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Artificial Intelligence

Sustainability starts in the design process, and AI can help

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Synthetic intelligence helps construct bodily infrastructure like modular housing, skyscrapers, and manufacturing unit flooring. many issues that we wrestle with in all types of engineering and design are very, very complicated problemsthose issues are starting to achieve the bounds of human capability, says Mike Haley, the vp of analysis at Autodesk. However theres hope with AI capabilities, Haley continues It is a place the place AI and people come collectively very properly as a result of AI can really take sure very complicated issues on the earth and recast them.

And the place AI and people come collectively is firstly of the method with generative design, which includes AI into the design course of to discover options and concepts {that a} human alone may not have even thought of. You actually need to have the ability to take a look at the complete lifecycle of manufacturing one thing and ask your self, How can I produce this through the use of the least quantity of vitality all through? This type of considering will scale back the impression of, not simply building, however any type of product creation on the planet.

The symbiotic human-computer relationship behind generative design is important to unravel these very complicated problemsincluding sustainability. We’re not going to have a sustainable society till we be taught to construct productsfrom cell phones to buildings to massive items of infrastructurethat survive the long-term, Haley notes.

The important thing, he says, is to begin within the earliest phases of the design course of. Choices that have an effect on sustainability occur within the conceptual section, once you’re imagining what you are going to create. He continues, When you can start to place options into software program, into decision-making methods, early on, they’ll information designers towards extra sustainable options by affecting them at this early stage.

Utilizing generative design will lead to malleable options that anticipate future wants or necessities to keep away from having to construct new options, merchandise, or infrastructure. What if a constructing that was constructed for one objective, when it wanted to be was a unique form of constructing, wasn’t destroyed, but it surely was simply tweaked barely?

Thats the actual alternative herecreating a relationship between people and computer systems will probably be foundational to the way forward for design. The consequence of bringing the digital and bodily collectively, Haley says, is that it creates a suggestions loop between what will get created on the earth and what’s about to be created subsequent time.

Present notes and references

What is Generative Design, and How Can It Be Used in Manufacturing?” by Dan Miles, Redshift by Autodesk, November 19, 2021

4 Ways AI in Architecture and Construction Can Empower Building Projects” by Zach Mortice, Redshift by Autodesk, April 22, 2021

Full transcript

Laurel Ruma: From MIT Expertise Overview, I am Laurel Ruma, and that is Enterprise Lab, the present that helps enterprise leaders make sense of latest applied sciences popping out of the lab and into {the marketplace}. Our matter right now is about tips on how to design higher with synthetic intelligence, every little thing from modular housing to skyscrapers to manufactured merchandise and manufacturing unit flooring might be designed with and profit from AI and machine studying applied sciences. As synthetic intelligence helps people with design choices, how can it assist us construct smarter? Two phrases for you: sustainable design.

My visitor is Mike Haley, the vp of analysis at Autodesk. Mike leads a group of researchers, engineers, and different specialists who’re exploring the way forward for design and making.

This episode of Enterprise Lab is produced in affiliation with Autodesk.

Welcome, Mike.

Mike Haley: Hello Laurel. Thanks for having me.

Laurel: So for individuals who do not know, Autodesk expertise helps structure, engineering, building, product design, manufacturing, in addition to media and leisure industries. And we’ll be speaking about that form of design and synthetic intelligence right now. However one particular side of it’s generative design. What’s generative design? And the way does it lend itself to an AI-human collaboration?

Mike: So Laurel, to reply that, first you must ask your self: What’s design? When designers are approaching an issue, they’re typically trying on the downside by way of a variety of constraints, so in the event you’re constructing a constructing, there’s a certain quantity of land you’ve gotten, for instance. And also you’re additionally attempting to enhance or optimize one thing. So maybe you are attempting to construct the constructing with a really low price, or have low environmental impression, or help as many individuals as doable. So you’ve got bought this simultaneous downside of coping with your constraints, after which attempting to maximise these varied design components.

That’s actually the essence of any design downside. The historical past of design is that it’s completely a human downside. People could use instruments. These instruments could also be pens and pencils, they might be calculators, and so they could also be computer systems to unravel that. However actually, the essence of fixing that downside lies purely inside the human thoughts. Generative design is the primary time we’re producing expertise that’s utilizing the computational capability of the pc to help us in that course of, to assist us transcend maybe the place our ordinary issues go.

