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2021 MIT IDE Annual Report

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<strong>2021</strong> ANNUAL REPORT<br />

Racing into the future


<strong>2021</strong> IN REVIEW<br />

A Pivotal Year for the World,<br />

a Prolific One for the <strong>IDE</strong><br />

<strong>IDE</strong> Director Sinan Aral shares his thoughts on the past year<br />

Sinan Aral<br />

Director, <strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong><br />

In <strong>2021</strong>, we continued to lead the way forward<br />

despite an ever-changing digital landscape.<br />

How can technology effect positive change?<br />

CONTENTS<br />

03 ACHIEVEMENTS<br />

04 RESEARCH<br />

06 AWARDS<br />

07 EVENTS<br />

09 EDUCATION<br />

10 TEAM<br />

11 SUPPORTERS<br />

It’s often difficult to measure the impact of<br />

academic accomplishments, but at the <strong>IDE</strong><br />

we repeatedly get to see how our diligence is<br />

making a difference. <strong>2021</strong> was a pivotal year for<br />

the world and a prolific year for our outstanding<br />

faculty, researchers, and students.<br />

Recent recognition and accolades are just one<br />

reflection of our work’s value. I was humbled to<br />

be named the top digital thinker by Thinkers50,<br />

joining other <strong>IDE</strong> researchers and scholars—past<br />

and present—on this list, including Geoffrey<br />

Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne, Andrew McAfee,<br />

and Erik Brynjolfsson. I’m also privileged to work<br />

with Maria Ressa, <strong>IDE</strong> fellow and CEO of Rappler,<br />

who received the Nobel Peace Prize for her<br />

staunch advocacy of press freedom and defense<br />

of truthful information around the globe. The<br />

leading-edge research of many other <strong>IDE</strong> leaders<br />

was also recognized this year, which is fulfilling<br />

and energizing.<br />

At the same time, <strong>2021</strong> was much more than<br />

a year when <strong>IDE</strong> scholars won awards; it<br />

allowed us to be at the epicenter of international<br />

business and policy discussions about the<br />

significant implications of digital technologies<br />

like AI and social media, and the increasing<br />

impact of fake news.<br />

When I began my study of social media and<br />

marketing more than a decade ago, I knew it<br />

was a growing phenomena. Still, it’s startling<br />

today to see the profound power wielded by<br />

platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon,<br />

and Google. As I point out in my book, The Hype<br />

Machine, technology and society have fused<br />

into one conversation. Should social media be<br />

regulated? And if so, how? Can we safeguard<br />

personal privacy and democracy? Can we stem<br />

the flow of misinformation? The critical nature<br />

of these issues explains why we had more than<br />

20,000 people join us for the virtual Social Media<br />

Summit at <strong>MIT</strong> in April <strong>2021</strong>—the largest event at<br />

<strong>MIT</strong>, ever.<br />

I look forward to 2022 and the new areas of the<br />

digital economy that we will study rigorously.<br />

We’ll shed light on the promise—and the perils—<br />

these technologies may bring.<br />

The <strong>IDE</strong>’s goal is to explore how people and<br />

businesses will work, interact, and prosper<br />

in an era of profound digital transformation.<br />

We can only achieve that goal with the support<br />

of our members and sponsors. Even when we<br />

can’t meet in person, we continue to deepen<br />

our collaboration and relationships with you,<br />

our stakeholders. Thanks for joining us on this<br />

wild journey.<br />

02


ACHIEVEMENTS<br />

<strong>2021</strong>:<br />

The Pandemic-<br />

Fueled Reliance<br />

on Technology<br />

Resulted in<br />

Resilience and<br />

Reinvention<br />

FPO<br />

RESSA WINS NOBEL<br />

PEACE PRIZE<br />

<strong>IDE</strong> Digital Fellow Maria Ressa won the <strong>2021</strong><br />

Nobel Peace Prize “for [her] efforts to safeguard<br />

freedom of expression, which is a precondition<br />

for democracy and lasting peace.” A journalist in<br />

Asia for 35 years, Ressa co-founded Rappler, a<br />

digital news site that’s leading the fight for press<br />

freedom in the Philippines. As the company’s<br />

executive editor and CEO, Ressa has endured<br />

constant political harassment and arrests by<br />

the Duterte government—and was forced to<br />

post bail nine times to stay free. Rappler’s battle<br />

for truth and democracy is the subject of the<br />

2020 Sundance Film Festival documentary, A<br />

Thousand Cuts. Ressa has contributed to <strong>IDE</strong><br />

events, including her keynote talk at the <strong>2021</strong><br />

<strong>IDE</strong> <strong>Annual</strong> Conference and Social Media<br />

Summit @ <strong>MIT</strong>.<br />

In <strong>2021</strong>, social media truly took center<br />

Reuters / Alamy<br />

stage. No longer a benign fad, platforms<br />

became enmeshed with the ongoing<br />

NEW RESEARCH ABOUNDS<br />

A-LAB DRIVES BENEFITS<br />

COVID-19 crisis, government upheaval,<br />

COVID-19 RESEARCH REPORT<br />

The <strong>IDE</strong> research team worked tirelessly to provide timely,<br />

