With Big Data we can now begin to actually look at the details of social interaction and how those play out, and are no longer limited to averages like market indices or election results. This is an astounding change. The ability to see the details of the market, of political revolutions, and to be able to predict and control them is definitely a case of Promethean fire —- it could be used for good or for ill, and so Big data brings us to interesting times. We’re going to end up reinventing what it means to have a human society.
ALEX ‘SANDY’ PENTLAND is a pioneer in big data, computational social science, mobile and health systems, and technology for developing countries. He is one of the most-cited computer scientists in the world and was named by Forbes as one of the world’s seven most powerful data scientists.
He currently directs the MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, and advises the World Economic Forum, Nissan Motor Corporation, and a variety of start-up firms. He has previously helped create and direct MIT’s Media Laboratory, the Media Lab Asia laboratories at the Indian Institutes of Technology, and Strong Hospital’s Center for Future Health.
He has won numerous international awards in the Arts, Sciences and Engineering. He was chosen by Newsweek as one of the 100 Americans most likely to shape this century, and by Forbes as one of the world’s seven most powerful data scientists.