Marko B Popovic = lively, authentic and free human being. What defines me? No one completely knows … but why should you care? Don't you have something else to do?
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Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Friday, January 01, 2010

Dear CSAIL-ers,

Happy New Year 2010!

So if you ever wondered ″what does CSAIL stand for″ …

Well, for me the word CSAIL simply means an abbreviation for the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab; i.e. it does not have any deeper, higher, worse or better semantic meaning than that. I also considered a few other less attractive words, like AICSL, LAICS etc. Eventually I gave the name, i.e. proposed (officially first :) ) the lab′s current name during an open call for the ″new″ lab′s name. :) = it didn′t cost me a dime and sometimes folks give millions for such honor

Majority liked it, maybe because it can be ″split″ to C, e.g. from Champion *, and SAIL, which matches the Charles River sailing tradition. And if anyone thought that this is riddle or maybe poetic metaphor… now you know = no mystery & maybe just little bit of poetry…

Regarding riddles, it is always more prudent to focus on real problems, i.e. things that are really important. And regarding poetry...that is great but one should be definitively careful with its extended use and various interpretations. For example, CSAIL (I believe and hope) is surely not standing or will ever stand for any type of Internet (and other) phishing and/or any other criminal activity. : ) (see VERY IMPORTANT note on the MIT Center for Advanced Internet Studies and another note on safeguarding privacy / rights / freedoms)

For me the CSAIL′s true treasure is not its name, logo, STATA building space, colors / sounds and various ambient / wearable symbols sprinkled here and there etc. The CSAIL′s true treasure is you, authentic human beings and results of your work! And beyond any doubt… it is you who define what CSAIL stands for!

You have the opportunity and ability to do something good for yourself and for many other folks. You could change the world and truly benefit society by using your knowledge, wit and originality. I trust that you will do many great things!

Good luck! **

Marko B Popovic, PhD

(in the first/middle/last name of Marko Berislav Popovic)

(for footnotes * and ** see this web page bottom lines)

MIT Center for Advanced Internet Studies

I recently proposed the formation of the MIT Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and to group of about 40 MIT principal investigators (PIs). The goal of initiative is to connect you and many other researchers across the MIT campus in envisioning and creating a new generation Internet that would create a paradigm shift and truly benefit society.

To learn more about this unofficial, informal and not yet MIT endorsed initiative you may visit my presentation at the Summit Conference on Future Networks held at MIT on Oct 2, 2009 and read excerpts from my letters to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and to the MIT group.

NSF showed a substantial interest and majority of the MIT PIs that I communicated with expressed warm support; however no one yet showed a true leadership...not surprising because a true leadership requires a lot of wisdom, guts, responsability, self-confidence and energy. There were also a few who were against and tried to sabotage any dialogue which, I believe, is clearly not in interest of MIT & society on the local, national and global level. Anyhow, I am very happy that I was able to send these ideas across ″ether″. I did what I believe is right and I surely have no remorse.

What should be the next steps? Well, while it is not in my authority or optimal competence to lead this initiative, it is in my authority to express my opinion (as guaranteed by the freedom of speech / thought in this country). So…quite generally, if you are in support of an idea, be persistent, improve it and propose it again, cross your fingers for luck and try to make it happens. Simple or complex as that! And it should be about your good future and good future of many other folks (e.g. 1.8 billion Internet users on this planet)!

I proposed the MIT Center for Advanced Internet Studies not just to provide prerequisite for you to start studying, envisioning and creating that new generation Internet ″trust backbone″ but also to start building an entire world on top of it. A new generation Internet based space, useful in so many different aspects that will give us (i.e. ordinary folks :) ) opportunity to move (i.e. browse), create, interact and collaborate among each other in never before imagined ways while we all feel very comfortable and happy about that.

Another note on safeguarding privacy and other fundamental rights / freedoms

Please do not hack or use other people private spaces without their permission because that is typically evil thing to do! I personally experienced an immense disaster in both professional and private life in 2005 (it is almost miracle that I was able to recover), mainly because someone hacked my private belongings and my private space. And no one should experience that…Question is: How many of you experienced something similar?

I hope that we will soon witness birth of serious institutions (on the state, federal and maybe global level) that will protect everyone′s basic freedoms / rights and turn cyber space into civilized and protected space. Why? Well we cannot afford to treat Internet space as unimportant anymore. It is definitively very real space and integral part of life for almost 2 billion folks on this planet. Just ask yourself how many hours you spend on the Internet each day?

As well known, more than 75% of the US is actively using Internet and almost one trillion US dollars is circulating through the US online networks each day. Internet is deeply embedded into every aspect and very essence of life and work in this country and therefore represents a serious matter of national importance.