accurate, and data-informed analysis of the pandemic and its<br />

effects– even as it unfolded. The goal was to offer actionable<br />

solutions for policymakers, business leaders, and citizens.<br />

We collaborated with companies like Facebook, Safegraph,<br />

Praekelt, and Graphika Inc. to analyze millions of data points<br />

to help stop the coronavirus spread and advise global leaders<br />

on critical next steps. Our report, Our World Accelerated:<br />

COVID-19 and the Impact on Our Digital Economy, outlines the<br />

key findings from multiple <strong>IDE</strong> research projects.<br />

As always, <strong>IDE</strong> researchers focused on the most<br />

crticial digital economy issues affecting the<br />

world today– as well as the future. We tackled<br />

thorny topics such as: How AI drives decisionmaking;<br />

what the world of work will look like<br />

post-pandemic, and when and how quantum<br />

computing will replace traditional computing.<br />

ACCENTURE DEEPENS COLLABORATION<br />

Accenture, an <strong>IDE</strong> founding member, invigorated<br />

our collaboration this year. With the establishment<br />

of the <strong>MIT</strong> and Accenture Convergence Initiative<br />

for Industry and Society, our organizations<br />

launched a rigorous new agenda of research,<br />

events, and content development.<br />

<strong>IDE</strong> EVENTS DRAW HUGE AUDIENCES<br />

With virtual events now the norm, the <strong>IDE</strong> took<br />

full advantage of this format yielding excellent<br />

response and participation. We launched<br />

new events like the Social Media Summit and<br />

continued our heritage events: the Platform<br />

Strategy Summit and <strong>Annual</strong> Conference. Overall,<br />

we engaged more than 25,000 viewers and<br />

attracted new members and partners.<br />

The <strong>IDE</strong>’s flagship educational offering – the<br />

Analytics Lab (A-Lab) – continues to be highly<br />

sought by students and project hosts alike.<br />

In this graduate seminar, student teams engage<br />

with host organizations to use analytics,<br />

machine learning, and other analysis<br />

methods. Their results diagnose, enable, or<br />

uncover solutions to real business issues and<br />

opportunities. This year’s class included 98<br />

graduate students and 25 projects hosted by<br />

19 companies.<br />

<strong>IDE</strong> RESEARCHERS GARNER ACCOLADES<br />

Our team of researchers continues to<br />

receive recognition on the international<br />

stage for cutting-edge work on the digital<br />

economy. The list of accolades speaks to the<br />

contributions of our researchers to academia,<br />

industry, and the public sector. For example,<br />

Dean Eckles provided testimony on algorithmic<br />

transparency and assessing the effects of<br />

algorithmic ranking before the US Senate<br />

Subcommittee on Communications, Media,<br />

and Broadband.<br />

and related misinformation campaigns<br />

worldwide. These topics also informed<br />

the research agenda at the <strong>IDE</strong>. The<br />

more technology’s role in society was<br />

top-of-mind and hotly debated, the<br />

more relevant our work became.<br />

PRESS & MEDIA COVERAGE SOARS<br />

<strong>IDE</strong> research and events continue to attract global<br />

attention from the press and media, advancing<br />

the public understanding of the digital economy.<br />

Our channels experienced widespread growth as<br />

we launched informative content across Twitter,<br />

LinkedIn, Medium, Instagram, and our newly<br />

revised website and video. Our audience has<br />

grown to more than 4,000 followers on Medium.<br />

<strong>IDE</strong> Director Sinan Aral was a sought-after<br />

commentator on national and global media—<br />

including CNN and Yahoo Finance—on topics<br />

ranging from the January 6 invasion of the US<br />

Capitol to big tech monopolies.<br />

03


RESEARCH<br />

Our Research:<br />

A Strong<br />

Foundation<br />

Research is at the core<br />

of everything we do<br />

at the <strong>IDE</strong>. Our team<br />

continues to examine<br />

the critical issues facing<br />

the world today and in<br />

the future.<br />

RESEARCH GROUPS<br />

The <strong>IDE</strong> leadership team focuses on six research group topics.<br />

Misinformation & Fake News<br />

David Rand is advancing the fight against online<br />

misinformation and driving truth in our digital lives.<br />

In the research project, The Psychology of Fake News, Rand writes,<br />

“There is…a large disconnect between what people believe and what<br />

they will share on social media, and this is largely driven by inattention<br />

rather than by purposeful sharing of misinformation.”<br />

The Human/AI Interface<br />

Renée Richardson Gosline is optimizing the human<br />

and AI division of decision-making and preventing bias<br />

in algorithms.<br />

During the <strong>MIT</strong> Sloan Experts series, Gosline discussed “Human-<br />

Centered AI,” which examines the consequences of how and when<br />

people trust bots and algorithms to help them make decisions, and<br />

what it means for society at large.<br />

Data-Driven Societies<br />

Sandy Pentland is building data and AI ecosystems<br />

and infrastructure in which all partners—citizens,<br />

companies, and government—are winners.<br />

Alex “Sandy” Pentland, is among the contributors to Remaking the<br />

World—The Age of Global Enlightenment. The joint initiative by the<br />

Boston Global Forum and the United Nations Academic Impact features<br />

two articles by Pentland: “The Cycle of Prosperity: Ensuring Equal<br />

Opportunity” and “Our Digital Future: from the Internet to the Interledger.”<br />

