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MIT and the Digital Economy:
The Second Machine Age 

A conference highlighting the award-winning research of MIT's faculty, the business contributions of alumni, 
and the perspectives of some of the most influential people in high tech.



David Schmittlein


John C Head III Dean, MIT Sloan School of Management

David Schmittlein is the John C Head III Dean and professor of marketing at the MIT Sloan School of Management. His focus has been to broaden MIT Sloan’s global visibility, to work with the faculty in creating new high-quality management education programs, to develop enhanced educational opportunities for current students, and to develop and disseminate business knowledge that has impact and that will stand the test of time. He also has reached out to the many members of MIT’s alumni community to gain their valuable insights on MIT Sloan and management education.

Prior to his appointment at MIT Sloan, Schmittlein was the Ira A. Lipman professor and professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania from 1980 until 2007. He also served as interim dean during July 2007 and as deputy dean from 2000 to 2007, and was chair of the editorial board for Wharton School Publishing. His research assesses marketing processes and develops methods for improving marketing decisions. He is widely regarded for his work estimating the impact of a firm’s marketing actions, designing market and survey research, and creating effective communication strategies.

Schmittlein has served as a consultant on these issues for numerous firms, including American Express, American Home Products, AT&T, Bausch & Lomb, Boston Scientific, Ford Motor Company, Gianni Versace S.p.A., Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Pfizer, Revlon, Siebe PLC, the Oakland Raiders, The Quaker Oats Co., and Time Warner. His work has been published in leading journals in marketing, management, economics, and statistics. In addition, he has been an area editor for Marketing Science and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Interactive Marketing, the Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Letters, and Marketing Science.

Schmittlein serves on the International Advisory Board for Groupe HEC, the Governing Board of the Indian School of Business, the International Advisory Board of Lingnan (University) College of Sun Yat-sen University, and the Advisory Board for the School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua University. He has served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council for Marketing and Branding. He has been a visiting professor in the faculty of economics at Tokyo University and a distinguished scholar in residence at Washington University’s John M. Olin School of Business. Schmittlein has received awards for his research, his editorial work, and his teaching. His observations and research have been cited often in the popular press, including Advertising Age, Business 2.0, BusinessWeek,, Computerworld, Fortune, NPR’s Marketplace, People’s Daily Online, Reuters, The ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, and USA Today.

Schmittlein holds a BA in mathematics from Brown University and an MPhil and a PhD in business from Columbia University.

Andrew McAfee, ’88, ’89, LGO ’90


Co-Director, Initiative on the Digital Economy

The 'computer revolution' has accelerated recently, and it's not just one revolution. After decades of frustratingly slow progress the field of artificial intelligence has in the past few years seen significant breakthroughs in natural language processing, image recognition, inference, and other fundamental areas. Autonomous vehicles and robots have made similarly large strides, sometimes literally. The work of innovation and knowledge creation has opened up immeasurably as hundreds of millions of people (soon to be billions) have come online with powerful devices. And Moore's Law keeps operating to make computing better and cheaper and big data keeps getting bigger. Any one of these advances would be a significant development for our businesses, economies, and societies; in combination they're bringing the biggest changes since the Industrial Revolution.


IDE cofounder Andrew McAfee has begun to explore these changes in Race Against the Machine and The Second Machine Age, his two books with Erik Brynjolfsson, as well as in his other work. He believes that as digital technologies continue to advance quickly, it's important to follow them out of the lab and into the real world in order to observe their effects on performance, competition, and organization and to learn how to best combine the capabilities of people and machines. He takes a cue from science fiction author William Gibson's observation that "the future is already here; it's just not evenly distributed." In that case, a sound strategy is to combine firsthand observation and more systematic data in order to understand where the future is farthest along, and how leaders can best shape it.


Andy's primary research falls into three areas:


  1. Quantifying the business impact of recent advances in artificial intelligence. Deep learning and other techniques have revitalized the field of machine learning and enabled rapid progress in many problem areas. What happens when these advances are deployed in an industrial setting? How much and how quickly do performance measures change? How do the roles of people involve? 
  2. Researching and writing a business book about the second machine age. How should business leaders take advantage of the fact that technology is racing ahead? How should they rethink strategies, redesign processes, and change structures? How should they organize, innovate, and go to market differently? Andy and Erik will continue their joint investigation of how digital progress is changing the business world.
  3. Exploring the societal choices we'll face as we continue to digitize. Technology is racing ahead, which is the best economic news on the planet, but as it's doing so it's leaving a lot of people behind. Inequality is growing in the US (and around the world) and the average worker is losing ground. These realities have given rise to a huge range of policy suggestions covering everything from taxation to regulation to education. Which ones are best for the second machine age? Will we at some point need to fundamentally rethink the pillars of our current capitalist economic systems? 

