The value of negative citations — Christian Catalini

MIT Sloan Professor Christian Catalini

MIT Sloan Professor Christian Catalini

From Research

Understanding which papers attract critical citations, and what effect they have, gives an insight into how science progresses, says Christian Catalini.

Science advances through researchers sharing their work for others to extend or improve. As Isaac Newton once said, he could see further by “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

But what happens when those shoulders aren’t as sturdy as we thought? Sometimes, citations are negative, pointing out a study’s flaws or even disproving its findings. What role, relevance and impact do these negative citations have on a field as a whole?

There has been little research in this area, because of the difficulty in identifying and classifying such citations. Thanks to advancements in the ability of computers to understand human language, known as natural-language processing, and in the ability to sort and analyse large bodies of text, this is changing. We can now identify such citations and reconstruct the context in which they were made to understand the author’s intentions better. Using such techniques, my colleagues and I have found evidence to suggest that negative citations play an important role in the advancement of science.

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The road to safe, secure driverless cars — Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

From Xconomy

The development of autonomous vehicles promises a future of safe and efficient roads, unimpeded by distracted, impaired, aggressive, or deliberately speeding drivers. But to achieve this, the companies involved in developing driverless cars will have to navigate significant obstacles.

The transition from personally controlled to automated vehicles can be likened to the shift that occurred over the past 20 years from brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce. For traditional storeowners, security depended on door locks, alarm systems, cameras, and access to cash registers. For online retailers, security has to do with networks and software.

Similarly, the safety focus in driverless vehicles will be largely about securing the networks and software that drive the cars. Today’s cars have approximately 100 million lines of code in them. Autonomous cars will have many times more. The companies that manufacture driverless cars will have to actively manage all of the security aspects of the vehicles’ software.

Today’s carmakers have, over time, developed efficient procedures for recalling and fixing vehicles with parts identified as faulty or unsafe. Similarly, with autonomous vehicles, manufacturers will need to devise methods of identifying and fixing problems discovered in software. In many cases, repairs can be done remotely, in the same way that mobile phone and computer makers can send patches over networks. But however fixes are made, management of software supply chains will need to be as efficient as the management of the supply chains for physical parts.

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Umbrage against the machine — The return of humans — Paul English

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Paul English

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Paul English

From Re/code

As humans, we crave contact with one another. From tiny newborn babies who need their mothers, to the elderly who long for their children, throughout all stages of our lives, we reach for each other. It’s always been this way. Technology can’t replace the very thing that makes us human.

Many years ago, I was left to care for my dad, who had early-stage Alzheimer’s. One of the first things I had to do was take away his car, as his driving had become dangerous. This was difficult. My Dad was a “car guy,” and he had taught me everything I know about cars — it was a love we shared together. Taking away his car left him incredibly isolated; he would try to call his friends during the day, only to be confused by answering machines that sounded like humans. Sometimes, Dad would even call companies who sent him bills, claiming he had questions, but really, I think he just wanted to reach out to another person. Again, he was foiled by the machines who told him to press 1 for this, and press 2 for that, always finding ways to keep him from connecting with an actual human.

As a response to this, I started GetHuman, a website that allows customers to call real people at big companies without having to wait on the line or go through a million robots. Today, GetHuman.com receives millions of visitors a month, helping people with customer service issues at places like Verizon and Comcast.

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MIT Sloan trek shows MBA students opportunities to work in policy — Valerio Riavez

MIT Sloan Student Valerio Riavez

MIT Sloan Student Valerio Riavez

If you’re interested in policy work at an institution like the World Bank, the Federal Reserve, or the IMF, a PhD is required. At least that’s what MBA students have long thought. However, a recent MIT Sloan career trek to Washington, D.C. revealed that this is no longer the case.

As these institutions don’t typically participate in on-campus recruiting, it can be challenging for business school students to learn about policy jobs. That’s why the MIT Sloan Finance and Policy Club organized a trek for 25 students to Washington, D.C. We wanted to learn more about job options for MBA and Master of Finance (MFin) students, make connections, and get a glimpse of what living in D.C. is like.