Tech for Good<br />

Andrew McAfee is accelerating and ensuring the broad,<br />

positive progress that innovation drives in our economy,<br />

society, and environment.<br />

McAfee’s insights continue to illuminate the paradoxes and the<br />

potential inherent in technology’s ability to promote a more positive<br />

future. Read “Don’t Misunderstand Earth Day’s Successes” in Wired.<br />

Accenture Deepens Collaboration with <strong>IDE</strong><br />

As a founding member of the <strong>IDE</strong>, Accenture<br />

has embarked on an extensive program of<br />

research and activities with <strong>IDE</strong> faculty, scientists,<br />

and staff. Currently, we are working closely<br />

together on four streams of research: Quantum<br />

Computing; Digital Decoupling; Responsible AI,<br />

and Productivity and the Cloud.<br />

Social Networks & Digital<br />

Experimentation<br />

Dean Eckles is uncovering how new technologies and<br />

means of social interaction and contagion impact all<br />

facets of life.<br />

Industry decision-makers often want to identify interventions, such<br />

as marketing campaigns, that will maximize a desired outcome, but<br />

often this outcome can only be observed in the long-term. Eckles<br />

and his co-authors’ research finds methods for identifying optimal<br />

interventions in the near term using statistical surrogacy and offpolicy<br />

learning literature.<br />

AI, Labor Economics, and<br />

Online Marketplaces<br />

John Horton explores how the design of online<br />

marketplaces and computer-mediated transactions<br />

can create widespread benefits for all.<br />

Horton’s forthcoming working paper, “The Death of a Technical Skill,”<br />

examines when the demand for a skill falls—or will foreseeably fall.<br />

Workers with that skill must make a choice. Using Apple’s decision in<br />

2010 to no longer support Adobe Flash, Horton uncovers the effect of<br />

this decision on the workforce.<br />

04


RESEARCH<br />

New Projects for a New Age<br />

The <strong>IDE</strong> research engine revved up in <strong>2021</strong> to focus on today’s dominant topics<br />

as well as the themes that will loom large tomorrow.<br />

VIEW OUR LATEST RESEARCH PROJECTS AT <strong>IDE</strong>.<strong>MIT</strong>.EDU<br />

