Learn More About Arnav Kapur
“Imagine perfectly memorizing things, crunching numbers as fast as computers do, silently texting other people, suddenly becoming multilingual so you can hear the translation in your head in one language and speak in another.”
This is the vision of Arnav Kapur, pioneering inventor, researcher and rising star of the MIT Media Lab. As featured on CBS News 60 Minutes, he is working toward a future where people are at the center of technology that is used for good – extending our intelligence and abilities multifold without unplugging us from our environments, as today’s digital devices do, and enabling us to solve the world’s big problems. That future, in which wearable AI amplifies human intelligence, isn’t far from reality.
Kapur, a graduate researcher at MIT, is leading progress toward melding human and machine. Both a neuroscientist and computer scientist, he builds technologies that augment us – instead of replacing us – by disappearing into the background of the human experience. These inventions have the ability to raise us to new levels of curiosity, creativity and cognitive accomplishments. Kapur’s latest innovation is AlterEgo, an AI-enabled headset that allows humans to silently communicate with computers and other people without making any mouth movements or physical actions. The device – which Kapur so eloquently demonstrated live during his acclaimed 2019 TED Talk, “How AI Could Become an Extension of Your Mind” – detects, via powerful sensors, the signals the brain sends to internal speech mechanisms, like the tongue or larynx, when you speak to yourself. Ask the device a question and, through a separate part of the headset that uses bone-conduction audio, the AI can identify and transmit an answer back to you. Kapur, who won the $15,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for AlterEgo and was named a 2019 TED Fellow, makes it clear this isn’t mind reading nor science fiction. Rather, it’s an early example of how AI can increasingly become an extension of our own mind and body, not diminishing our humanity but allowing us to express ourselves freely and unobtrusively, and to learn in unprecedented ways. AlterEgo, which was named one of The Best Inventions of 2020 by TIME, also has significant implications in health care for the millions of people who struggle with speech, like those with ALS, oral cancer and stroke.
An explorer and creator at heart, Kapur’s expertise lies in bringing together science and the arts – disciplines that he believes offer unique yet equally important perspectives, each necessary for problem-solving. Having grown up in New Delhi, India, Kapur offers another distinct lens: he understands the cultural differences in the ways people around the world think about their relationships with technology. Kapur’s early and impressive resume of inventions further prove his desire to advance technology while strengthening the human condition and augmenting our cognition. He’s worked on a lunar rover that will land on the moon in 2021, invented a 3D printable drone, experimented with measuring gene expressions at large scale and developed an audio device that helps narrate the world for the visually impaired.
Kapur’s extensive portfolio of research and invention has been by high-profile media outlets, including the Smithsonian, MIT Technology Review, New Scientist, The Guardian and Forbes, among others. He and his work have also been honored with the Fast Company Innovation by Design Award, the World Technology Award, Disrupt 100 and the FF Rising Star Award, in addition to numerous other coveted recognitions. Kapur has also exhibited art installations at the Tate Modern, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, alt-AI and QUT Brisbane.
Arnav Kapur is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.