Mens, Manus and Machina

A new interdisciplinary research group, launched by the Singapore MIT-Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), aims to tackle key social and institutional challenges around the rise of AI and new technologies, furthering advances in these fields to create impactful value for Singapore and the world beyond. In line with Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative and the National AI Strategy, and as part of SMART's commitment to foster collaborative research in Singapore that generates positive impact for society, Mens, Manus and Machina - How AI Empowers People, Institutions and the City in Singapore (M3S) will embark on a five year endeavour supported by a multi-million-dollar grant from the National Research Foundation (NRF).   

Bringing together a diverse team of 17 professors from MIT and Singapore, M3S will draw expertise from local researchers from Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology and Design, the National University of Singapore, and the National Robotics Programme.  

Singapore’s integration of AI, automation, and robotics has been facilitated by strategic use of data analytics, IoT technologies, and smart infrastructure. Amid the rise of AI and machine learning, M3S will contribute to Singapore's AI ecosystem by focusing on the human-machine relationship, enhancing existing AI initiatives in the citystate.  Mens, Manus and Machina (M3S) - inspired by MIT’s motto of mens et manus (mind and hand) - reflects the research group’s ideals to promote AI and machine use for practical application; technologies that are extensions of humans and augment their lives. M3S integrates research into robotics and A.I. with human capital development, economic growth, and public acceptability - an intersectional approach to the ongoing transformation of how we work and live.
This interdisciplinary approach encompasses tackling key issues such as physical and digital interfaces between humans and machines, machine learning fundamentals, and understanding the implications of AI for human and social capital development. Other issues of focus include work on structuring human-machine teams within organisations and the developing dynamics between humans and machines in resource allocation and manpower (as well as machine-power) management.  

The research conducted will significantly advance the fields of soft robotics, brain interfaces, learning algorithms, task allocation, team formation, model compression, sustainable technology, technology acceptability in the workplace, social acceptability of robotics and AI, and more. The work at M3S will explore the intricate interplay between human capabilities, emerging technologies, and societal structures, paving the way for designing inclusive, resilient, and innovative solutions that empower individuals, institutions, and cities in Singapore. 

Since its inception in Singapore in 2007, SMART has pioneered innovations that have transformed and are transforming a multitude of fields such as autonomous driving, agriculture, microelectronics, cell therapy, mechanics and microfluidics platforms for biology and medical diagnostics, and antimicrobial resistance.  

“As a species, humans have spent eons learning how to work effectively with each other but, at the scale of human history, we are still neophytes to computation and automation,” said Professor Jinhua Zhao, Professor at MIT and Lead Principal Investigator at SMART M3S. “We focus on two questions at M3S: How will we design AI and Robotics technologies and train humans to build the skills and habits necessary for success in a robotics-heavy work environment? How will we adapt our social and business institutions to create the incentives and protections necessary to drive innovation and social welfare?”  

SMART M3S is helmed by Lead Principal Investigator (PI) Professor Zhao and Co-lead PIs MIT Professor Daniela Rus and SMU Professor Archan Misra.  

Seeking to redefine the boundaries of AI, automation, and robotics through interdisciplinary research, knowledge sharing, and impactful collaborations, SMART M3S aims to design inclusive, resilient, and innovative solutions that empower individuals, institutions, and cities. By exploring the intricate relationship between human capabilities, emerging technologies, and societal structures, it is envisioned that SMART M3S will drive scientific, societal, and commercial impact in Singapore and beyond.

SMART is hiring a number of positions, seeking talent passionate about AI, innovation, and cities. Positions include:

See a complete list of open SMART positions.