As you and I am certain many of the viewers know, individuals discuss loads about bias in AI algorithms, however bias typically comes from the information these algorithms see, and the bias in that knowledge typically comes from people, so we are literally very, very biased. This reveals up in design as properly. The benefit of utilizing computational help is you’ll be able to introduce very superior types of AI that aren’t really based mostly on knowledge. They’re based mostly on algorithmic or bodily understandings of the world, in order that once you’re attempting to grasp that constructing, or design an airplane, or design a bicycle, or what it is perhaps, it could really use issues just like the legal guidelines of physics, for instance, to grasp the total unfold of doable options to deal with that design downside I simply talked about.

So in some methods, you’ll be able to consider generative design as a pc expertise that enables designers to develop their minds and to discover areas and potentialities of options that they maybe would not go in any other case. And it would even be exterior of their conventional consolation zone, so biases would possibly stop them from going there. One factor you discover with generative design is once we watch individuals use this expertise, they have a tendency to make use of it in an iterative style. They’ll provide the issue to the pc, let the pc suggest some options, after which they’ll take a look at these options after which start to regulate their standards and run it once more. That is virtually this symbiotic form of relationship that types between the human and the pc. And I actually get pleasure from that as a result of the human thoughts shouldn’t be excellent at computing. The favored thought is you’ll be able to maintain seven information in your head without delay, which is loads smaller than the pc, proper?

However human minds are wonderful at responding and evaluating conditions and bringing in a really broad set of issues. That in reality is the essence of creativity. So in the event you convey that every one collectively and take a look at that whole course of, that’s actually what generative design is all about.

Laurel: So actually what you are speaking about is the connection between a human and a pc. And the output of this relationship is one thing that is higher than both one may do by themselves.

Mike: Sure, that is proper. Precisely. I imply, people have a set of limitations, and now we have a set of abilities that we convey collectively actually once we’re being artistic. The identical is true of a pc. The pc has sure issues like computation, for instance, and understanding the legal guidelines of physics and issues like that. Nevertheless it’s much better than we’re. Nevertheless it’s additionally extremely restricted in with the ability to consider the efficacy of an answer. So generative is actually about bringing these two issues collectively.

Laurel: So there’s been loads of dialogue about how AI and automation changing employees is a concern. What’s the AI human collaboration that you just’re envisioning for the way forward for work? How can this partnership proceed?

Mike: There’s an extremely attention-grabbing relationship between AI and really not simply fixing issues on the earth along with people, but in addition bettering the human situation. So once we discuss in regards to the rigidity between AI and human work, I actually like to have a look at it by way of that lens, in order that once we consider AI studying the world, studying tips on how to do issues, that may result in one thing like automation. These learningsthose digital learningscan drive issues like a robotic, or a machine in a manufacturing unit, or a machine in a building web site, and even simply a pc algorithm that may resolve on one thing for you.

That may be highly effective if managed appropriately. After all, you’ve got at all times bought the dangers of bias and unfairness and people sorts of issues that you’ve got to pay attention to. However there’s one other impact of AI studying: it’s now in a position to additionally higher perceive what a human being is doing. So think about an AI that watches you kind in a phrase processor, for instance. And it watches you kind for a lot of, a few years. It learns issues about your writing type. Now one of many apparent automation issues it could do is start to make solutions on your writing, which is okay. We’re starting to see that right now already. However one thing it may additionally do is definitely start to guage your writing and really perceive, perhaps in a really nuanced approach, the way you evaluate to different writers. So maybe you are writing a form of fiction, and it is saying, “Effectively, typically on this realm of fiction, those who write like you’re focusing on these kinds of audiences. And perhaps you need to think about this type of tone, or nature of your writing.”

In doing that, the AI is definitely offering extra tuned methods of educating you as a human being by way of interpretation of your actions and dealing once more in a extremely iterative approach with an individual to information them to enhance their very own functionality. So this isn’t about automating the issue. It is really in some ironic approach, automating the method of coaching an individual and bettering their abilities. So we actually wish to put that lens on AI and take a look at that approach in that, sure, we’re automating loads of duties, however we will additionally use that very same expertise to assist people develop abilities and enhance their very own capability.

