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Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland

Building a Distributed Economy Research Group Lead

Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland leads the Data-Driven Societies research group at the IDE.

He also directs MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, co-leads the World Economic Forum Big Data and Personal Data initiatives, and is a founding member of the Advisory Boards for Nissan, Motorola Mobility, Telefonica, and a variety of start-up firms. He is also on the United Nations Secretary General’s advisory board on Data for Sustainable Development. He 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. In 2012, Forbes named Professor Pentland one of the ‘seven most powerful data scientists in the world.’

In 2013 he won the McKinsey Award from Harvard Business Review. He is among the most-cited computational scientists in the world, and a pioneer in computational social science, organizational engineering, wearable computing ( Google Glass), image understanding, and modern biometrics. His research has been featured in Nature, Science, and Harvard Business Review and has been the focus of multiple TV features. His most recent book is Honest Signals, published by MIT Press. Over the years Pentland has advised more than 50 PhD students. Almost half are now tenured faculty at leading institutions, with another one-quarter leading industry research groups and a final quarter founders of their own companies. Pentland’s research group and entrepreneurship program have spun off more than 30 companies to date, three of which are publicly listed and several of which serve millions of poor in Africa and South Asia.

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