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Class Details
Joichi Ito
Special Topics in Media Technology Principles of Awareness (0-9-0) Instructors: Joichi Ito (Director, MIT Media Lab) and Tenzin Priyadarshi (Director, Ethics Initiative at MIT Media Lab) with Guest Speakers
What is awareness? Is self-awareness a “default” state or is it cultivated? Can it improve performance and wellbeing? What role does technology play in promoting or hindering awareness? Is there an ethical framework for our capacity to be aware? Can self-awareness be linked to happiness? The course will be set in an experiential learning environment where students/ participants will explore various theories and methodologies around awareness. Students will be required to keep an open lab book documenting methods and evaluations. Students will present their findings and observations regularly during class sessions. The final project will consist of evaluating various tools, techniques, and interfaces around awareness targeted towards “performance” and “wellbeing.”
Few themes to explore:
  • Boundaries of Awareness: Self Vs Other
  • Change
  • Relational Awareness
  • Non-Duality
  • Joy and Happiness
Class meetings (virtual and real) will consist of practice, lectures, and discussions with invited speakers/experts. Some of the talks will be open to the public. And the practice will range from meditation to hacking.


Not to exceed 25 extremely curious individuals who are willing to share their own practices, thoughts, and learnings. Preference given to Media Lab students.



E14-244 except Feb 8 (ML 3rd Floor Atrium)


  • Feb. 7 – Introduction: Joi Ito and Tenzin Priyadarshi
  • Feb. 8 @ 1:30-3:30 (“optional”) – ML Talk/Wellbeing: Joi, Peter, Tenzin
  • Feb. 14 – TA Discussion Session
  • Feb. 23 (“optional”) – Self-Awareness: Joi & Tenzin
  • Feb. 28 – TA Discussion Session
  • Mar 8 at 6:30 PM: Lucid Dreaming and Dream Yoga | Conversations with B. Alan Wallace (E14-633)
  • March 7 – Awareness of Other: Joi & Tenzin
  • March 14 – TA Discussion Session
  • March 21 – 8:00 - 9:00 - Optional - Qi-Gong Session with Joi & Peter Wayne Off-site
  • March 21 – Tentative: Role of Compassion: Joi & Tenzin(Skype)
  • April 4 – Non-violent Action- Jamila Raquib
  • April 11 – TA Discussion Session
  • April 25 – Non-violent Action- Jamila Raquib
  • May 2 – Marshall Ganz
  • May 9 – TA Discussion Session


Tuesdays 10am-12pm (Except Feb 23)


  • 30% weekly assignments/ open lab book
  • 40% class attendance and participation
  • 30% final project/ paper


Permission of Instructor


See suggested reading list
There will be weekly reading assignments and a final project.

Suggested Reading List

  1. Buber, Martin. I and Thou.
  2. Hegel. Phenomenology of Spirit.
  3. Sun Tzu. Art of war.
  4. Dalai Lama and Daniel Goleman. Destructive Emotions.
  5. Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi. An Autobiography - The Story of My Experiments With Truth.
  6. Thich Nhat Hanh. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation.
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