The opposite factor I’ll point out on this area is that many issues that we wrestle with in all types of engineering and design are very, very complicated, and we’re speaking about a few of them proper now. These issues are starting to achieve the bounds of human capability. Now we have to begin simplifying them in some methods. It is a place the place AI and people come collectively very properly as a result of AI can really take sure very complicated issues on the earth and recast them. They are often recast or reinterpreted into language or sub issues that human beings can really perceive, that we will wrestle with and supply solutions. After which the AI can take these solutions again and supply a greater answer to no matter downside we occur to be wrestling with at the moment.

Laurel: So talking of a few of these actually troublesome issues, local weather change, sustainability, that is actually a type of. And also you really wrote, and this is a quote out of your piece, quote, “Merchandise want to enhance in high quality as a result of an outmoded throw-away society shouldn’t be acceptable within the long-term.” So that you’re saying right here that AI can assist with these varieties of massive societal issues too.

Mike: Yeah, precisely. That is precisely the form of troublesome downside that I used to be simply speaking about.For instance, how many individuals get a brand new smartphone, and inside a 12 months or two, you are tossing it to get your new one? And that is turning into a part of simply the way in which we stay. And we’re not going to have a sustainable society till we really be taught to construct merchandise, and merchandise might be something from a cell phone to a constructing, or massive items of infrastructure, that survive long-term.

Now what occurs within the long-term? Typically, necessities change. The ability of issues change. Folks’s response to that, once more, like I simply mentioned, is to throw them away and create one thing new. However what if these issues had been amenable to alter in some methods? What in the event that they might be partially recreated midway by way of their lifespan? What if a constructing that was constructed for one objective, when it wanted to be was a unique form of constructing, wasn’t destroyed, but it surely was simply tweaked barely? As a result of when the designer first designed that constructing, there was a method to ponder what all future customers of that constructing might be. What are the patterns of these? And the way may that constructing be designed in such a method to help these future makes use of?

So, fixing that form of design downside, fixing an issue the place you are not simply fixing your present downside, however you are attempting to unravel all the longer term issues in some methods is a really, very troublesome downside. And it was the form of downside I used to be speaking about earlier on. We actually want a pc that can assist you suppose by way of that. In design phrases, that is what we name a methods downside as a result of there’s a number of methods you should consider, a system of time, a system of society, of economic system, of all kinds of issues round it you should suppose by way of. And the one method to suppose by way of that’s with an AI system or a computational system being your assistant by way of that course of.

Laurel: I’ve to say that is a bit thoughts bending, to consider all of the doable iterations of a constructing, or an plane provider, or perhaps a mobile phone. However that type of concentrate on sustainability actually modifications how merchandise and skyscrapers and manufacturing unit flooring are designed. What else is feasible with AI and machine studying with sustainability?

Mike: We are likely to suppose usually alongside three axes. So one of many key points proper now we’re all conscious of is local weather change, which is rooted in carbon. And lots of, many practices on the earth contain the manufacturing of monumental quantities of carbon or what we name retained carbon. So if we’re producing concrete, you are producing additional carbon within the ambiance. So we may start to design buildings, or merchandise, or no matter it is perhaps, that both use much less carbon within the manufacturing of the supplies, or within the creation of the constructions themselves, or in the perfect case, even use issues which have destructive carbon.

For instance, utilizing a considerable amount of timber in a constructing can really scale back general carbon utilization as a result of on the lifetime that tree was rising, it consumed carbon. It embodied the carbon contained in the ambiance into itself. And now you’ve got used it. You have trapped it primarily contained in the wooden, and you have positioned that into the constructing. You did not create new carbon on account of producing the wooden. Embodied vitality is one thing else we consider too. In creating something on the earth, there may be vitality that’s going to enter that. That vitality is perhaps driving a manufacturing unit, however that vitality might be transport merchandise or uncooked supplies the world over. You actually need to have the ability to take a look at the complete lifecycle of manufacturing one thing and ask your self, “How can I produce this through the use of the least quantity of vitality all through?” And you’ll have a decrease impression on the planet.

