Subjects

Frank Moss

Former Director, MIT Media Lab; Professor of Media Technology, MIT
Author, The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices

A highly successful business founder on a mission to revive creativity in America.

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Biography

When Frank Moss was just a boy, America had its eyes trained on the stars. The whole country was devoted to one goal: making it to the Moon. We made it, of course. And we made it there on the strength of our innovations.

Frank was inspired by those days. He never lost his passion for science and space: he earned a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, and from 2006 to 2011 he was Director of the MIT Media Lab, where many of today’s most ground-breaking technologies took shape. But he also never forgot the key lesson of the "Moon Shot": innovation means invention.

Now, “innovation” has become such a buzz-word these days that it’s easy to forget what it really means. Too often, we associate it with simple business strategy. We imagine that we can stay ahead in a market of ideas just by calling in a consultant and applying a cookie-cutter model of success.

But innovation means coming up with something new. It means creativity and a willingness to take risks. Only genuinely fresh ideas will let you stay ahead in today’s market — and contribute something meaningful to today’s world.

That’s Frank Moss’ message. He calls himself an “innovation activist”, because he’s on a mission to revive the kind of innovation that made this country great. And if anyone understands what that means, it’s Frank. He’s a business founder with ten-odd companies under his belt and two exciting start-ups in his pocket right now. What’s more, his five years as the Director of the MIT Media Lab taught him the attitudes and approaches that allow for true innovation. And he’d love to share them with you.

The MIT Media Lab, in case you don’t know, brought us the technologies behind Amazon’s Kindle and Activision’s Guitar Hero games. It’s a fantastic hotbed of no-holds barred creativity, where scientists and students invent and experiment without any fear of failure. It’s an atmosphere that allows such ground-breaking innovations as prosthetic ankle joints and an inexpensive smartphone accessory that lets you give yourself an eye exam.

Frank’s new book about the Media Lab, called The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices, gives you a tour of this amazing innovation centre.

His time at the Lab inspires Frank to say the true impact of technology is still to come. Now Frank is calling for a Moon Shot for health: a rallying of American creativity to come up with genuinely life-changing innovations. He’s got his eye on affective computing, the technology that would allow an autistic child to read a friend’s expressions with the help of an iPad app. One of his own start-ups aims to compile the nation’s menus to help consumers plan a healthy diet. That’s the kind of invention Frank believes in — technology that makes our lives better, not just easier.

It’s an inspiring message, with real consequences for your business culture and your bottom line. After you’ve heard Frank deliver it, with his easy charisma and deep personal engagement, you’ll be in a position to do more than work a couple tips and tricks into your business plan. You’ll be part of the new wave of innovation coming to this country — the same ambitious, risk-taking, creative spirit that sent us to the Moon.

What kind of innovator will you be? Will you just take a small step? Or are you ready for that giant leap?

Books

The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices

How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives

Frank Moss

If you've ever read a book on an e-reader, unleashed your inner rock star playing Guitar Hero, built a robot with LEGO Mindstorms, or ridden in a vehicle with child-safe air bags, then you've experienced first hand just a few of the astounding innovations that have come out of the Media Lab over the past 25 years. But that’s old hat for today’s researchers, who are creating technologies that will have a much deeper impact on the quality of people’s lives over the next quarter century. 

In this exhilarating tour of the Media Lab's inner sanctums, we'll meet the professors and their students - the Sorcerers and their Apprentices — and witness first hand the creative magic behind inventions such as:

  • Nexi, a mobile humanoid robot with such sophisticated social skills she can serve as a helpful and understanding companion for the sick and elderly.
  • CityCar, a foldable, stackable, electric vehicle of the future that will redefine personal transportation in cities and revolutionize urban life.
  • Sixth Sense, a compact wearable device that transforms any surface — wall, tabletop or even your hand - into a touch screen computer.
  • PowerFoot, a lifelike robotic prosthesis that enables amputees to walk as naturally as if it were a real biological limb.

Through inspiring stories of people who are using Media Lab innovations to confront personal challenges — like a man with cerebral palsy who is unable to hum a tune or pick up an instrument yet is using an ingenious music composition system to unleash his “inner Mozart”, and a woman with a rare life-threatening condition who co-invented a revolutionary web service that enables patients to participate in the search for their own cures - we’ll see how the Media Lab is empowering us all with the tools to take control of our health, wealth, and happiness.

Along the way, Moss reveals the highly unorthodox approach to creativity and invention that makes all this possible, explaining how the Media Lab cultivates an open and boundary-less environment where researchers from a broad array of disciplines — from musicians to neuroscientists to visual artists to computer engineers — have the freedom to follow their passions and take bold risks unthinkable elsewhere.

The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices can serve as a blueprint for how to fix our broken innovation ecosystem and bring about the kind of radical change required to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  It is a must-read for anyone striving to be more innovative as an individual, as a businessperson, or as a member of society.

Crown Business (7 Jun 2011)

Praise

"Out of the creative chaos at the MIT Media Lab have come fantastical inventions that have changed how we work, play, and live. Frank Moss’ stories of the ‘digital magicians’ behind these experiments and discoveries are inspiring and engaging."
— Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google

"This book will be a delight for anyone who cares about innovation. For more than twenty-five years, the MIT Media Lab has been inventing the future and humanizing technology. Weaving fascinating tales with insightful concepts, Frank Moss tells us how. He shows the way to harness passion and break down the walls between disciplines in order to unleash creativity in fields ranging from robotics to music to the making of mechanical limbs."
— Walter Isaacson, CEO and president, The Aspen Institute, former chairman and CEO of CNN, and bestselling author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

"Anyone who wants to succeed — be it in technology art, or business — needs to follow the unique multi-disciplinary approach described in this book. Our future depends on innovation. This book provides the inspiration and motivation we need to change the world, one page at a time."
— Chad Hurley, Co-Founder & former CEO, YouTube.

"As a CIO, I understand the challenges of managing brilliant and creative people. Frank Moss' insightful case studies from the Media Lab provide a roadmap for leaders who want to accelerate innovation. There is no better example of a culture that inspires and enables invention."
— Dr. John Halamka, Chief Information Officer, Harvard Medical School and The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 

"The stories begin about the gadgets for which the MIT Media Lab is well known, but then they turn human, as Frank Moss introduces us to the professors and students flourishing in the Lab's unique innovation ecology. SORCERERS ends too soon, leaving you curious, excited, and determined to know more about the MIT Media Lab's unique approach to inventing and innovation. This book is timely for America, right now looking to innovate on innovation, to winning the future."
— Bob Metcalfe, Ethernet Inventor, formulator of Metcalfe's Law, and Professor of Innovation at UTexas Austin.

"Our world is changing at an exponential rate. Billion dollar industries are folding overnight and Billion dollar start-ups are seemingly coming out of no-where. Small teams empowered by technology can now do what was once only possible by large corporations and governments. Frank Moss’ book shares countless examples of inspired creativity and fearless innovation. This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to change their company, industry or the world."
— Peter H. Diamandis, MD, MS, Chairman/CEO, X PRIZE Foundation, Chairman/Vice-Chancellor, Singularity University

Topics

Frank tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Creativity and Innovation

Innovation in Healthcare