A beautiful question that spawned a futuristic car

Insights from Frank Moss at the MIT Media Lab

Frank Moss is a successful tech entrepreneur and former director of the MIT Media Lab, a fascinating place where people are questioning almost everything about the ways we live and how our world operates. In a conversation I had with Moss the other day, he told me about how one Media Lab project—an endeavor to build a car of the future, known as the CityCar—revolved around an interesting question.

The team working on the car—a mix of architects, computer scientists, social scientists, urban planners, and other disciplines—started by thinking not about the car itself but the ways it would be used, and where it would be used. That led them to pose this question:

What if you imagined the kind of city in which you’d like to live, and then designed a car for this ideal place?

What resulted was a little gem that was a stackable, foldable, electric car, incorporating revolutionary features including a new form of robotic wheel, a foldable RoboScooter, and an award-winning approach to managing urban transportation systems called Mobility-on-Demand. The project, along with a larger discussion of how and why the innovators at MIT Media Lab are able to do such remarkable things, is described in this post written by Moss. And for the full story of what’s going on at MIT Media Lab, check out Moss’s book The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives.

Moss told me that questioning is at the core of everything at MIT Media Lab, but in particular, what makes the innovators there so successful is that they act on their questions: They build, they test, they experiment—and they give form to those beautiful questions they’re asking.

Follow Frank on twitter at http://twitter.com/frank_moss

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About the Author

Journalist and speaker Warren Berger realized that the majority of successful creatives and entrepreneurs he was interviewing over the years were great questioners. His wondering about "How can we all learn to do what they do?” led to this website and the writing of his latest book, A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts here.

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