Research Project

Sustainable Digital Ecology

Professor Alex Pentland


In this era, Big Data comes with the fear that the economic environment will be dominated by those with the biggest computers and most access to consumer personal data.

This is not just an worry of economics: the scandal surrounding the US National Security Agency demonstrates that similar dangers exist within governments. Moreover, an ecology with such winner-take-all dynamics is likely to be volatile and unstable. This project, headed by Sandy Pentland, investigates alternate architectures for a digital ecology that might prove more sustainable. For example, is it viable to move from completely open market mechanisms to cooperative exchange network mechanisms, like the SWIFT interbank exchange network or the Hawala networks in the Middle East?