DEEP LEARNING’S PRESENT &<br />

QUANTUM COMPUTING’S FUTURE<br />

Quantum Computing continues to gain attention<br />

as a super-charged collaborator to classical<br />

computing, but when and how we will reach<br />

quantum advantage remains a pressing<br />

question. <strong>IDE</strong> researchers are closely analyzing<br />

quantum advancements and other AI technology<br />

breakthroughs–as well as their limitations.<br />

Current research includes:<br />

How Fast Do Algorithms Improve?<br />

“One way to improve computer performance<br />

is to change their algorithms—the step-bystep<br />

procedures used by computers to solve<br />

problems. While many claims have been made<br />

about the rapid pace of algorithmic progress,<br />

there is a wide discrepancy across algorithms.”<br />

Deep Learning’s Diminishing Returns<br />

“Faced with rising economic and environmental<br />

costs, the deep-learning community will need<br />

to increase performance without causing<br />

computing demands to go through the roof.<br />

If they don’t, progress will stagnate. But don’t<br />

despair yet: Plenty is being done to address<br />

this challenge.”<br />

Quantum Computing for Business Leaders<br />

This article published in Harvard Business Review<br />

“examines the way quantum computers will not<br />

only upend digital security, but spur investment,<br />

reshape industries, and spark innovation.”<br />

SOCIAL MEDIA<br />

Social media and its effect on our world<br />

continues to provoke actions and reactions<br />

by businesses, governments, and individuals.<br />

For <strong>IDE</strong> researchers, that means constantly<br />

offering data-based insights about the potential<br />

ramifications of social media in areas such as the<br />

platform economy, healthcare, and elections. We<br />

take an interdisciplinary approach to analyzing<br />

the behavioral, as well as the economic, impact<br />

of technology. A few examples of recent reports:<br />

Field Experiments On Social Media<br />

Online behavioral data, such as digital traces<br />

from social media, may allow researchers an<br />

unprecedented window into human behavior.<br />

However, research using such data is often purely<br />

observational, limiting its ability to identify causal<br />

relationships.<br />

Influencer Video Advertising on TikTok<br />

Influencer videos on the TikTok online platform<br />

have emerged as a multi-billion dollar force<br />

in marketing. We explore what differentiates<br />

influencer videos that drive many sales from<br />

those that drive only a few.<br />

Online Platforms Have Become Chaos<br />

Machines. Can We Rein Them In?<br />

Sinan Aral continues to be the go-to expert on<br />

social media. In this Harvard Business Review<br />

article, Aral answers tough questions about<br />

unchecked social media.<br />

FAKE NEWS<br />

JOURNALISM AGAINST MISINFORMATION<br />

If we study the truth behind fake news, we may help<br />

combat this dangerous and unintended byproduct<br />

of the digital world. A team of <strong>IDE</strong> researchers<br />

probed misinformation from various angles to<br />

understand why and when people both believe and<br />

share fake news and how to correct it.<br />

Timing Matters When Correcting Fake News<br />

“Countering misinformation can reduce belief in<br />

that moment, but corrective messages quickly fade<br />

from memory.”<br />

The Psychology of Fake News<br />

“There is…a large disconnect between what people<br />

believe and what they will share on social media,<br />

and this is largely driven by inattention rather than<br />

by purposeful sharing of misinformation.”<br />

Scaling Up Fact-Checking Using the Wisdom<br />

of Crowds<br />

“Crowdsourcing is a promising approach for<br />

helping to identify misinformation at scale.”<br />

To affirm our commitment to journalistic freedom,<br />

the <strong>IDE</strong> created a research collaboration with<br />

Rappler’s Maria Ressa with support from the New<br />

Venture Fund.<br />

This project is intended to bring truth to what’s<br />

happening in the Philippines. The primary<br />

purpose of the project is to document the use<br />

of misinformation and cyberattacks to silence<br />

journalist opposition to the Duterte regime.<br />

We also aim to scientifically analyze the online<br />

dynamics of how such attacks unfold and why<br />

they succeed or fail. Our research team has<br />

started to analyze a large data set that includes<br />

Rappler’s data, as well as detailed data on the<br />

last 20 years of election results in the Philippines<br />

to statistically analyze the spread of online<br />

misinformation and how it quells fair elections<br />

and democracy.<br />

05


AWARDS<br />

The World<br />

Takes Notice<br />

Members of the <strong>IDE</strong> community continue<br />

to change the world and earn accolades<br />

along the way.<br />

“Sinan Aral is a clear<br />

and persuasive guide to<br />

the new tech reality.”<br />

-Thinkers50<br />

THINKERS 50<br />

Under <strong>IDE</strong> Director Sinan Aral, recently named top digital<br />

thinker by Thinkers50, our award-winning researchers worked<br />

at the intersection of computing, social science, digital<br />

experimentation, and economics to decipher and explain<br />

unprecedented events.<br />

Aral received the Digital Thinking Award, as someone who has<br />

done the most to convert “the digital language of 0’s and 1’s into<br />

useful human insight.” Says Thinkers50: “Sinan Aral is a clear<br />

and persuasive guide to the new tech reality.”<br />

Also topping the <strong>2021</strong> Thinkers50 list were <strong>IDE</strong> Visiting Scholar<br />

Geoffrey Parker and <strong>IDE</strong> Co-Director Andrew McAfee. Former<br />

<strong>IDE</strong> Fellow Marshall Van Alstyne also made the list.<br />

Geoffrey Parker and Andrew MacAfee were recognized by Thinkers50.<br />

PARAMVEER DHILLON<br />

Former <strong>IDE</strong> Post-Doctoral Fellow and <strong>MIT</strong> Sloan PhD<br />

Paramveer Dhillon won the Davis Young Scholar Award from<br />

the Institute for Operations Research and the Management<br />

Sciences. Dhillon is now on faculty at the University of<br />

Michigan.<br />

DEAN ECKLES & AVINASH COLLIS<br />

As part of its Foundational Integrity Research proposal process, Facebook<br />

(now Meta) awarded funding to Dean Eckles and former <strong>MIT</strong> Sloan PhD<br />

Aviansh Collis. Of 446 proposals, Meta selected 19 winners, including<br />

Eckles’ proposal on “Measuring the Impact of Social Influence on Belief in<br />

Misinformation” and “Does Whatsapp Increase Polarization?” by Collis.<br />

MARIA RESSA<br />

Maria Ressa, <strong>IDE</strong> fellow and CEO of Rappler, was awarded the<br />

Nobel Peace Prize for her staunch advocacy of press freedom<br />

and truthful information around the globe.<br />

DAVID RAND<br />

David Rand was named one of the top business school<br />

professors under 40 years old by the annual Best 40 under 40<br />

list by Poets&Quants, which honors young professors teaching<br />

in MBA programs.<br />

JOHN HORTON<br />

John Horton won the <strong>2021</strong> INFORMS Slaughter Early Career<br />

Award and the AI/ML Rising Star Award at the <strong>2021</strong> AI, ML and<br />

