMA.

joi_ito2 karma

It was mostly trial and error. One early learning was that my happiness had more to do with the people than with the topic or type of work. I think this may be different for different personality types - some people can focus on the work and not the people, but I think this is generally true. I also did many kinds of jobs in parallel so I could try things. I also quickly moved on if I didn't think it was working. This may not always be the best thing to do - for instance, this is what caused me to drop out of school - maybe not the best decision.

I think you have to tune it to your personality type and your values. I was self-motivated, curious, loved to interact with people, sort of ADD, and didn't really fear risk or failure so this worked for me. May work for some people, but not others.

For instance, my sister got straight A's, did great in school, got 2 PhDs, and seems perfectly happy and successful and didn't have the weird bumpy right that I had - she has a different personality type and did what worked for her I think.

nicks7071 karma

Hello Joi, I am an international student. I have been part of MIT GSL program in the past and I love working on interdisciplinary applications of computer science to different fields. This is the reason I applied to Media labs last year. I even got an interview with the professor of my preferred group. But I got rejected as there were only two slots available. I am more into developing new interesting hobby projects, but I don't have any research papers. I believe I will publish a patent before publishing a paper I am that much into developing new ideas to reality. I am currently working on some great VR based projects and I think you will really like them. I plan to apply again this year with more awesome new projects under my belt as Media labs is one masters program I find very apt for my interest. I would like to know what kind o projects (level and innovation) you look for in your prospective students. If you could point me out to some projects or If you are working on something and require volunteer developers. It will be immensely helpful thanks in advance.

joi_ito1 karma

First of all, thanks for your interest in our program. Many of our best students have applied many times before they get in because of the way our admissions process works so I'm glad you're going to try again.

The specific kind of projects that the admitting faculty member is interesting depends quite a bit on the group and sometimes also on what the other students are doing in the group at the time. Each of the group compositions are very different. Some are more like a team working on a single big project and other groups are more like a ecosystem with a lot of variety. You should try to engage the faculty member and if possible the students in the group somehow.

kinoshitajona8 karma

Wednesday, I held a hackathon/how-to-bitcoin-tutorial with over 30 web developers in Tokyo, and it was definitely 大盛況でした。

I have taken it on as a personal goal in my interactions with Japanese companies to further the technical knowledge required to be literate in cryptocurrency here in Japan. However, I have been met with most of my colleagues at my day job/other people (dev job) brushing it off as another 円天 scam by some anonymous person.

Do you have any insight into how Japanese engineers reacted to the internet back in the early 90's, and what advice to you have for me in my goal to foster a strong developer community in Tokyo?

joi_ito10 karma

This is slightly over-stated, but Europe tried not to do the Internet. Japan said that they weren't doing the Internet, but Jun Murai and others did it anyway. In the US people were encouraged to do the Internet. I think that in Japan, there is a bigger gap between the established top-down way that technology is developed and the super-savvy grassroots engineers. In a way, this is the "tatemae" "honne" problem. I think it will always be this way. I think the key is to at some level, ignore the authorities and just work initially with the people - a sub-culture - who know don't give a shit about the what they're "supposed to be doing".

marvinm77 karma

In the course of your career, what has been your greatest setback or stumbling block?

joi_ito9 karma

I think that every major setback that I've had has made me stronger so in many ways - like a healthy immune system - without the challenges, I wouldn't have growth would be who I am. So first off, I don't see setbacks or stumbling blocks (as long ask they don't kill you) as negative things.

Probably the thing that set me back the most was when my mother died of cancer and it turned out that we had spent all of our money + a couple of hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical bills. I ended up spending the next few years living in a pretty shitty place working for a pretty shitty guy digging myself out of the hole. At some level that built character, but I think it also provided me with the energy to get off my ass and do real work and start a real business so I didn't have to work for people I didn't like.

pmgomez1 karma

Hi there! Thanks once again for this AMA. In relation to the question above, what would you consider your biggest failure and how did you learn from this? Much thanks.

joi_ito2 karma

My biggest failure was probably the incubator that I built in 2000 in Japan called Neoteny. We were backed by some VCs who thought that a big full service incubator would be more successful than a fund so we built a big facility, hired a bunch of people (40+), raised a bunch of money and started investing in and incubating companies. A lot of this was driven by the VC and the market at the time where many incubators were going public at valuations that were many times the value of their portfolios. Soon this model fell out of favor of the market, the model didn't actually work that well, the VCs pushed us to shut down and I had to fire everyone and wind the company down, pay the remaining cash back to our investors and set up a skeleton team to manage the portfolio of investments.

