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3 Views of the Economic Impact of Digital Disruption

April 20, 2015

Erik Brynjolfsson: Second Machine Age Economics

Leading the discussion, IDE Director and MIT Sloan Professor Erik Brynjolfsson, told attendees about the dramatic advancements in robotics in the past few years—in dexterity, language and problem-solving, for example– and how businesses can take advantage of these opportunities. He also offered insights about what skills humans will need to hone in a future where we will work alongside of robots and machines for improved medical diagnostics, factory output and data analytics. At the same time, he noted that there will be groups of people that may be left behind when technology zooms ahead of organizational structures, cultures and regulations, and how to address some of these inequities.

Eriks’ presentation can be viewed in full below or on YouTube here.



Roberto Rigobon: Tracking Consumer Trends

It’s easy to collect data, but much harder to create accurate and actionable information based on that data. MIT Sloan professor Roberto Rigobon and his research team have spent years demonstrating that big data collection can reveal macroeconomic trends for individual countries or larger global regions. At the IDE conference he explained how The Billion Prices Project collects online retail data on hundreds of items to more accurately determine inflation rates that will help set public policies. His latest research offers new ways to measure consumer purchasing power around the world using McDonald’s Big Mac as an international standard.

What’s next? Rigobon hopes to quantify the economic impact on retail sales and supplies in the face of natural disasters, labor market changes and digital economy disruptions. View his full keynote presentation here. Additional background on his work can also be found here.


Marshall Van Alstyne: Platforms Beat Products

MIT researcher Marshall Van Alstyne spoke about the dramatic shifts taking place in worldwide economies as a result of platforms and new business models. Every industry from—taxis to food services to video games—is transforming as a result of communities of users and ecosystems that are beating out traditional customer/supplier models. Marshall’s presentation can be viewed here and more background on his work can be found on here and on our Platform Economics page here.