Business Analytics program.<br />

06


EVENTS<br />

<strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong> Seminar<br />

Series<br />

FEATURED SEMINAR<br />

KATY MILKMAN<br />

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania<br />

Mega-Studies Improve the Impact of<br />

Applied Behavioral Science<br />

Our informal seminars spotlight<br />

early results from current research<br />

projects and provocative new ideas.<br />

Katy Milkman introduces the concept of a<br />

megastudy, a technique that can accelerate<br />

the pace of discovery in behavioral science<br />

and enable scientists to more effectively<br />

inform policy-makers about improving citizens’<br />

decisions and outcomes.<br />

WATCH SEMINAR<br />

SPRING / FALL <strong>2021</strong> SEMINARS<br />

Watch select spring and fall<br />

seminars on our YouTube channel.<br />

Johan Ugander<br />

Stanford University<br />

“Measuring Network Effects<br />

Using Randomized Graph Cluster<br />

Randomization”<br />

Florenta Teodoridis<br />

USC Marshall<br />

“Could Machine Learning be a General<br />

Purpose Technology?<br />

Michael Schrage<br />

<strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong><br />

“Selvesware and The Next AI:<br />

How ‘Augmented Introspection’<br />

Transforms Recommendation”<br />

Sarah Bana<br />

Stanford HAI<br />

“job2vec: Using Language Models<br />

to Understand Wage Premia”<br />

Tim Hwang<br />

Georgetown Center for Security and<br />

Emerging Technology<br />

“Online Advertising is Broken. You<br />

Won’t Believe What Happens Next”<br />

Sebastian Steffen<br />

<strong>MIT</strong> Sloan School of Management<br />

“Occupational Skill Compositions and<br />

the Values of Skills: Panel Estimates<br />

from 200 Million Job Postings”<br />

Nicholas Ashford<br />

<strong>MIT</strong> Sloan<br />

“Actions We Can Take to Address<br />

Misinformation and Safeguard<br />

the Freedom of Speech”<br />

Sukwoong Choi<br />

<strong>MIT</strong> Sloan<br />

“How Does AI Improve Human<br />

Decision-Making? Evidence from<br />

the AI-Powered Go Program”<br />

D.J. Wu<br />

Georgia Tech<br />

“Commercializing Smart and<br />

Connected Products: A Value<br />

Chain Perspective”<br />

Jonathon Hazell<br />

Princeton<br />

“AI and Jobs: Evidence from Online<br />

Vacancies”<br />

Joshua Gans<br />

Rotman School, University of<br />

Toronto<br />

“The Information Requirements of<br />

Preparing for Covid-29”<br />

Sendhil Mullainathan<br />

Chicago Booth<br />

“Algorithmic Behavioral Science:<br />

Automated Discovery of Human<br />

Bias”<br />

Cuy Sheffield<br />

Visa<br />

“The Evolution of Crypto: From<br />

Bitcoin to NFTs”<br />

Ron Berman<br />

UPenn Wharton<br />

“False Discovery in A/B Testing”<br />

Sonia Jaffe<br />

Microsoft Research<br />

“The Effects of Remote Work on<br />

Collaboration Among Information<br />

Workers”<br />

Avi Goldfarb<br />

Rotman School, University of<br />

Toronto<br />

“Quantum Economic Advantage”<br />

Siddharth Suri<br />

Microsoft Research AI<br />

“Ghost Work: The Labor that<br />

Powers AI”<br />

Sophie Calder-Wang<br />

UPenn Wharton<br />

“The Distributional Impact of the<br />

Sharing Economy on the Housing<br />

Market”<br />

Judith Chevalier<br />

Yale School of Management<br />

“Gig Work and Digital Platforms:<br />

Future of Competition for Workers”<br />

Hal Gregersen<br />

<strong>MIT</strong> Sloan<br />

“Managing the Human Side of<br />

Digital Disruption”<br />

07


EVENTS<br />

High Impact,<br />

High Visibility<br />

Events continue to be our primary means<br />

for spreading our research insights far<br />

and wide.<br />

CONFERENCE ON DIGITAL<br />

EXPERIMENTATION (CoDE)<br />

The ever-growing attendance at <strong>MIT</strong> CoDE<br />

reflects the tremendous interest among data<br />

professionals and academics in online testing<br />

methods. This year’s two-day event was the<br />

largest in its 14-year history, a testament to the<br />

rise in these online testing methods.<br />

500<br />

REGISTERED<br />

ATTENDEES<br />

8<br />

PLENARY<br />

SPEAKERS<br />

100<br />

PARALLEL<br />

SESSIONS<br />

CoDE convenes leading researchers conducting and analyzing large-scale randomized experiments in digitally mediated<br />

social and economic environments, in various scientific disciplines including economics and computer science.<br />

VIEW SELECT SESSIONS<br />

THE <strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong> SOCIAL MEDIA SUM<strong>MIT</strong><br />

(SMS @ <strong>MIT</strong>)<br />

SMS@<strong>MIT</strong> brought together social technology luminaries<br />

to examine one of the most critical and compelling<br />

issues of our time —the impact of social media on our<br />

democracies, our economies, and our public health. The<br />

ambitious vision of this first event was not just to identify<br />

problems but to craft meaningful solutions to the social<br />

media crisis that promote the promise of social media<br />

and avoid its perils. The free event drew an impressive<br />

20,000 attendees, the largest event ever hosted at <strong>MIT</strong>.<br />

The SMS@<strong>MIT</strong> is now an annual <strong>IDE</strong> flagship.<br />