We did some good things like invest in Six Apart that developed Movable Type which didn't end up being a great investment financially, but did help bring blogging to the world.

Although I view it as a massive failure on my part, almost all of my investors are still friends and many of them have continued to invest in my companies and my funds, in part because I think we were always honest and tried to make the right decisions for the employees as well as the shareholders.

The best thing is that all of the people who worked in the company - even though we had to unwind it - are still very friendly with each other and me. We are actually having a big reunion next month. I still work with many of them and keep in touch with all of them. We all believe it was a tough, but important learning experienced.

I think everyone learned many different things from the experience, but I learned 1) there can be many "challenges" when working with VCs so choose them wisely and be careful of how much you let them drive the strategy, 2) beware of business models that may be market fads, 3) stay lean, 4) still not sure whether the "full service incubator" model works since most strong entrepreneurs don't need all of those services, but I see many incubators that appear to be successful so I may be wrong about this "learning" or the world may have changed.

dadabit6 karma

Mr Ito, I am in love with all the things MIT media lab is doing. Do you think this could be created somewhere else? What makes it special that this beautiful things happens on that location in that lab ? what is the sauce ? If another location where would it be ?

joi_ito8 karma

I think one of the secrets to the Media Lab compared to other multi/anti/inter-disciplinary labs is that we actually have our own degree program called Media Arts and Sciences. Many similar labs bring people from different disciplines/departments together, but they all sort of bounce back to disciplines when they have to complete their degrees. However, we actually can give you a PhD in the department of None of the Above™

delapatriot6 karma

If privacy is not included in IoT, do you ever fear that disruptive technology may actually harm society?

joi_ito9 karma

Yes yes yes! I think that security and privacy for IoT is super-important because even more than software, it's hard to fix later. I think that there is a substantial risk of building a network that's pretty screwed up that will in some ways, harm society.

tkyob6 karma

What is the greatest technological achievement that you have seen unfold in real life?

joi_ito7 karma

I'm an Internet guy so the Internet is sport of the answer to everything for me... but I don't think it's one single technology that I think is most amazing, but the whole trend that the Internet, Moore's Law and now rapid prototyping, manufacturing and diminish costs of bioengineering that is causing a massive diminishing cost of innovation and experimentation that allows us to be antidisciplinary and allows us to do things without raising (much) money. This reduces the politics, the permission and the time it takes to try things which is causing an explosion of new things and a democratization of new things. A few examples:

bee25026 karma

Hi Mr.Ito, thanks for doing an AMA ! You said that you are an investor in a bunch of startups. I would like to know what are the qualities you look for(deciding factors) in startups before investing ?

Also can you describe in a few words about how your outlook/major decisions of your life were influenced by Mr. Leary ?

joi_ito8 karma

There are many investment strategies so mine is just one of them, but I invest 1 - when I like the entrepreneur(s), when I use and love the product and even if there is a lot of risk, the "home run" is world-changing.

My favorite quote ever comes from Timothy Leary - "Question authority and think for yourself."

FinickyFizz5 karma

What do you mean by "anti disciplinary"? Is that just a cool way of saying interdisciplinary?

joi_ito9 karma

No. Interdisciplinary is when the chemist and the biologist talk to each other. Antidisciplinary is when you are between or beyond the disciplines.

When I think about the "space" that we've created, I like to think about a huge piece of paper that represents "all science." The disciplines are little black dots on this paper. The massive amounts of white space between the dots represent antidisciplinary space. Many people would like to play in this white space, but there is very little funding for this, and it's even harder to get a tenured positions without some sort of disciplinary anchor in one of the black dots.

And this is important because the lines between hardware, software, biology - they're blurring and almost everything interesting is actually antidisciplinary.

See my blog post:

dawggeee2 karma

With respect to standard English definitions, you are describing the word interdisciplinary.

Typically, this involves more than one person (eg. chemist and biologist) but as long as the work pertains to more than one branch of knowledge - we call it interdisciplinary.

joi_ito1 karma

Yes, you're right. I would still say that we are more "antidisciplinary" than "interdisciplinary" in that although we do connect branches of knowledge, I think my premise is that there is knowledge that is missing from the traditional "branches" of the disciplines and we are actually trying to find the "gaps" or the areas not traditionally covered by disciplines well. Also, while we have many teams that involve more than one person, we try to have at least 2 orthogonal domains in each single person. The "inter" in "interdisciplinary" seems to focus too much on connecting between things rather than being the between itself.

