Sinan Aral, MIT Sloan David Austin Professor of Management
Our latest installment of the MIT Sloan Experts Series includes a conversation about fake news with Sinan Aral, David Austin Professor of Management and author of the forthcoming book, The Hype Machine. We’ll discuss insights from the latest research from Aral and his co-researchers Soroush Vosoughi and Deb Roy of the MIT Media Lab which overturns conventional wisdom about how misinformation spreads, what causes it to spread so fast, and who—or what—is spreading it.
It is the largest study of its kind about fake news and is featured in the latest issue of Science, “The Spread of True and False News Online”, March 9, 2018.
Outstanding student debt has ballooned to $1.3 trillion and is now, aside from mortgages, most American households’ largest liability, according to the Federal Reserve. Last year alone student debt increased by almost $83.2 billion, or 6.7%. The price of tuition has risen an average 3.4% each year for a decade, markedly outpacing inflation.
Meanwhile, the U.S. faces a daunting skills gap in science, technology, engineering and math. Each year there are 1.3 million new openings in STEM fields but fewer than 600,000 new graduates. Is there a way to solve both these problems at once?
The culture of world-class data science teams is one in which team members (and their managers) are excited by what their teammates can do. Here’s how to create that kind of high-performing team.
Every team needs talented people. In data science, talented people need not only to be good at what they do individually but also able to challenge their colleagues to create effective new solutions to very hard problems.
How do you build data science team to attract and retain this type of world-class talent?
The gender imbalance in STEM fields is extreme. According to a 2010 AAUW report, boys and girls take math and science courses in roughly equal numbers in elementary, middle, and high school, however far fewer women than men pursue these fields in college. According to the National Science Foundation, 29% of all male freshmen planned to major in a STEM field in 2006 compared to 15% of all female freshmen.
Further, while 57% of undergraduate degrees are earned by women, only 12% of computer science degrees are earned by women. By college graduation, men outnumber women in nearly every science and engineering field.
This divide grows worse at the graduate level and is even wider in the workplace. GirlsWhoCode.com states that women make up half the U.S. workforce, yet hold only 25% of the jobs in the technical or computing fields. To quote from the site: “In a room full of 25 engineers, only three will be women.”
It may be just a bumper sticker aphorism, but lately it’s got me thinking. Peter Thiel, early Facebook investor and Paypal cofounder, announced recently that he’s offering $100,000 to 24 young people to drop out of school and pursue an entrepreneurial idea in Silicon Valley. Thiel says the emphasis on having a degree has created “a bubble” in education, and he believes ideas can develop in a start-up environment much faster than on a university campus.
“We need more innovation,” he told the Financial Times recently. “There’s a tremendous cost to having the most talented people in society take on enormous debt, then take well-paying but dead-end jobs to service those loans for the next 15 to 20 years of their lives.”