Read:<br />

Social Media at a Crossroads, 25 Solutions from<br />

the Social Media Summit<br />

<strong>IDE</strong> ANNUAL CONFERENCE<br />

It’s one thing to read new research<br />

reports and analysis; quite another<br />

to hear and see the author explain<br />

their work first-hand, even if it’s<br />

virtual. The goal of our annual<br />

conference is to connect the dots<br />

between scholarly data and the<br />

<strong>IDE</strong> members and sponsors who<br />

need actionable insights from our<br />

research every day. Attendees had<br />

the opportunity to interact with<br />

researchers, discuss studies, and<br />

determine how their organization—<br />

or society as a whole—can benefit<br />

from this cutting-edge work.<br />

The day offered a fast-paced, winwin<br />

interchange where members<br />

gained access to <strong>IDE</strong> experts and<br />

the <strong>IDE</strong> team learned lessons from<br />

practitioners in the field.<br />

<strong>MIT</strong> ANALYTICS LAB (A-LAB)<br />

The <strong>MIT</strong> Analytics Lab offers an<br />

opportunity for <strong>IDE</strong> stakeholders<br />

to submit projects and data to <strong>MIT</strong><br />

graduate student teams that will<br />

use analytics, machine learning,<br />

and other methods of analysis to<br />

develop results that will diagnose,<br />

enable, or uncover solutions to real<br />

business issues and opportunities.<br />

The <strong>2021</strong> Pitch Day was<br />

held on September 18. The<br />

<strong>2021</strong> Final Presentations<br />

were held on December<br />

DIGITAL MEDIA & PRINCIPLED<br />

ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN<br />

GROWTH MARKETS<br />

Maria Ressa, the Philippines’ first<br />

Nobel Prize Laureate, joined the <strong>IDE</strong><br />

for a special, live event.<br />

Ressa, who is the founder of<br />

Rappler and <strong>IDE</strong> digital fellow,<br />

spoke with Sinan Aral about the<br />

impetus of founding Rappler and<br />

how she and the company have<br />

used principled entrepreneurship<br />

to leverage their platform for<br />

social change. She also shared her<br />

successes and lessons learned as a<br />

leader and public figure.<br />

The November 17 event was<br />

produced in conjunction with The<br />

Legatum Center for Development<br />

and Entrepreneurship at <strong>MIT</strong>.<br />

PLATFORM STRATEGY SUM<strong>MIT</strong><br />

The <strong>IDE</strong> hosted the internationally<br />

recognized Platform Strategy<br />

Summit for the ninth year running.<br />

An impressive lineup of engaging<br />

leaders and researchers examined<br />

how platform ecosystems attract<br />

new business partners, streamline<br />

operations, and optimize digital<br />

technologies. Songtradr, the<br />

world’s largest music licensing<br />

marketplace, selected artists David<br />

Davis and Alice Pisano to perform<br />

live for our audience.<br />

08


EDUCATION<br />

Action + Learning =<br />

The Future<br />

As always, education is at the core of what<br />

we do. We take pride in ensuring that the<br />

insights derived by our researchers find<br />

practical application and understanding for<br />

our stakeholders and the broader community.<br />

A-TEAMS DELIVER DATA-DRIVEN RESULTS<br />

Successful implementation of business analytics requires<br />

leading-edge tools and sophisticated data modeling skills—<br />

exactly what <strong>MIT</strong> Analytics Lab (A-Lab) students know best.<br />

This year, 25 student teams worked with their sponsor<br />

organizations on a wide range of data-set problems—from<br />

examining talent pipelines, to predicting real estate metrics,<br />

and analyzing stock replenishment at local grocers. Their<br />

analytical acumen yielded cost-saving results for the<br />

businesses—and awards for the student teams.<br />

Below (L-R): Kim Adler, Tiana<br />

Cui, Grace Garbrecht, and<br />

Zijin Wang of Lasso Ladies.<br />

On December 3, the teams presented their semester-long<br />

projects to a panel of judges that chose a winner based<br />

on creativity, execution, and business value. The winning<br />

student team worked with Atlassian, a maker of software<br />

collaboration tools such as Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket, and<br />

AtlassianMarket. The students worked on a project titled<br />

“Marketing Attribution: Uncovering the Most Influential<br />

Campaigns.” They found that the most effective way to<br />

convert leads to actual sales includes multiple intermediary<br />

touchpoints such as webinars, trials, and website resources.<br />

Congratulations to the winning A-Lab team ‘Lasso Ladies.’ representing Atlassian, who will have their<br />

names etched on the silver winners’ cup. Above (L-R): Justin Fortier (Head of Data Science at ViralGains &<br />

A-Lab Judge), Renée Gosline (<strong>IDE</strong> Research Group Lead & A-Lab Judge), Grace Garbrecht (student), Kim<br />

Adler (student), Tiana Cui (student), Zijin Wang (student), Yael Davidan (Senior Director at Chewy & A-Lab<br />