I realize these are maybe minor differences, but it sets a tone that is fairly different.

notchopra5 karma

Hi Mr. Ito, thanks for doing this AMA! Long time fan of the Media Lab here. I'm curious about your thoughts on the role - current and future - of the Lab in international development and addressing social issues globally, etc. I know there have been several projects that have come out of the Lab that have been specifically for resource-poor areas, but would you ever consider having a research group dedicated specifically to that type of research? (If you do, I would happily join!)

joi_ito2 karma

We have discussed this and are discussing it. I think that there is a general "development" thread across many of the groups at the Lab, but if we could find a particularly unique approach to global development, I think that would be interesting too. I think there is a role for the Lab in this space, but the key is to do something that is important but uniquely Media Lab - something that only we could do.

powerscunner5 karma

MIT has a reputation for the extraordinary: What would you say is the most "unusual" or "surprising" research project or invention you've seen at the lab?

joi_ito6 karma

There are so many, I don't know where to start, but here's one of the most beautiful ones:

The wonderful thing about Neri's work is that it pushes the four quadrants of science/art/engineering/design in a very elegant way. See my blog post inspired by Rich Gold:

tony_gee5 karma

Is the Internet of Things really going to be as revolutionary as it is being sold as?

joi_ito8 karma

Internet of Things is a big deal, but rather as a symptom of a general trend of moving innovation to the edges, to the entrepreneurs, to the developing world - to a much more democratic system, hopefully less monopolized by big companies. This is the observation behind Solid.

sisterbliss5 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA, Joi!

I was thrilled to hear that MIT is stepping up to support Bitcoin, a fantastic project with the potential to bring much good to the world. So thank you for trying to help make that happen.

Having worked on related Bitcoin projects, I am all too aware that we need more developers working on the code to enable Bitcoin to reach its potential. With this in mind what plans do MIT have to bring many more developers with great ideas into the Bitcoin fold?

joi_ito4 karma

We're working with professors, grad and undergrad students to get more people hacking on bitcoin throughout the university as part of coursework and research.

sisterbliss2 karma

That sounds great, pleased to hear it!

I also believe similar Bitcoin research and hacking needs to take place in other institutions, nationally and internationally. Is this something MIT could take the lead on? I'm thinking an academic journal, networking, conferences...there are a lot of unexplored avenues that Bitcoin needs pushing down.

joi_ito1 karma

Absolutely needs to be international. We've been pushing from the very beginning to make this an international network and we are working hard to try to get other institutions on board. I think that if this is stuck at MIT or in the US it will both politically and practically suck.

We have lots of ideas of "avenues" but would love your input as well!

victoria_jam4 karma

You've talked about your new motto "Deploy or die" in a few talks. Does that mean you don't see any value in pure research? How do students at MIT deploy things, is there funding?

joi_ito12 karma

When the Media Lab was founded 30 years ago, Nicholas Negroponte said that the Media Lab was about "demo or die" as opposed to "publish or perish" which represented a departure from the paper writing of academic to a more prototype and demo model. This fit well with the roots in architecture which also focuses on the atelier model of building things. This actually allows rigor at an interdisciplinary level that couldn't occur if participants across disciplines had to write an academic paper together. This worked very well for 30 years especially when a large percentage of the impact of the Media Lab was through influencing other organizations such as the sponsors of the Media Lab to create products such as guitar hero, the Kindle or LEGO Mindstorms.

However, with the diminishing cost of deploying things like websites or even hardware, researchers at the Media Lab are increasingly able to deploy directly. Last year, we change "demo or die" to deploy or die to signal a shift from just building prototypes (Nicholas actually said, "the demo only has to work once") to thinking about and actually deploying our work directly into the world.

gaurav_arora_3 karma

What do you think about the world getting dependent on the internet, are we losing on something? The physical aspect of actually meeting people. What do you think about the upcoming technologies and startups that make everything accessible to the human mind through an internet connection. I know getting cabs and groceries through an app is convenient, when does the threshold occur?

joi_ito11 karma

Actually, the majority of the people I meet, I meet because of the Internet. The Internet not only provides the logistics of meeting people in the real world, but provides context, serendipity and even makes meetings more efficient because you don't spend as much time explaining all of the background... at least for me. I'm sure you can find a way to use the Internet to meet less people, but you can find a way to use just about anything in a stupid way.

dadabit3 karma

what would you say to the individuals who has tought of similar, same ideas that are happening in the media lab but never come to the realization phase ?

joi_ito6 karma

This is one big thing that that I have been pushing since I got to the Media Lab - to post more stuff to the Internet and share as much as possible. We're posting all of our videos and other things.