Erik Brynjolfsson, PhD ’91


 Director, Initiative on the Digital Economy
Schussel Family Professor of Management Science, MIT Sloan School of Management 

Erik Brynjolfsson is the Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, a Professor at the MIT Sloan School, Chairman of the Sloan Management Review and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His widely cited research examines a variety of aspects of information technology, strategy, productivity, marketing and employment has been recognized with 10 Best Paper prizes and five patents. He teaches a popular MBA courses on the Economics of Information and an executive program on Big Data. His talk for the opening session of TED 2013 laid out an optimistic vision for the future of economic growth.

Prof. Brynjolfsson is a director or advisor for several technology-intensive firms and lectures worldwide on technology and strategy. His books include New York Times Bestseller The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a time of Brilliant Technologies, co-authored with Andrew McAfee. He received AB and SM degrees from Harvard and a PhD from MIT. You can keep up with his research via his website: or Twitter: @erikbryn.

Alex 'Sandy' Pentland, PhD '82


Professor, Initiative on the Digital Economy 
Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences
Director, Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program 

Alex 'Sandy' Pentland directs MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, co-leads the World Economic Forum Big Data and Personal Data initiatives, and is a founding member of the Advisory Boards for Nissan, Motorola Mobility, Telefonica, 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.

In 2012 Forbes named Sandy one of the `seven most powerful data scientists in the world’, along with Google founders and the CTO of the United States, and in 2013 he won the McKinsey Award from Harvard Business Review. He is among the most-cited computational scientists in the world, and a pioneer in computational social science, organizational engineering, wearable computing(Google Glass), image understanding, and modern biometrics. His research has been featured in Nature, Science, and Harvard Business Review, as well as being the focus of TV features on BBC World, Discover and Science channels. His most recent book is `Honest Signals,' published by MIT Press.

Over the years Sandy has advised more than 50 PhD students. Almost half are now tenured faculty at leading institutions, with another one-quarter leading industry research groups and a final quarter founders of their own companies.

Sandy's research group and entrepreneurship program have spun off more than 30 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.

Sinan Aral, PhD ’07


Professor, Initiative on the Digital Economy
David Austin Professor of Management and Associate Professor of IT and Marketing, MIT Sloan School of Management

Sinan is the David Austin Professor of Management and Associate Professor of IT and Marketing at MIT.

He was the Chief Scientist at SocialAmp, one of the earliest social commerce analytics companies, until its sale in 2012 and is currently the Chief Scientist at Humin, a social navigation startup developing the “Google Maps” for your social relationships.

He has been a Fulbright Scholar, is currently the Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Times R&D Lab and has worked closely with Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, Nike, IBM, Intel, Cisco, Oracle, SAP and many other leading Fortune 500 firms on realizing business value from social media and IT investments.

His research on social contagion and social networks has won numerous awards from academic and industry peers, including the Microsoft Faculty Fellowship (2010), the PopTech Science Fellowship (2010), an NSF CAREER Award (2009) and the IBM Faculty Award (2009). Most recently, he was named one of the World’s Top 40 Business School Professors Under 40 by Poets and Quants.

Sinan holds masters degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard University, and received his PhD from MIT.

You can find him on Twitter @sinanaral.

Sinan is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University. He holds an MSc from the London School of Economics and an MPP from Harvard University, and received his PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

You can find him on Twitter @sinanaral.

Hilary Mason


Data Scientist in Residence, Accel 

Hilary Mason is a Data Scientist in Residence at Accel, Scientist Emeritus at bitly, co-founder of HackNY, co-host of DataGotham, and member of NYCResistor.

After four years as Chief Scientist at bitly, Hilary is now Scientist Emeritus, advising an amazing team that studies attention on the internet in realtime, doing a mix of research, exploration, and engineering.

She co-founded HackNY, a non-profit that helps talented engineering students find their way into the startup community of creative technologists in New York City.

Hilary is a native New Yorker and she loves this city and the technology community there.

Hilary is an advisor to organizations including Mortar,, collective[i], and DataKind. She is a mentor to Betaspring, the Providence, Rhode Island-based startup accelerator, and TechStars New York.

She is a member of Mayor Bloomberg’s Technology and Innovation Advisory Council, which has been a fascinating way to learn how government and industry can work together.

Hilary has received honors, like the TechFellows Engineering Leadership award, and was on the Forbes 40 under 40 Ones to Watch list and Crain’s New York 40 under Forty list. She has also been in Glamour, Fast Company, Scientific American, and more.

George Colony


Chairman & CEO, Forrester Research, Inc.