The ultimate instance is waste. It is a very vital space for AI to have an impact as a result of waste in some methods is a couple of design that isn’t optimum. Whenever you’re producing waste from one thing, it means there are items you do not want. There’s materials you do not want. There’s one thing popping out of this which is clearly being discarded. It’s typically doable to make use of AI to guage these designs in such a method to reduce these waste-ages, after which additionally produce automations, like for instance, a robotic noticed that may reduce wooden for a constructing, or timber framing in a constructing, that is aware of the quantity of wooden you’ve gotten. It is aware of the place every bit goes to go. And it is form of reducing the wooden in order that it is certain that it’ll produce as little off cuts which are going to be thrown away as doable. One thing like that may even have a major impact on the finish of the day.

Laurel: You talked about earlier AI may assist, for instance, one thing writing, and the way of us write and their kinds, and so on. But in addition, understanding methods and the way methods work can also be actually vital. So how may AI and ML be utilized to schooling? And the way does that have an effect on college students and educating usually?

Mike: One of many areas that I am very keen about the place generative design and studying come collectively is round a time period that we have been enjoying round with for some time in all of this analysis, which is this concept of generative studying, which is studying for you. somewhat bit alongside the strains of among the stuff we talked about earlier than, the place you are virtually trying on the human as a part of a loop along with the pc. The pc understands what you are attempting to do. It is studying extra about the way you evaluate to others, maybe the place you would enhance in your personal proficiencies. After which it is guiding you in these instructions. Maybe it is supplying you with challenges that particularly push you on these. Maybe it is supplying you with instructions. Maybe it is connecting you with others that may really assist enhance you.

Like I mentioned, we consider that as type of a generative studying. What you are attempting to optimize right here shouldn’t be a design, like what we talked about earlier than, however we’re attempting to optimize your studying. We’re attempting to optimize your skillset. Additionally, I believe underlying loads of this as properly is a shift in a paradigm. Up till pretty just lately, computer systems had been actually simply seen as a giant calculator. Proper? Actually in design, even in our software program right here at Autodesk. I imply, the software program was usually used to discover a design or to doc a design. The software program wasn’t used to truly calculate each side of the design. It was used actually in some methods as a really complicated form of drawing board, in some sense.

That is altering now with applied sciences like generative design, the place you actually are, like I talked about earlier, working within the loop with the pc. So the pc is suggesting issues to you. It is pushing you as a designer. And also you as a designer are additionally considerably of a curator now. You are reacting to issues that the pc is suggesting or offering to you. So embracing this paradigm early on in schooling, with the scholars coming into design and engineering right now, is actually, actually vital. I believe that they’ve a chance to take the fields of design and engineering to thoroughly completely different ranges as the results of with the ability to use these new capabilities successfully.

Laurel: One other place that this needs to be additionally utilized is the office. So workers and firms have to grasp that the expertise will even change the way in which that they work. So what instruments can be found to navigate our evolving office?


Mike:
Automation can have loads of unintended unwanted effects in a office. So one of many first issues any firm has to do is actually wrestle with that. It’s important to be very, very actual about what is the impact in your workforce. If automation goes to be making choices, what is the threat that these choices is perhaps unfair or biased in some methods? One of many issues that you must perceive is that this isn’t only a plug it in, swap it on, and every little thing’s going to work. It’s important to even contain your workforce proper from the start in these choices round automation. We see this in our personal trade, the businesses which are probably the most profitable in adopting automation are those which are listening probably the most intently to their workforce on the identical time.

It is not that they are not doing automation, however they’re really rolling it out in a approach that is commensurate with the workforce, and there is a specific amount of openness in that course of. I believe the opposite side that I like to have a look at from a altering work surroundings is the flexibility to focus our time as human beings on what actually issues, and never need to take care of a lot tedium in our lives. A lot of our time utilizing a pc is tedious. You are looking for the precise software. You are attempting to get assistance on one thing. You are attempting to work round some little factor that you do not perceive within the software program.