If there are those who still believe that chaotic internet, wild wild west or jungle is OK. I must respond that you have no clue what′s out there both in terms of content and security threat. Regarding content...just the fact that many primary schools in Massachusetts recently decided to forbid use of any electronic gadget and unguarded Internet use on its property should turn your bulb on right now. What's the point of all effort, science and engineering, when effective result of your work is not considered good for kids?! Regarding security threat ...well, when someone hacks your cyber space you could end up effectively enslaved...that's also possible by other means, but Internet unfortunately provides the cheapest and the most efficient way. These criminal activities could affect every aspect of your life. In the "real" life we usually refer to these horrors as voyeurism, harassment, robbery, kidnapping, enslaving, suicide etc.

If you believe in a human good nature and your own lucky destiny, well that's great, I am believer and dreamer too...however, I also lived part of 90-ties in Balkans and witnessed what ″human″ creatures could do to other ″human″ creatures; without basic civilization laws, principles, justice things may spiral very much out of control. And ″human″ creatures unfortunately exist everywhere… It is also true that there needs to be many safe ways to protect ordinary people from the government based evil doings. In that context a lot seems to be about a well thought good balance. In any case more constructive interdisciplinary and inter( many-other-things ) brainstorming and dialogue is necessary to address all these topics. Are you aware of any other approach?

PS On a bit brighter side here are a few funny CSAIL name divisions:


A top Google suggestion for ″CS″ is Credit Suisse Group AG (ADR)-Google Finance. This suggests that Credit Suisse Report ails ″someone/something″ which is really funny thought in a given context :). Another Google-based popular word is ″CSI Miami″; ugh! Finally the most obvious Google-less construct is the ″Computer Science pain″ which is seriously ill thought in a given context.


A top Google suggestion for ″c″ is speed of light and top suggestion for ″C″ is C: Summary for CITIGROUP INC- Yahoo! Finance. Later doesn′t create any meaningful assembly but former may lead to the ″speed of light sail″... Thanks, but our physical reality is built upon both massless and massive particles propagating with various speeds (we are not just boring massless photons/gluons/neutrinos flying with a speed of light :), and clearly the message content, sender, recipient are often more important than the speed or mean by which the message is transferred.

Another Google-based popular word is ″Craigslist″ which can be connected to CSAIL but this is a clearly inappropriate descriptor in a given context.

If you pray to even brighter Google-less linguistic God(s) you might realize that there are many other great words starting with C... My favorite word in a given context is ″Champion″ because it suggests ″Champion SAIL″ and it fits well with a local Charles River sailing tradition; but please don′t connect it to my mural painting. Please don′t dip it to old Latin either: ″Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse″ because it is a bit ill thought in a given context...especially the second part.

As far as the symbols go...C may be thought to represent half-moon, half-circle (Pi=3.14...), lucky horseshoe etc but these are all not that meaningful in a given context especially because they strongly depend on a publishing font.

And after some thought I started liking idea that C could symbolize Cрбиja in Cyrillic. After all CSAIL is located in STATA Center and STATA could be nicely split to S (e.g. Super, Sexy, Smart, and unfortunately Single Serbian) TATA (father in Serbian). If you are gorgeous lookin', smart and good person, single female please go ahead and check my profile on OKcupid : )

I probably missed something but who cares. Economy is still tough so we should all focus on something better than riddling around. And start helping and not harassing each other.

*or e.g. from Cрбиja in Cyrillic; but that is just for me... I am Serbian, right? When I get a chance I will write an article about Serbian nation, its spirit, history and "great" 90-ies (sarcasm).

Disclaimer, I am not representative of / possessed by : ) any (″brrr cold″) religious, government, corporate, academic, nationalistic, communist, mafia, terroristic, military, media / sports / entertainment, telepathic, extraterrestrial, big brother, semi god, rock n roll colorfull / colorless overt / secret organization / sect / cult / order / group / band / choir / club / team / individual / Walt Disney character and what not. I am just an ordinary, currently unemployed guy who is proud Dad!

**I′ll use this opportunity to wish you several nice things:

- I wish you to be champions in all your professional endeavors
- I wish you to have passion for your work and to enjoy in both hard labor and its results
- I wish you to realize your responsibilities and potentials
- I wish you to be able to wisely differentiate between good and evil and do good things
- I wish you to have a clear conscience at the end of the day -- as well as after many years
- I wish you to be creative thinkers, to have broad and not narrow minded understanding of our world
- I wish you to have excellent colleagues, family members, friends and even enemies
- I wish you to be free and beautiful (and inner beauty is sometimes more important)
- I wish you not to be ashamed of being you, authentic human being, and not to be stressed too much
- I wish you health, happiness, success and lots of love, and life within and outside the lab!
- I will add more later…: ) (and please don′t confuse this with some biblical or other stuff, see Disclaimer above)