As founder, chairman, and CEO of Forrester Research, George is one of the most influential thought leaders in the world of business and technology. He is a trusted advisor to executives around the globe, providing context and clarity around the digital disruptions that change the way we live and work.

George founded Forrester in his basement 30 years ago. He, along with many talented and passionate colleagues, has built the company into one of the world's most successful independent research and advisory firms with locations in more than 30 countries. George personifies the Forrester experience and the company's values with direct, honest advice. "When I meet with a client, I have one mission," George has said. "To tell them something they don't know."

Throughout his career, George has made provocative, tenacious, and groundbreaking calls about business and technology. These include the birth of client/server computing, the dot-com implosion, the rise of social computing, the transition from IT to BT (business technology), and the extended Internet connecting the physical world of things to the digital world of information. Most recently, he has described the business opportunities presented by the App Internet, the new computing model combining the power of local devices with the scale of the cloud. "As the Web becomes the AM radio of digital, the mobile App Internet will rise," George has written. "This market will be dominated by two or three ecosystems — semiclosed worlds built on a closely fitting set of apps, phones, tablets, computers, operating systems, and partners."

You can read George's latest thinking on his blog, The Counterintuitive CEO, or on Twitter at @gcolony.

George is a graduate of Harvard University.

William H. Janeway


Senior Advisor, Warburg Pincus

William H. Janeway is Senior Advisor at Warburg Pincus.  He joined Warburg Pincus in 1988 and was responsible for building the information technology investment practice.  Previously, he was executive vice president and director at Eberstadt Fleming. Dr. Janeway is a director of Magnet Systems, Nuance Communications, O'Reilly Media, and a member of the Board of Managers of Roubini Global Economics. 

Dr. Janeway is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Cambridge in America, University of Cambridge and a Member of the Board of Managers of the Cambridge Endowment for Research in Finance (CERF).  Dr. Janeway is a member of the board of directors of the Social Science Research Council and the board of governors of the Institute for New Economic Thinking and of the Advisory Boards of the Princeton Bendheim Center for Finance and the MIT-Sloan Finance Group. He is the author of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Markets Speculation and the State, published by Cambridge University Press in October 2012.

Dr. Janeway received his doctorate in economics from Cambridge University where he was a Marshall Scholar. He was valedictorian of the class of 1965 at Princeton University.  


Carl Bass

Carl Bass

President and CEO, Autodesk

Carl Bass is president and chief executive officer of Autodesk, the leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software.

Previously he held several executive positions at Autodesk, including CTO and COO.

Bass co-founded Ithaca Software, which was acquired by Autodesk in 1993. He serves on the Board of Directors of Autodesk, E2open, the Art Center College of Design, and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

He is also a member of the Executive Advisory Boards of Cornell Computing and Information Science and the UC Berkeley School of Information. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cornell University.

Zoë Baird


President, Markle Foundation

Zoë Baird has been president of the Markle Foundation since 1998. Under her leadership, Markle has developed collaborations with leaders from diverse sectors to confront major public challenges. Markle has taken on global access to the Internet to avoid a digital divide, reforming the nation’s intelligence community to address modern threats, and using information technology to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. Much of Markle’s work has been embodied in major federal laws, as well as private sector practices. Now, Ms. Baird and Markle are working on an initiative to identify opportunities for renewal of the American Dream in a networked world by leveraging technology and advancing public and private leadership and individual action.

Ms. Baird’s passion for solving large scale problems and improving people’s lives stems from a distinguished career as a lawyer and policy expert in the public and private sectors. After a clerkship with a federal judge, she served in the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice, and as Associate Counsel to President Jimmy Carter, where she worked on such diverse matters as the constitutional authorities of the president and the release of hostages from Iran. Ms. Baird later was Counselor & Staff Executive at General Electric before serving as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Aetna. Ms. Baird’s extensive national security experience led President Bill Clinton to appoint her to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and both his and the George W. Bush administrations to appoint her to other key advisory committees. Ms. Baird founded Lawyers for Children America, which represents abused and neglected children, and currently is a member of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, Chubb and Boston Properties, and is an honorary trustee of the Brookings Institution. Originally from Brooklyn, Ms. Baird grew up in the Seattle area and earned an A.B. and a J.D. from the University of California Berkeley.

Thad Starner


Professor, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

Thad Starner is a wearable computing pioneer.  He is a Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Technical Lead on Google's Glass.  Starner coined the term "augmented reality" in 1990 to describe the types of interfaces he envisioned at the time and has been wearing a head-up display based computer as part of his daily life since 1993, perhaps the longest such experience known.  Thad is a founder of the annual ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computers, now in its 18th year, and has authored over 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications.  He is an inventor on over 60 United States patents awarded or in process.