MAS.S63 (2-0-7) Cognitive Augmentation 

Instructor: Pattie Maes
TAs: Neo Mohsenvand ( and Adam Haar Horowitz (

Fall’17. Fridays 1-3pm


Computers and smartphones are generally considered tools that enhance productivity. But while they have put the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, people need additional skills in order to be successful and realize their goals. This class will explore how future personal digital devices could help us with issues such as attention, motivation, self-confidence, memory, and emotional regulation. We will read relevant literature from Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Psychology, and Human-Computer Interaction to inform the design of wearable and immersive systems that in subtle ways can help people strengthen some of the “soft skills” they may lack and that may hamper their personal growth and success. Our devices these days are with us 24 x 7 and have access to a growing array of real-time data about our context, behavior, body and mind. They can run powerful algorithms that analyze this data to form models and predictions. They also offer a convenient platform for real-time interventions that may help users develop some of the soft skills that are so crucial in accomplishing personal goals. We will primarily focus our designs on users who have more severe problems with memory, attention and emotional regulation, but anticipate that the solutions we develop will benefit the general user as well, as all of us are affected by these problems to some degree. We will discuss and be mindful of issues that come up in designing such highly personal and intimate augmentation systems, such as avoiding dependence and guaranteeing privacy and control, and will aim to design systems that render themselves obsolete over time whenever possible. Students will be asked to read and review papers, make presentations in class, come up with several novel design concepts and finally develop and implement one larger scale project. The class will be limited to 16 highly motivated students. Candidates should fill out this form by Wednesday 9/6 latest if interested:

Current students of the class