The reason is that the Internet allows people to see what we're doing and allows us to see what they're doing. This enables us to collaborate with people thinking about similar things or to avoid doing things that others are already doing or have done. One of the key things that we focus on is to NOT do things that others are already doing. This doesn't always work, but I think that as more and more work from across the world is available and searchable online, the less likely we see redundancy.

So for individuals who have similar ideas, I would suggest contacting the research group at the Media Lab that is working on the idea to see if there is a way to collaborate.

See for example:

NonPracticingAtheist3 karma

I read some of your thoughts on learning. Is there anything in the works for children in school to get introduced to different learning approaches? My son attended a summer program that was focused on STEM, I was hugely excited but on seeing the end results I was not impressed.

joi_ito5 karma

This is completely nepotistic, but my sister is doing cool stuff in this space. See her new startup:

bee25023 karma

What is your typical day like ? And what do you do to relax?

joi_ito8 karma

I feed sharks while wearing chainmail:

Pleaseluggage3 karma

Is there any real work being done on non invasive holograms? (Ones which don't need a spinning or misting device to project imagery). I'm imagining images in a stadium environment at a concert or other large assemblies. In your opinion, is it feasable with higher than HD resolution? What is the technology which needs to be developed to make it happen?

joi_ito2 karma

The Object-Based Media group at the Lab is working on holography, and their various projects are on their group site

There’s a hologram of me that is still a surprise when I come around the corner and end up face-to-face with it.

theacidbull3 karma

Hi there! I am an ardent supporter of Creative Commons. But don't you share the concern that CC would, over time, replace the copyright system and thus lose authenticity and value?

joi_ito5 karma

I think the best outcome of Creative Commons is that copyright law catches up and we don't need it anymore.

okplanetxerox2 karma

What can you say about research currently being done in computer music and audio signal processing at the Media Lab? It seems that since the Music, Mind, and Machine group has been disbanded, there has been less dedicated computer music work done at the Media Lab, with most of the current projects focusing on music and/or sound as a single dimension contained within more inter(anti)-disciplinary pursuits.

joi_ito1 karma

The Music, Mind and Machine group was Barry Vercoe’s group. Each group is run by a single faculty member so the group was disbanded when Barry retired. Tod Machover's Opera of the Future group is very focused on music:

km11lj2 karma

Hello! I'm currently wrapping up my BDes in Industrial Design with a goal to apply to one of MIT Media Lab's graduate programs.

After doing some research with some friends... we realized that most of the current students in your programs have TWO bachelor degrees. One that is arts based, and another which is very STEM heavy.

Even though there is a huge support for MOOCs and open learning, is it possible to be accepted into an MIT Media lab graduate program based on self directed learning in personal STEM skill development and one bachelor degree in a creative field?

You probably get admission questions all the time. So feel free to ignore.

Also is there an open house for those interested in applying?

icuack2 karma

What are the strategies of the Media Lab in order to have Global impact? I´m working in a similar lab but I guess we do not have all the impact that we should have

joi_ito2 karma

We do a number of things. One thing is my Director's Fellows Program:

We also do a lot of workshops overseas... we've done many in India and recently in Brazil, Nairobi, Abu Dhabi and soon in Mexico City, etc. These involve students, faculty and fellows.

We also collaborate with a lot of organizations internationally.

Each of our groups also do quite a bit of work in the field. Ethan Zuckerman and the Center for Civic Media is one group that does a variety of projects internationally:

Ramesh Raskar and his group Camera Culture do a great deal in India:

And Joost Bonsen and Sandy Pentland teach a course called Development Ventures which is focused on creating venture businesses in developing countries and has been very successful:

And there is a lot of stuff going on that I don't know.

So the strategy is to encourage global interaction and get out of the way and let people do it as well as support and nudge where it helps.

theacidbull2 karma

You said you never completed college. Do you think your career choices would have been different if you did?

joi_ito6 karma

I think that there are probably a few people - mostly white men - for whom dropping out of college turned out to be exactly the right thing. I think that for the most part, a college degree will increase options for just about anyone, so I always try to convince my students - not just because it's now my job to - to complete their degrees. The people who should drop out, will drop out anyway and so anyone who can be convinced to not drop out, probably shouldn't.

In my case, it's hard to say. There is a total survivorship bias since it could just be luck that I turned out OK and you're not talking to the 99% of the people for whom it sucked because they couldn't get the job because they didn't have the degree.

