Commentary- An MBA’s take on Seattle’s tech scene — Jarek Langer

MIT Sloan MBA Student Jarek Langer

Jarek Langer, MBA ’15

From GeekWire

Even before coming to Seattle for the first time on MIT Sloan’s Tech Trek, I had a feeling that I’d like this place. I’d heard how it’s laid back and outdoorsy. Yeah, rainy weather, but I’d also heard how friendly everyone is. Having just returned from our visit, I can say that the city lived up to its reputation. I really liked the vibe.

We visited three big tech companies on our visit: Amazon, Microsoft and Groupon. They had all given formal presentations on MIT’s campus and are always in the news, so we were all pretty well-informed about them. Visiting on their home turf, however, gave us a unique opportunity to observe and experience their culture, get a feel for the environment, and ask more probing questions. We also visited the venture capital firm Madrona Venture Group, which hosted a startup panel discussion.

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Robots will stay in the back seat in the second machine age — Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson

Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business at MIT Sloan, and Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business

Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business at MIT Sloan, and Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business

From the Financial Times

It is easy to be pessimistic about jobs and pay these days. More and more work is being automated away by ever more powerful and capable technologies.

Not only can computers transcribe and translate normal human speech, they can also understand it well enough to carry out simple instructions. Machines now make sense of huge pools of unstructured information, and in many cases detect patterns and draw inferences better than highly trained and experienced humans. Recent advances include autonomous cars and aircraft, and robots that can work alongside humans in factories, warehouses and the open air.

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After Target data theft, hackers’ next target is you — Stuart Madnick

MIT Sloan Professor Stuart Madnick

MIT Sloan Professor Stuart Madnick

From MarketWatch

The theft of more than 100 million customer records from Target late last year has drawn much public and media attention. Consumers remain alarmed that such a large retailer could be hacked so thoroughly.

But in falling victim to cyber crime, Target TGT +0.08%  is far from alone. To call Target’s data breach the tip of the iceberg doesn’t begin to capture the magnitude of the threat companies and individuals face today from cyber criminals. A more fitting metaphor is that we are in the midst of the largest, but largely unnoticed, world-wide epidemic, infecting computers and communications systems, and spreading at a dangerous pace.

Cyber threats are a complex global phenomenon, and an international effort drawing on knowledge from a range of disciplines is needed to address it.

One attempt is the joint MIT-Harvard project, Explorations in Cyber International Relations (ECIR), headed by Prof. Nazli Choucri, of MIT’s Political Science department. This collaborative effort, supported by the U.S. Defense Department, is advancing a research agenda involving experts from the MIT Sloan School of Management, MIT’s Political Science and Computer Science Departments, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard Law School.

Read the full post at MarketWatch. 

Stuart Madnick is the John Norris Maguire professor of information technology at the Sloan School of Management and professor of engineering systems at MIT School of Engineering. For the past five years he has been a participant in Explorations in Cyber International Relations and served on the Executive Committee.

Reflections on Bitcoin — Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

From Irving Wladawsky-Berger’s Blog

Ever since I joined Citigroup as a strategic advisor in March of 2008, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the ongoing transition toward a global digital money ecosystem.  For over 2,500 years, money has played a central role in the rise of civilizations and in human affairs of all kinds.  As a result, the historical transition to digital money is among the most exciting and important societal challenges in the coming decades.  Its impact might well be up there with that of other major technology-based societal transformations, including electricity, radio and TV, and the Internet and World Wide Web.

The evolution to a digital money ecosystem involves a lot more than the transformation of money - cash, checks, credit and debit cards, etc, – from physical to digital objects that we will carry in our smart mobile devices.  It encompasses the whole money ecosystem, including the global payment infrastructures, the management of personal identities and financial data, the global financial flows among institutions and between institutions and individuals, the government regulatory regimes, security and privacy issues, and so on.

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Ukraine OS 2.0: Recent events as installation of a new operating system — Andrei Kirilenko

MIT Sloan Professor Andrei Kirilenko

MIT Sloan Professor Andrei Kirilenko

From The Huffington Post

I am 46 years old. The first 23 years of my life I spent in the Soviet Union; the remainder I spent in the United States. I was born and grew up in Ukraine — in Eastern Ukraine, to be exact. In the underbelly of the Ukrainian Rust Belt, called the Donbass, where people work in ginormous smoke belching factories, eat salted pork fat for breakfast and speak Russian.

That was supposed to be my fate too, pork fat and all, but the Soviet Empire collapsed, I got to study economics at an Ivy League doctorate program and am now a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Spending half of my life in Ukraine sort of qualifies me to offer an opinion about recent events there. Being at MIT, my opinion comes with more than a hint of technology included.

If you are reading this, you have probably already seen plenty of pictures of burning tires, exploding Molotov cocktails, bodies with blankets over them, armed men with covered faces, and, most recently, youthful opposition leaders shaking hands with the heads of great nations. What I see is an installation of a new “operating system,” or an OS as they are called in the tech world. An OS is an essential set of common rules that enable different parts of a computer, or in this case society, to interact with each other. Without these rules, a nation state cannot function — just like your computer cannot function without an OS.

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