We began the trek at the World Bank Group. Most MBAs are familiar with the IFC, which is the private sector development arm of the WB and an active recruiter of business students. However, during this visit we learned that the World Bank Group is also increasingly hiring people without PhDs. The World Bank has an elite program called the Young Professionals Program (YPP) through which it hires and forms the next generation of WB leaders. We were particularly surprised to learn that the majority of YPP hires actually do not have a PhD.

In the afternoon, we headed over to the Federal Reserve where we visited the boardroom and participated in a Q&A session with a senior economist. We sat around the very table where Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke, and Alan Greenspan made some of the most significant monetary decisions in the history of global economics. For a policy fan, I must admit it was pretty cool.

A takeaway at the Fed was that jobs are mostly reserved for U.S. citizens. Foreign students are generally ruled out unless they are transferred from another central bank through an exchange program. There is a fierce screening process for all jobs at the Fed because it is a central bank and its activities are at the core of national interests.

We also learned how after the financial crisis, the Fed began looking more to private-sector practitioners to work on unconventional monetary policy endeavors to get the economy back on track. When central banks had to design and implement their quantitative easing, they had to rethink how to intervene in financial markets. To do that, they brought in people with experience in the private sector and exposure to financial markets. For students interested in finance at a policy institution, that is an untapped recruiting resource.

In addition to that good news, we saw that this trend seems to extend to other central banks and financial policy institutions, which are increasingly interested in people with business acumen – meaning a PhD is not always required. The governors of central banks still have PhDs, but the world is changing and private sector experience and exposure to financial markets today are crucial for these institutions. As a result, departments involved in quantitative easing are increasingly comprised of MBAs.

We ended our trek with visits to many landmarks in Washington, D.C., including the Library of Congress, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Kennedy Center. On our final night, we visited the Saudi ambassador’s home where we enjoyed a traditional Saudi reception and a great discussion about the economy in the Middle East with the ambassador and members of the Washington diplomatic community.

As most of us are still exploring opportunities for after graduation, meeting with MIT alumni in D.C. also helped us have a better grasp of what life is like in the city. After seeing all of the great policy opportunities available to MBA graduates and touring the city, it’s definitely a place to keep on the radar.

Valerio Riavez is a native of Italy and dual degree student at MIT Sloan and the Harvard Kennedy School. He holds a Master’s Degree in economics and previously worked in both the public and private sector in finance. He is co-president of the MIT Sloan Finance and Policy Club.

$1 million to create a more inclusive, productive, and sustainable future for all — Devin Cook

Devin Cook, Executive Producer of the MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition

Devin Cook, Executive Producer of the MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition

From Forbes

Two years ago, in their groundbreaking book The Second Machine Age, Professor Erik Brynjolfsson, Director, and Andrew McAfee, Co-director, of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, described digital technology’s transformative effect on business, the economy, and society.  With productivity, wealth, and profits at historic highs, digital innovation has created unprecedented bounty for a great number of people. However, not all people have shared equally in this prosperity. In economic terms, overall GDP is growing but median incomes since 1999 have actually fallen. While technology has created greater wealth for society and for innovators at an unprecedented pace, changes in our economy are actually leaving many people — especially middle- and base-level earners — worse off.

This is the great economic paradox of our time, yet at the Initiative on the Digital Economy, we know this disparity will not define our future. Rather we are technology optimists, and we believe that the future of work can be better for all. However, we cannot ensure that people will enjoy prosperous working lives, if we just stand by and watch these trends unfold. Thus to celebrate, support, and inspire solutions to this challenge, the MIT IDE launched the Inclusive Innovation Competition (IIC). We will award a total of $1 million in prizes to the world’s most inventive organizations that are enabling more people to fully experience the prosperity of the Second Machine Age.

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