My career choices would probably have been different, but I really don't think that you take my choices as any guide for how to live your own life since we're all pretty different... sorry about the non-answer here.

valisai2 karma

Who is the most awesome warrior in your Warcraft guild and why is it Valisa?

joi_ito5 karma


That's all.

111tacocat1112 karma

Dear Joi,

This is MJ Btw. When can we go Karaoke again? PS. Do you still play your warlock anymore?

joi_ito3 karma

Hey MJ! You mean Pornaoke? I wish I could play WoW more, but I don't have enough time these days.

h0rak1 karma

What have you wasted the most time on?

joi_ito1 karma

"Wasted" but also learned a lot from. The World of Warcraft:

MillyBitcoin1 karma

What is being done to bring in more developers to Bitcoin? There is no incentive built into the Bitcoin system itself for new developers to come on board and work on an open source project without a salary.

joi_ito1 karma

We're trying to encourage faculty, researchers and students to work on Bitcoin and I hope this generate a new pipeline of developers who can contribute to the project.

Archaeologist011 karma

Hi there. What are your thoughts on Quantum Computers?

joi_ito5 karma

One funny note about quantum computers - just had lunch with Seth Lloyd the other day. I asked him why, as someone who make quantum computers, he was in mechanical engineering and not in physics. He said it was because he knew how to make a quantum computer but didn't understand how worked really. So physics wouldn't take him, but engineers were happy that it worked, even if they didn't know why. Practice over Theory in action.

drake07271 karma

What would you like your legacy for technology be?

joi_ito2 karma

I don't think too much about my legacy.

mrfilipb11 karma

How do you see the MIT Media Lab fitting into the wider world of climate change mitigation/adaption research?

joi_ito1 karma

I believe climate change is a hugely important topic, if not the most important topic. We are in the middle of a faculty search for a professor to lead a group at the Media Lab on climate change.

timonsmith1 karma

Is this for real?

joi_ito3 karma


bobbaphet1 karma

So when are you going to play WoW again?! ~Allynn the mage! We know!

joi_ito1 karma

Are you playing again Allynn?

fpvhawk1 karma

What are you thoughts on Bitcoin? Do you own some?

joi_ito1 karma

See other answers about Bitcoin for my thoughts on Bitcoin, but to answer the owning Bitcoin question... I have enough in my wallets to pay for things and mess around but I don't have enough to consider it an "investment". I would guess I probably have $200 USD worth of Bitcoin or something.

packetinspector1 karma

Were you an immediate "bitcoin believer" or did you take some time to come around?

Thanks for the AMA :)

joi_ito2 karma

It probably took me more time than I would like to admit for me to "come around". Also, I've come around to feeling it's super-important, but as Reid Hoffman likes to say, I'm still not sure if Bitcoin is the first or the last digital currency. In other words, whether Bitcoin itself evolves to be the final winner or whether something else inspired by Bitcoin eventually takes off is still a question, I think.

yeh-nah-yeh1 karma

MIT is a part of the military industrial complex's research wing. How have you felt this in your work there? What affects does it have?

joi_ito1 karma

The military influence on the Media Lab is quite small. It's a tiny part of our overall funding which is mostly undirected consortium membership funds from companies and some from foundations and individuals. MIT has quite a bit of military funding, but it's mostly advanced research and I don't see, from where I sit, much negative influence. The main impact is probably that many of the rules around accounting and conflict of interest are based on relatively strict federal funding guidelines which limits our flexibility sometimes.

icuack1 karma

Hi, another question. In the third world many engineers and scientist are trained in order to have a very "square" mind", on another hand, industrial designers, architects and artist continue doing the old school stuff. How we can mix both people in order to provide creative technological solutions? What are the requirements for a new curricula mixing both things?

joi_ito4 karma

I already referenced this blog post:

But, I think it's key to not just get the designers, engineers, artists and scientists in the same room, but you have to get all of it into individual heads. Also, "design" is sort of a suitcase word that starts with industrial design, includes IDEO style "design thinking" but is expanding to computational design, biological design - really the future of science is about a new kind of design the integrates everything. In many ways, great engineers are just great designers. I think one of the problems is that these words mean so many different things to different people, but instead of dumping them, I think we should retake them. One key word in thinking about this is antidisciplinary. Sorry to page slap again, but here's my blog post about it:

[deleted]1 karma


joi_ito1 karma

The food.

km11lj1 karma

What is your favourite food?

joi_ito1 karma

Japanese food.