As Director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, Neil Gershenfeld explores the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds.

Why you should listen

MIT's Neil Gershenfeld is redefining the boundaries between the digital and analog worlds. The digital revolution is over, Gershenfeld says. We won. What comes next? His Center for Bits and Atoms has developed quite a few answers, including Internet 0, a tiny web server that fits into lightbulbs and doorknobs, networking the physical world in previously unimaginable ways.

But Gershenfeld is best known as a pioneer in personal fabrication -- small-scale manufacturing enabled by digital technologies, which gives people the tools to build literally anything they can imagine. His famous Fab Lab is immensely popular among students at MIT, who crowd Gershenfeld's classes. But the concept is potentially life-altering in the developing world, where a Fab Lab with just $20,000 worth of laser cutters, milling machines and soldering irons can transform a community, helping people harness their creativity to build tools, replacement parts and essential products unavailable in the local market. Read more in Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop.

What others say

“Neil Gershenfeld's celebrated, visionary FabLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology enables anybody to design and execute one-of-a-kind objects complete with brains.” — The New York Times

More news and ideas from Neil Gershenfeld

In Brief

Wireless advances in treating spinal cord damage, morphing wings for aircraft, and the world’s tallest tropical trees

November 22, 2016

Just a few of the intriguing headlines involving members of the TED community this week: Advances in treating spinal cord damage. In Nature, Grégoire Courtine and a team of scientists announced that they had successfully used a wireless brain-spine interface to help monkeys with spinal cord damage paralyzing one leg regain the ability to walk. […]

Continue reading
Technology

10 animals who’ve ruled the internet

July 10, 2013

“I make noises for a living, and on a good day it’s music,” says Peter Gabriel in today’s talk. “I work with a lot of musicians from around the world. Often, we don’t have any common language at all. But we sit behind our instruments and suddenly there’s a way to connect and emote.” This […]

Continue reading
News

Secret Voices: Speakers in Session 10 at TED2013

February 28, 2013

Shhh … it’s time for Secret Voices, the 10th session of TED2013. Get ready to hear stories of the forgotten, marginalized, stigmatized and hidden. Our first speaker will make quite an entrance while the last will give a stirring finish, in spoken word. In between, thoughts on interspecies communication. Here, the speakers who appeared in […]

Continue reading