Judge), Sinan Aral (<strong>IDE</strong> Director & A-Lab Professor).<br />

Executive<br />

Education<br />

In <strong>2021</strong>, <strong>IDE</strong> faculty and<br />

researchers continued to launch<br />

and contribute to best-in-class<br />

executive education courses.<br />

Renée Richardson Gosline launched her<br />

new course, Breakthrough Customer<br />

Experience (CX) Strategy. In this highly<br />

interactive program, Gosline demonstrates<br />

how state-of-the-art behavioral economics<br />

can be combined with leadership strategy<br />

to develop innovative marketing strategy<br />

and competitive advantage.<br />

Sinan Aral taught Executive Education<br />

courses on Digital Marketing Analytics<br />

and Social Media Strategy. Participants<br />

gained practical insight into how to<br />

apply digital marketing measurements<br />

and analysis and how to harness social<br />

media effectively and ethically.<br />

<strong>MIT</strong> Digital Fellow Michael Schrage<br />

and Douglas Ready, a senior lecturer at<br />

the <strong>MIT</strong> Sloan School of Management,<br />

taught the executive course,<br />

Reimagining Leadership: A Playbook for<br />

the Digital Economy in February.<br />

09


TEAM<br />

<strong>IDE</strong> Team<br />

The <strong>IDE</strong> relies on the<br />

expertise and dedication<br />

of a committed group of<br />

individuals.<br />

LEADERSHIP<br />

Sinan Aral<br />

Director, <strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong><br />

Professor, <strong>MIT</strong> Sloan School of Management<br />

Andrew McAfee<br />

Co-Director and Principal Research Scientist,<br />

<strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong><br />

RESEARCH GROUP LEADS<br />

Dean Eckles<br />

Associate Professor, <strong>MIT</strong> Sloan School of<br />

Management<br />

Renée Richardson Gosline<br />

Senior Lecturer, <strong>MIT</strong> Sloan School of<br />

Management<br />

John Horton<br />

Associate Professor, <strong>MIT</strong> Sloan School of<br />

Management<br />

Andrew McAfee<br />

Co-Director, Principal Research Scientist, <strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong><br />

Alex “Sandy” Pentland<br />

Professor, <strong>MIT</strong> Media Lab<br />

David Rand<br />

Professor, <strong>MIT</strong> Sloan School of Management<br />

RESEARCHERS<br />

Daron Acemoglu<br />

Professor, <strong>MIT</strong> Economics Department<br />

Wang Jin<br />

Research Associate, <strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong><br />

Kristina McElheran<br />

Assistant Professor, University of Toronto<br />

Geoffrey Parker<br />

Professor, Dartmouth College<br />

Georgios Petropoulos<br />

Research Scientist, <strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong><br />

Jonathan Ruane<br />

Visiting Scientist, <strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong><br />

