The Envisioning the Future of Computing Prize invited MIT undergraduate and graduate students to share their ideas, aspirations, and vision for what they think a future propelled by advancements in computing holds.
Offered for the first time this year, the Institute-wide essay competition attracted nearly 60 submissions from students, including those majoring in mathematics, philosophy, electrical engineering and computer science, brain and cognitive sciences, chemical engineering, urban studies and planning, and management.

The contest implemented a two-stage evaluation process wherein all essays were reviewed anonymously by a panel of faculty members from the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing and School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences for the initial round. Three qualifiers were then invited to present their entries at an awards ceremony on May 8 followed by a Q&A with a judging panel and live in-person audience for the final round.
The grand prize of $10,000 was awarded to Robert Cunningham, a senior majoring in math and physics, for his paper, “Tokens from Tomorrow,” on the implications of a personalized language model that is fine tuned to predict an individual’s writing based on their past texts and emails. Told from the perspective of three fictional characters: Laura, founder of the tech startup ScribeAI, and Margaret and Vincent, a couple in college who are frequent users of the platform, readers gained insights into the societal shifts that take place and the unforeseen repercussions of the technology.

Two runners up, awarded $5,000 each, included Gabrielle Kaili-May Liu, a senior majoring in mathematics with computer science, and brain and cognitive sciences, and Abigail Thwaites and Eliot Matthew Watkins, a graduate student team from the Department of Philosophy and Linguistics. In addition, 12 students were recognized with honorable mentions for their entries, with each receiving $500.
Meet the winners and read their essays below.

Grand Prize Winner

Tokens from Tomorrow
by Robert Cunningham (Mathematics and Physics)

Runner Ups

Transforming Human Interactions with AI via Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback
by Gabrielle Kaili-May Liu (Mathematics with Computer Science; Brain and Cognitive Sciences)

The Future of Fact-Checking
by Abigail Thwaites (Philosophy) & Eliot Matthew Watkins (Philosophy)

Honorable Mentions

The Envisioning the Future of Computing Prize is presented by the Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing (SERC), a cross-cutting initiative within the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, in collaboration with the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.
Thank you to MAC3 Impact Philanthropies for their generous support of the prize this year.