Boston-area institutions launch HUBweek to take on big problems

There’s never a shortage of big problems confronting the world — think the looming scarcity of fuel, food and water. Addressing such issues is the purported goal of HUBweek, a series of events planned for October 2015 and sponsored by the Boston Globe, Harvard University, Mass General Hospital and MIT.

The inaugural event is slated to take place October 3–10, 2015 at venues in and around Boston and Cambridge. MIT, for example, will host Solve to address challenges in education, healthcare, energy and manufacturing. That event will be “curated” by Anant Agarwal, professor of engineering and computer science; Phillip Sharp, institute professor and affiliate of the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research; Angela Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy; and Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus of engineering and computer science (and founder of Rethink Robotics).

In a related doing-good meme, [company]Google[/company] sponsored a hackathon  that challenged data scientists to make an impact on a real-world problem in 24 hours. The winning team of Bay Area scientists used free Google cloud credits to identify prostitution rings by analyzing patterns of phone numbers and text in postings to adult escort websites.

MIT's Kresge Auditorium.

MIT’s Kresge Auditorium.

Wanted: The ability to fail

If the world wants solutions to its most intractable problems — getting enough food, water and fuel for 9 billion people, for example — entrepreneurs must be able to try out big ideas. And fail sometimes.

Meet Baxter, the “huggable” robot for your grandma

Sure, Baxter the Robot can pack boxes or maybe even assemble furniture. But he — er, it — may one day help senior citizens stay in their homes longer. Rethink Robotics’ Baxter made his public debut Wednesday at EMtech 2012 at MIT.

What does iPhone have to do with robots?

It is hard to imagine that it has only been five years since the smartphone revolution started in earnest. The sensor driven modern marvels are not only redefining how we interact with the world, but they are also having unintended consequences. Like helping make cheaper robots.

Baxter may not be Rosie the Robot, but he’s getting close

Baxter the robot may not iron your clothes but he very well might assemble your furniture or pack the boxes it comes in. The brainchild of Rethink Robotics’ founder Rodney Brooks, Baxter is really making some waves in the industrial robot sector.