Neil Thompson<br />

Research Scientist, <strong>MIT</strong> <strong>IDE</strong> & CSAIL<br />

DIGITAL FELLOWS<br />

Timothy Aeppel<br />

<strong>Report</strong>er, Reuters<br />

Matt Beane<br />

Assistant Professor, Technology<br />

Management Program, University of<br />

California, Santa Barbara<br />

DIGITAL FELLOWS (CONTINUED)<br />

Seth Benzell<br />

Assistant Professor, Argyros School of Business<br />

and Economics, Chapman University<br />

Thomas Davenport<br />

Professor, Babson College<br />

Alan Davidson<br />

Digital Economy Director, U.S. Department of<br />

Commerce<br />

Paramveer Dhillon<br />

Assistant Professor, University of Michigan<br />

Apostolos Filippas<br />

Assistant Professor, Gabelli School of Business,<br />

Fordham University<br />

Joshua Gans<br />

Professor, University of Toronto Rotman School<br />

of Management<br />

Shane Greenstein<br />

Professor, Harvard Business School<br />

David Holtz<br />

Assistant Professor, Haas School of Business,<br />

University of California, Berkeley<br />

John Irons<br />

Senior VP & Head of Research, Siegel Family<br />

Endowment<br />

Tod Loofbourrow<br />

CEO, ViralGains<br />

Christos Nicolaides<br />

Assistant Professor, University of Cyprus<br />

Claudia Perlich<br />

Data Scientist, Two Sigma<br />

Maria Ressa<br />

CEO, Rappler<br />

Daniel Rock<br />

Assistant Professor, Wharton School, University<br />

of Pennsylvania<br />

Michael Schrage<br />

Visiting Fellow, Imperial College Department of<br />

Innovation and Entrepreneurship<br />

John Van Reenen<br />

Professor, London School of Economics<br />

Irving Wladawsky-Berger<br />

Visiting Lecturer, <strong>MIT</strong> Engineering Systems<br />

PhD CANDIDATES &<br />

POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATES<br />

Nuruddin Ahmed<br />

Postdoctoral Associate<br />

Sukwoong Choi<br />

Postdoctoral Associate<br />

Zanele Munyikwa<br />

PhD Candidate<br />

Sebastian Steffen<br />

PhD Candidate<br />

Hong-Yi TuYe<br />

PhD Candidate<br />

Yuan Yuan<br />

PhD Candidate<br />

VISITING SCIENTISTS<br />

Tamay Besiroglu<br />

University of Cambridge<br />

Erik Metz<br />

BASF<br />

Leonardo Serra<br />

Capgemini Consulting<br />

STAFF<br />

Joanne Batziotegos<br />

Finance Administrator<br />

Tammy Buzzell<br />

Associate Director<br />

Devin Cook<br />

Associate Director<br />

Paula Klein<br />

Contributing Writer and Editorial Content Director<br />

Adjovi Koene<br />

Administrative Assistant II<br />

Aileen Menounos<br />

Senior Administrative Assistant, <strong>MIT</strong> Sloan<br />

A-Lab Coordinator<br />

Carrie Reynolds<br />

Assistant Director of Communications and<br />

Marketing<br />

David Verrill<br />

Executive Director<br />

10


OUR SUPPORTERS<br />

Thank You<br />

We are grateful for the ongoing<br />

support of our advisors, donors,<br />

and corporate members. Thank<br />

you for joining our <strong>IDE</strong> community.<br />

FOUNDATIONS<br />

Center for Global Enterprise<br />

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation<br />

Ford Foundation<br />

Google.org<br />

Joyce Foundation<br />

JPMorganChase Foundation<br />

<strong>MIT</strong>-IBM Watson AI Lab<br />

CORPORATIONS<br />

Accenture (Founding Member)<br />

Deutsche Bank (Founding Member)<br />

3M<br />

AB InBev<br />

Adobe Systems, Inc.<br />

Amazon.com, Inc.<br />

Autodesk, Inc.<br />

Staying Focused in<br />

a Spinning World<br />

The <strong>IDE</strong> team adapts to digital changes all around us.<br />

David Verrill<br />

Executive Director<br />

Nasdaq<br />

BASF<br />

ADVISORY BOARD<br />

Mitchell Baker<br />

Chairwoman and Co-Founder, Mozilla<br />

Carl Bass<br />

Former President and CEO, Autodesk<br />

Marc Benioff<br />

CEO, Salesforce<br />

Mary Callahan Erdoes<br />

CEO of Asset and Wealth Management,<br />

J.P. Morgan<br />

Reid Hoffman<br />

CEO, Linkedin<br />

James Manyika<br />

Director, McKinsey Global Institute<br />

Marissa Mayer<br />

Co-Founder, Lumi Labs<br />

Eric Schmidt<br />

Technical Advisor, Alphabet<br />

Robert Solow<br />

<strong>MIT</strong> Professor of Economics and<br />

Nobel Laureate<br />

Michael Spence<br />

NYU Professor of Economics and<br />

Nobel Laureate<br />

New Venture Fund<br />

Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation<br />

Rockefeller Foundation<br />

Russell Sage Foundation<br />

TDF Foundation<br />

INDIVIDUALS<br />

Nobuo N. Akiha<br />

Wesley Chan<br />

Aaron Cowen<br />

Joe Eastin<br />

Michael Even<br />

Ellen and Bruce Herzfelder<br />

Reid Hoffman<br />

Richard B. Homonoff<br />

Edward S. Hyman, Jr.<br />

Gustavo Pierini<br />

Gustavo Marini<br />

Tom Pappas<br />

Jeff & Liesl Wilke<br />

and other individuals who prefer to<br />

remain anonymous<br />

Benefitfocus<br />

Boston Globe Media Partners<br />

Bruegel<br />

Capgemini<br />

Center for Global Enterprise<br />

Dell EMC<br />

Facebook<br />

General Motors<br />

Grant Thornton<br />

Graphika, Inc.<br />

IRC4HR<br />

KPMG<br />

MassMutual<br />

Modis<br />

Microsoft<br />

Schneider Electric<br />

The SWIFT Institute<br />

Despite the continuing pandemic<br />

in <strong>2021</strong>, our remote yet technologyenabled<br />

world continued to spin.<br />

We embraced the circumstances<br />

as best we could. I am so very<br />

proud of our staff, who have<br />

not only remained unbelievably<br />

productive, but empathetic to the<br />

inevitable issues of an existential<br />

change to the way we work and<br />

live. Finance Administrator, Joanne<br />

Batziotegos; Associate Director of<br />

Finance, Tammy Buzzell; Associate<br />

Director, Devin Cook; Editorial<br />

Content Director, Paula Klein; and<br />

Assistant Director of Marketing<br />

and Events, Carrie Reynolds: You<br />

are all amazing. This small team<br />

packages, promotes, and presents<br />

our ideas for a broad audience –<br />

from our generous stakeholders<br />

(the individuals, corporations, and<br />

foundations named above) to<br />

academia, public policy pundits,<br />

and the press.<br />

<strong>2021</strong> was a year in which we<br />

deepened our focus on six<br />

new areas of research: Renée<br />

Richardson Gosline leading The<br />

Human/AI Interface; Dave Rand<br />

leading Misinformation & Fake<br />

News; Dean Eckles heading<br />

up Social Networks & Digital<br />

Experimentation; John Horton<br />

focusing on Labor Economics &<br />

Online Marketplaces; Andy McAfee<br />

driving Tech for Good; and “Sandy”<br />

Pentland leading our Data-Driven<br />

Societies efforts. And we launched<br />

several new research projects,<br />

including Quantum Computing<br />

(Neil Thompson, Andy McAfee,<br />

and Jonathan Ruane) and the<br />

Metaverse and Digital Assets<br />

(Sinan Aral). Watch for more on<br />

these in 2022.<br />

The <strong>IDE</strong> continues to be at the<br />

forefront of how new technologies<br />

impact individuals, industry, the<br />

economy, and society. We don’t<br />

shy away from difficult or politically<br />

fueled topics. We analyze<br />

them. We put them into context.<br />

And we do so with a directive for<br />

positive change.<br />

The <strong>IDE</strong> is unique, essential,<br />

and ever-more needed in our<br />

accelerating digital world. We<br />

appreciate the support of our<br />

stakeholders and the <strong>MIT</strong> and <strong>MIT</strong><br />

Sloan ecosystems that allow us to<br />

thrive.<br />

May the coming year treat us all<br />

well.<br />

11

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