These sorts of issues are starting to fall away with AI and automation. And as they do, we have nonetheless bought a good method to go on that. However as we go additional down the road on that, what it means is that artistic individuals can spend extra time being artistic. They’ll concentrate on the essence of an issue. So in the event you’re an architect who’s laying out desks in an workplace area, you are most likely not being paid to truly lay out each desk. You are being paid to design an area. So what in the event you design the area and the pc really helps with the precise bodily desk structure? As a result of that is a reasonably easy factor to form of automate. I believe there is a actually basic change in the place individuals will probably be spending their time and the way they will be really spending their time.

Laurel: And that form of comes again to a subject we simply talked about, which is AI and ethics. How do firms embrace ethics with innovation in thoughts when they’re desirous about these synthetic intelligence alternatives?

Mike: That is one thing that is extremely vital in all of our industries. We’re seeing this rise, the attention of this rise, clearly it is there within the common society proper now. However we have been taking a look at this for some time, and a few learnings I may give you straight off the bat is any firm that is coping with automation and AI wants to make sure that they’ve help for an moral strategy to this proper from the very prime of the corporate as a result of the moral choices do not simply sit on the technical degree, they sit in any respect ranges of resolution making. They will be enterprise choices. They will be market choices. They will be manufacturing choices, funding choices and expertise choices. So you must ensure that it is understood inside any company or industrial surroundings.

Subsequent is that everyone needs to be aligned internally to these organizations on: What does ethics really imply? Ethics is a time period that is used fairly broadly. However when it really will get all the way down to doing one thing about it, and understanding in the event you’re being profitable at it, it is essential to be fairly exact on it. This brings me to the third level, that if you’re going to announce, in the event you’ve completed that, and also you now have an understanding of what it’s, you now must just remember to’re fixing a concrete downside as a result of ethics generally is a very, very fuzzy matter. You are able to do ethics washing very, very simply in a corporation.

And in the event you do not shortly deal with that and really outline a really particular downside, it should proceed to be fuzzy, and it’ll by no means have the impact that you just wish to see inside an organization. And the very last thing I’ll say is you must make it cultural. In case you are not making certain that moral conduct is definitely a part of the cultural values of your group, you are by no means going to really follow it. You’ll be able to put in governance constructions, you’ll be able to put in software program methods, you’ll be able to put in all kinds of issues that guarantee a reasonably excessive degree of ethics. However you may by no means make certain that you just’re actually doing it until it is embedded deeply inside the tradition of really how individuals behave inside your group.

Laurel: So once you take all of this collectively, what kinds of merchandise or functions are you seeing in early growth that we will anticipate and even stay up for within the subsequent, say, three to 5 years?

Mike: There’s a variety of issues. The primary class I like to think about is the raise-all-the-boats class, which signifies that we’re starting to see instruments that simply typically make everyone extra environment friendly at what they do, so it is just like what I used to be speaking about earlier on in regards to the architect laying out desks. It might be a automobile designer that’s designing a brand new automobile. And in most of right now’s automobiles, there’s loads of electrical wiring. At present, the designer has to route each cable by way of that automobile and present, inform the software program precisely the place that cable goes. That is not really very germane to the core design of the automobile, but it surely’s a vital evil to specify the automobile. That may be automated.

We’re starting to see these pretty easy automations starting to grow to be obtainable to all designers, all engineers, that simply permit them to be somewhat bit extra environment friendly, permit them to be somewhat bit extra exact with none additional effort, so I like to think about that because the raise-all-the-boats form of function. The subsequent factor, which we touched on earlier within the session, was the sustainability of options. It seems that many of the key choices that have an effect on the sustainability of a product, or a constructing, or actually something, occur within the earliest phases of the design. They actually occur on this very type of conceptual section once you’re imagining what you are going to create. So in the event you can start to place options into software program, into decision-making methods early on, they’ll information designers in the direction of extra sustainable options by way of affecting them at this early stage. That is the subsequent factor I believe we will see.

The opposite factor I am seeing seems rather a lot already, and this isn’t simply true in AI, but it surely’s simply typically true within the digital area, is the emergence of platforms and really versatile instruments that form to the wants of the customers themselves. Once I was first utilizing loads of software program, as I am certain many people bear in mind, you had one product. It at all times did a really particular factor, and it was the identical for whoever used it. That period is ending, and we’re ending up seeing instruments now which are extremely customizable, maybe they’re even robotically reconfiguring themselves as they perceive extra about what you want from them. In the event that they perceive extra about what your job really is, they’ll modify to that. So I believe that is the opposite factor we’re seeing.

