MIT Sloan CrowdChat: “Second Machine Age” chat with Andrew McAfee

Andrew McAfee, Co-Director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy

Andrew McAfee, MIT Sloan ’88, ’89, LGO ’90 and Co-Director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy, fielded questions in a one-hour AMA-style (ask me anything) Q&A on the “Second Machine Age.” The online conversation was co-hosted by the upcoming Digital Economy Conference in London, where he and Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT Sloan will facilitate a series of discussions that highlight MIT’s role in both understanding and shaping our increasingly digital economy. The conference will be Live Streamed beginning at 6:30 am to 1 pm EDT, Friday, April 10. To watch be sure to bookmark this page.   Read More »

Why are executives logging in for leadership education? — Peter Hirst

MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst

MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst

From Innovation Insights

Back in 2012, a storm poised to wreak havoc on the east coast posed a challenge of another kind to both me and my colleagues at MIT Sloan Executive Education. Though there were of course the more grave concerns of human health and safety related to Hurricane Sandy, directly in the path of the oncoming storm was our brand new and hotly-anticipated course on big data, one of the first of its kind for executives.

Over 100 top executives had enrolled in the course, conducted by leading faculty members Erik Brynjolfsson and Sandy Pentland, and we were faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. The challenge was clear – find a way for attendees to experience the course in spite of the storm, or postpone and potentially cancel it altogether. Innovation is woven into our DNA at MIT, and we developed a solution that not only suited the needs of the situation, but led Executive Education at MIT Sloan down a new and exciting path to learning.

Read More »

Google and the right to be forgotten — Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Assoc. Prof. Catherine Tucker

From Nikkei Business

The European Court of Justice’s ruling that Google must honor individuals’ requests to be removed from search results—the right to be forgotten, as it has come to be known—is a misguided attempt to address one of the more unfortunate aspects of the digital age.

Although digital technology has brought many wondrous advances, it also has spawned problems. Among the most serious is what I call digital persistence or the tendency of information in digital format to last for a very long time—regardless of its accuracy.

In the analog era, if a telephone directory listed a number incorrectly, the result would be missed calls and wrong numbers until a new directory was published a year later. But in the digital world, wrong information gets repeated again and again, often showing up long after the original mistake was made.

While digital technology can perpetuate the mistakes others make about us, it also has the same effect on the mistakes we make ourselves. For example, young people by nature do silly things. Sometimes they take digital photos of themselves doing these silly things. The pictures can resurface years or decades later, when the actions no longer seem so amusing.

An approach that addresses these problems by targeting Google is flawed in several respects. First, while Google may be a handy scapegoat, especially in Europe, the American search giant is far from the only source of digital data that threatens the right to be forgotten. Information persists also in government records, online newspapers, and social media, as well as other search engines. To rein in Google while leaving other major information sources unimpeded will have little effect on the overall problem.

Second, the European Court of Justice’s actions ignore the nature of search engines. They work so well because they are automated. The combination of sophisticated algorithms, high-speed networks, and the Internet’s vast stores of data is what produces Google’s instantaneous and usually on target results. Introduce humans into this formula via requests to be forgotten and Google’s performance will slow to a crawl.

A third problem with the ECJ’s approach is that the process of approving requests to be forgotten can have precisely the opposite effect of what the architects of the policy intended. When someone asks to be removed from search results—say, a politician concerned about rumors of an illicit affair—the request itself sparks interest. In the case of the politician combating damaging rumors, reports of a request to be forgotten prompt new speculation and more rumors, even if the politician isn’t mentioned by name.

Digital persistence unfortunately is a problem that will be with us for some time. There are no quick or easy answers. Aiming at one very big target may be a popular move, but it will not bring us any closer to resolution.

Catherine Tucker is the Mark Hyman Jr. Career Development Professor and Associate Professor of Management Science at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

To Manage a Successful Sports Team, Focus on Data — Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

From Xconomy

The mantra of youth sports where “everyone gets a trophy” is permeating professional leagues. These days every team can claim some semblance of winning. In the bygone era of the NFL, two teams made the playoffs and that consisted of one game, the Super Bowl. Today six teams from each conference advance, and there is talk of adding more. In MLB, it used to be that the league leaders won the pennant and then went to the World Series; now, five teams in each league make the playoffs. In the NBA and the NHL, meanwhile, more than half of all teams make the post-season.

As the definition of post-season success broadens and winning becomes a commodity, a team’s performance isn’t enough to stand out in the $750 billion sports industry. And at a time where traditional revenue streams are under pressure and the competition for money, media, and sponsors remains stiff, sports organizations have to be more innovative.

So, what should they be doing to drive revenue? How can they use technology to attract and interact with fans? And, in the Age of Big Data, what’s the best use of analytics to increase ticket sales? These are some of the questions on the table at the 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

Read More »

Here’s what Seattle looks like to some MBA students on a high-tech field trip — Lakshmi Kannan

Lakshmi Kannan, MIT Sloan MBA '16

Lakshmi Kannan, MIT Sloan MBA ’16

From Daily Journal of Commerce

I recently joined 25 of my MIT classmates on an MIT Sloan Technology Trek to Seattle.

Technology is a hot area at MIT Sloan — 26 percent of the graduating class last year went into high technology jobs — so technology treks are very popular.

They are an important tool for students to learn about company cultures. However, we’re not just looking at how many hours we’ll work or how comfortable the lifestyle is. We want to feel like we’re making an impact on others in real ways, and we want to know that our MBA education is truly adding value at the organization.

Treks are a unique opportunity to ask questions and learn from employees, who are frequently alumni.

In addition to learning more about the roles of MBA grads, I also wanted to see if I could deal with Seattle’s climate. Growing up in India and living in New England for the last nine years, I knew that the Northwest would be quite different.

Read More »