Alex 'Sandy' Pentland, MIT Toshiba Professor & Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program Director
Professor Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland directs MIT Connection Science, an MIT-wide initiative, and previously helped create and direct the MIT Media Lab and the Media Lab Asia in India. He is one of the most-cited computational scientists in the world, and Forbes declared him one of the “7 most powerful data scientists in the world” along with Google founders and the Chief Technical Officer of the United States. He is on the Board of the UN Foundations’ Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, co-led the World Economic Forum discussion in Davos that led to the EU privacy regulation GDPR, and was central in forging the transparency and accountability mechanisms in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. He has received numerous awards and prizes such as the McKinsey Award from Harvard Business Review, the 40th Anniversary of the Internet from DARPA, and the Brandeis Award for work in privacy. Recent invited keynotes include annual meetings of OECD, G20, World Bank, and JP Morgan.
He is a member of advisory boards for the UN Secretary General, the UN Foundation, Consumers Union, and OECD, and formerly the American Bar Association, Google, AT&T, and Nissan. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and council member within the World Economic Forum.
Companies co-founded or incubated by Pentland’s lab include the largest rural health care service delivery system in the world , the news and advertising arm of Alibaba , the identity authentication technology that powers India’s digital identity system Aadahar, and rural service outlets for India’s largest payment solutions provider .
More recent companies include Ginger.io (mental health services), CogitoCorp.com (AI coaching for interaction management), Humanyze.com (organizational health), Endor.com (turn-key, privacy-preserving AI), Wise Systems (delivery planning and optimization), Riff Analytics (on-line meeting enhancement), Sila Money (stable bank and coin), Akoya (secure, privacy-preserving financial interactions), FortifID (digital identity), Collaborative Community Services (investment in underserved communities), Prosperia (Fairness and bias mitigation for social services throughout Latin America), and Secure AI Labs (federated medical data analytics).
Over the years Sandy has advised more than 80 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. Together Sandy and his students have pioneered computational social science, organizational engineering, wearable computing (Google Glass), image understanding, and modern biometrics. His most recent books are Building the New Economy and Trusted Data, both published by MIT Press, Social Physics, published by Penguin Press, and Honest Signals, published by MIT Press.
Interesting experiences include dining with British Royalty and the President of India, staging fashion shows in Paris, Tokyo, and New York, and developing a method for counting beavers from space.