Odds are good that no one at yesterday's "Computing the Future" symposium at MIT, organized to mark the 50th anniversary of computer science and artificial intelligence research at the school, imagined they'd be watching a black-and-white video clip of Julia Child deftly slicing potatoes. But Matt Mason of Carnegie Mellon University showed it to make a point: technology is still far behind humans when it comes to perceiving and interacting with the world. Mason and other speakers who focused on the robotics field emphasized how many problems remain to be solved. Perhaps the biggest laugh of yesterday morning's session came during another video clip, when the AlphaDog robot from Boston Dynamics, above, was pushed by an employee trying to test its stability — and promptly rolled over and smashed into a parked car. "That's the new guy's car," another employee noted.
Read MoreMore startup supportNew Fintech Sandbox program will supply fuel for financial startups
A cadre of large financial services and technology firms have been working for more than a year on a new program called the Fintech Sandbox that aims to support early-stage financial services startups in Boston and elsewhere. Key players behind the program include Fidelity Investments, Thomson Reuters, Amazon.com, the venture capital firm .406 Ventures, and startup BuysideFX. Sandbox supervisor Rocky Weitz, formerly CEO and co-founder of the Boston startup CargoMetrics, says the plan is to have it up and running later this year.
These are boom times for the innovation economy in Boston and Cambridge. Venture capital firms and big companies are moving from the suburbs to scout deals and reel in young talent. Wannabe entrepreneurs are ditching stable jobs to go the startup route.
Read MoreCutting through the noiseVideo messaging startup Vsnap adds $1 million in funding
Without making a splashy announcement, Autodesk started inviting startups to shack up at its Waltham facility last month. There are about 20 desks dedicated to what the company calls its STIR program, for Startups-In-Residence. And the maker of engineering and design software has already filled about half that space with three fledgling companies, according to Autodesk senior director Rick Rundell, and there are plans to bring in several more over the summer.
Read MoreKayak crew's next trickFirst look: Blade Network, a supercollider for Boston's startup scene
The big opening party for Paul English's Blade Network startup space is tomorrow night, and when I dropped by on Monday morning, construction crews were scrambling to get everything finished. English, the co-founder and former chief technology officer at Kayak, wants it to become a supercollider for consumer tech, art, and music in Boston. And in terms of designing a dazzling environment, he's definitely aiming high.
Do you want your doctor to diagnose an ailment by Googling?
A new medical search engine called Parzival is taking the wraps off this week, aiming to guide doctors and medical researchers to the most reliable sources when they're hunting for information about diseases and treatments.
Read MoreLighting up lessCan Quitbit's smart lighter help you drop the habit?
A startup called Quitbit is launching a crowdfunding campaign today for a $150 cigarette lighter — early purchasers can get one for $70 — that can count how many times you've used it today, and relay the data to your smartphone. Quitbit's app lets you set goals for how many cigarettes you'd like to allow yourself, and share how you're doing with a group of friends on Facebook or Twitter. Quitbit hopes to start shipping its product by the end of this year.
Read MoreGrowing painsTech startups in the hinterlands cope with hiring challenges
How do you grow a tech company when you're headquartered far from the talent hub of Greater Boston?
Companies in places like Manchester, N.H., and Woodstock, Vt., are facing that quandary, after they've scooped up all the software developers they can find in those markets.
Read MoreScenes from another centuryAre we on the bubble?
NEW YORK — I was walking around an expo touted as the “world’s largest startup event” last month, when I started to have flashbacks to the late 1990s. At New York TechDay, there were so many booths staffed by so many eager entrepreneurs pitching so many ideas that only needed a few million bucks and a few million users to become a real business.
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and the Convergence Forum. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.