Closer to a cure: a new approach to funding biomedical innovation — Andrew Lo

MIT Sloan Professor Andrew Lo

MIT Sloan Professor Andrew Lo

Watch Andrew Lo, the economist, hedge fund manager, and finance professor at MIT Sloan, discuss his idea to bring Wall Street-style financial engineering to solving one of the most pressing medical problems of our time: curing cancer and rare diseases. Professor Lo’s proposal—the creation of a “megafund” that invests in early-stage biomedical research and drug development —holds promise for new treatments and medicine to fight cancer and other diseases. Robert Langer, the noted entrepreneur, scientist, and Institute Professor at MIT, also appears on the program to talk about bringing investors on board..

Andrew W. Lo is the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering.

The jobs that AI can’t replace — Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

MIT Sloan’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

From BBC

Current advances in robots and other digital technologies are stirring up anxiety among workers and in the media. There is a great deal of fear, for example, that robots will not only destroy existing jobs, but also be better at most or all of the tasks required in the future.

Our research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has shown that that’s at best a half-truth. While it is true that robots are getting very good at a whole bunch of jobs and tasks, there are still many categories in which humans perform better.

And, perhaps more importantly, robots and other forms of automation can aid in the creation of new and better jobs for humans. As a result, while we do expect that some jobs will disappear, other jobs will be created and some existing jobs will become more valuable.

For example, machines are currently dominating the jobs in routine information processing. “Computer,” after all, used to be an actual job title of a person who sat and added long rows of numbers. Now it is, well, an actual computer.

On the other hand, jobs such as data scientist didn’t used to exist, but because computers have made enormous data sets analyzable, we now have new jobs for people to interpret these huge pools of information. In the tumult of our economy, even as old tasks get automated away, along with demand for their corresponding skills, the economy continues to create new jobs and industries.

Read the full post at the BBC.

The authors also appeared on the BBC’s “Panorama” for a segment titled “Could A Robot Do My Job.”  See the program here.

Erik Brynjolfsson is the Schussel Family Professor of Management Science, a Professor of Information Technology, and the Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy at the MIT Sloan School of Management. 

Andrew McAfee is the Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business.

Could a Baltimore happen in Chicago? — Robert McKersie

MIT Sloan Prof. Emeritus Robert B. McKersie

MIT Sloan Prof. Emeritus Robert B. McKersie

From The Huffington Post

Recently we have witnessed the unfortunate sequence of legitimate and responsible protest actions being hijacked by those who use the crowd effect of many marchers as a cover for their criminal activities of looting and burning. This same juxtaposition occurred 50 years ago this summer in Chicago and there are some lessons to be learned — so history does not need to repeat itself.

It was clear that Chicago was in for a long hot summer when on May 22, 1965 the board of education reappointed superintendent of schools, Benjamin Willis — and in so doing, violated assurances that leaders of the civil rights movement had received that Willis would retire. Nightly marches from Buckingham fountain to city hall and the board of education soon followed — in some cases marchers were arrested for blocking traffic. During the third weekend in July, Martin Luther King arrived in Chicago and led a march of more than one thousand participants.

By far the most noteworthy marches were those led each evening by the comedian, Dick Gregory. On August 1 and 2 his group decided to march to the home neighborhood of Mayor Daley. A crowd of over one thousand neighbors gathered and the police, in order to avoid a major confrontation, ordered the 50 marchers to leave or be arrested. Gregory and most of his followers were arrested.

Soon thereafter on August 12 riots broke out on the west side when an undermanned fire truck killed a black women. At the height of the riot a police car was sent to the headquarters of the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations to bring the convener and civil rights activist, Al Raby to the troubled streets.

While any riot is lamentable, by comparison to the turmoil that occurred in the Watts section of Los Angles at the same time, matters in Chicago were quickly brought under control, largely due to the actions of the police and the leaders of the civil rights movement.

Read the full post at The Huffington Post.

Robert McKersie is Professor Emeritus of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

New research shows social media posts have a positive impact on companies’ sales — Juanjuan Zhang

MIT Sloan Associate Prof. Juanjuan Zhang

MIT Sloan Associate Prof. Juanjuan Zhang

From Yahoo! Tech

It’s the Age of Social Media, and most companies are all in. They vie for likes on Facebook; they post pictures of products on Instagram; and they collect followers on Twitter and Weibo — China’s popular microblogging site — and regularly post about new services.

And yet, even as companies continue to spend time and money on social media, many are dubious about whether all that posting, tweeting, and retweeting has any effect on the bottom line.

My collaborators from Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management and I have just completed a large-scale field experiment on the Chinese microblogging service Weibo with a large global media company that produces documentary TV shows. We found that when the company posted about its shows, viewership rose 77 percent. Reposts by influential users, meanwhile, increased viewership by another third. The upshot: Social media platforms, like Twitter and Weibo, can have a significant impact on sales.

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The Taxi-Meter effect: Why do consumers hate paying by the mile or the minute so much? — Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

From Slate

When I get a taxi for the 15-minute ride from my office to the airport, I have two choices. I can hail a cab on the street, and pay a metered fare for the 4.6-mile trip. Or I can walk to the local Marriott and pay a fixed fee of $31.50.

Truthfully, I’m always a lot happier paying the fixed fee. I’m happier even though it probably costs more in the end. (A congestion-free trip on the meter comes out to about $26.) Sitting in a cab watching the meter tick up wrenches my gut: Every eighth of a mile, there goes another 45 cents—tick … tick … tick.

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