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Alex 'Sandy' Pentland

Keynote title: Building A Nervous System for Society: The ‘New Deal on Data’ and how to make Health, Financial, Logistics, and Transportation Systems Work

Most of the functions of our society are based on networks designed during the late 1800s, and are modelled after centralized water systems. The rapid spread of ubiquitous networks, and connected sensors such as those contained in smartphones and cars, allow these networks to be reinvented as much more active and reactive control networks - at the scale of the individual, the family, the enterprise, the city and the nation. This will fundamentally transform the economics of health, finance, logistics, and transportation. One key challenge is access to the personal data at scale to enable these systems to function more efficiently. In discussions with key CEOs, regulators, and NGOs at the World Economic Forum we have constructed a `new deal on data' that can allow personal data to emerge as accessible asset class that provides strong protection for individuals. The talk will also cover a range of prototype systems and experiments developed at MIT, outline some of the challenges and growth opportunities, focusing on how this new data ecosystem may end up strongly promoting but also shaping the semantic web.

Alex 'Sandy' Pentland directs MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, and advises the World Economic Forum, Nissan Motor Corporation, and a variety of start-up firms. He has previously helped create and direct MIT’s Media Laboratory, the Media Lab Asia laboratories at the Indian Institutes of Technology, and Strong Hospital’s Center for Future Health.  Profiles of Sandy have appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, Forbes, and Harvard Business Review.

Sandy is among the most-cited computational scientists in the world, and a pioneer in computational social science, organizational engineering, mobile computing, image understanding, and modern biometrics. His research has been featured in Nature, Science, the World Economic Forum, and Harvard Business Review, as well as being the focus of TV features including Nova and Scientific American Frontiers. His most recent book is `Honest Signals,' published by MIT Press.

Sandy's research group and entrepreneurship program have spun off 26 companies to date, three of which are publicly listed and several that serve millions of poor in Africa and South Asia. Recent spin-offs have been featured in publications such as the Economist and the New York Times, as well as winning a variety of prizes from international development organizations.