The ultimate factor I am going to point out is that over the subsequent three to 5 years, we will see extra in regards to the breaking down of the barrier between digital and bodily. Synthetic intelligence has the flexibility to interpret the world round us. It might probably use sensors. Maybe it is microphones, maybe it is cameras, or maybe it is extra sophisticated sensors like pressure sensors inside concrete, or stress sensors on a bridge, and even understanding the methods people are behaving in an area. AI can really use all of these sensors to begin decoding them and create an understanding, a extra nuanced understanding of what is going on on in that surroundings. This was very troublesome, even 10 years in the past. It was very, very troublesome to create laptop algorithms that would do these kinds of issues.

So in the event you take for instance one thing like human conduct, we will really begin creating buildings the place the buildings really perceive how people behave in that constructing. They’ll perceive how they alter the air-con through the day, and the temperature of the constructing. How do individuals really feel contained in the constructing? The place do individuals congregate? How does it circulate? What’s the timing of utilization of that constructing? When you can start to grasp all of that and really pull it collectively, it means the subsequent constructing you create, and even enhancements to the present constructing might be higher as a result of the system now understands extra about: How is that constructing really getting used? There is a digital understanding of this.

This isn’t simply restricted to buildings, after all. This might be actually any product on the market. And that is the consequence of bringing the digital and bodily collectively, is that it creates this suggestions loop between what will get created on the earth and what’s about to be created subsequent time. And the digital understanding of that may continually enhance these outcomes.

Laurel: That is an incredible outlook. Mike, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us right now on what’s been a implausible dialog on The Enterprise Lab.

Mike: You are very welcome, Laurel. It was tremendous enjoyable. Thanks.

Laurel: That was Mike Haley, vp of analysis at Autodesk, who I spoke with from Cambridge, Massachusetts, the house of MIT and MIT Expertise Overview, overlooking the Charles River. That is it for this episode of Enterprise Lab. I am your host, Laurel Ruma. I am the director of insights, the customized publishing division of MIT Expertise Overview. We had been based in 1899 on the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise. And you could find us in print, on the internet, and at occasions every year around the globe. For extra details about us and the present, please take a look at our web site at technologyreview.com.

This present is on the market wherever you get your podcasts. When you loved this episode, we hope you may take a second to price and evaluation us. Enterprise Lab is a manufacturing of MIT Expertise Overview. This episode was produced by Collective Subsequent. Thanks for listening.

Click on here to learn the way Autodesk companions with clients throughout industries to think about greater, collaborate smarter, transfer sooner, and construct higher.

This podcast episode was produced by Insights, the customized content material arm of MIT Expertise Overview. It was not written by MIT Expertise Opinions editorial employees.

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Ahead in the cloud: Cloud, technology, and leadership with Debbie Taylor from NBN

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Thanks for joining us on “The cloud center: From cloud disorder to clearness.”

Debbie Taylor, primary info policeman at NBN Australia, goes over exactly how NBN is connecting the electronic divide in Australia. The conversation likewise covers Taylor’s management tale as well as NBNs trip to the cloud.

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Cloud Computing

Cloud technologies help corporations achieve carbon neutrality

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The previous 2 years of pandemic-related difficulties have actually sped up the fostering of cloud throughout sector at an unmatched price. This enhanced financial investment in cloud can offer to renew sustainability objectives as well as give the capability to gauge the effect of a financial investment. The repercussions of environment adjustment are no more academic, as well as company leaders are taking duty. While lots of companies settle on the important to transform, sorting with the sound to determine a course to attain nonpartisanship is made complex.

MIT Innovation Evaluation just recently took a seat with specialists from Infosys as well as MicrosoftCorey Glickman, companion as well as worldwide head of sustainability as well as style consulting solutions at innovation large Infosys, as well as Matt Hellman, the United States sustainability approach leader at Microsoftto talk about requireds, devices, timelines, as well as a lot more from their trips to attain carbon nonpartisanship.

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This web content was generated by Insights, the custom-made web content arm of MIT Innovation Evaluation. It was not created by MIT Innovation Reviews content team.

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