February 21, 2020

Director of M.I.T. Media Lab Apologizes for Ties to Jeffrey Epstein

In his statement, Mr. Ito said he took “full responsibility for my error in judgment,” adding, “I am deeply sorry to the survivors, to the Media Lab and to the M.I.T. community for bringing such a person into our network.”

He pledged to raise the same amount of money M.I.T. had accepted from Mr. Epstein and donate it “to nonprofits that focus on supporting survivors of trafficking.” Mr. Ito added, “I will also return the money that Epstein has invested in my investment funds.”

Mr. Ito did not disclose the amounts. He and M.I.T. declined to comment beyond his statement.

After Mr. Epstein served a 13-month sentence in the Palm Beach County Jail in Florida, he tried to rebuild his reputation, cultivating connections with elite academics while portraying himself to Wall Street and the news media as a philanthropist who backed cutting-edge science.

His interests often veered toward fringe concepts, such as cryonics and transhumanism, which critics have described as modern-day version of eugenics. Scientists continued to associate with him, sometimes attending dinner parties at his mansion in Manhattan or making visits to his private Caribbean island. The geneticist George Church, whose Harvard University lab accepted money from Mr. Epstein more than a decade ago, apologized this month for his “poor awareness and judgment” in an interview with the health-focused news website STAT.

The M.I.T. Media Lab started in 1985 as a research center devoted to advances in a wide variety of disciplines, including digital technology, robotics and neurobiology. It has an annual operating budget of $80 million, according to its website, much of it provided by “member” organizations. The companies listed on its website include Comcast, Exxon, Google, Nike, PepsiCo and Salesforce, among many others. Mr. Ito was named the lab’s director in 2011.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/16/business/media/ito-mit-epstein-apology.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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