Irving Wladawsky-Berger

The Social Network Is the Computer

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“Human beings have always been a social species,” writes MIT professor Sinan Aral in the opening paragraph of The Hype Machine , his recently published book. “We’ve been communicating, cooperating, and coordinating with one another since we were hunting and gathering.”

Why 70 Percent of Digital Transformations Fail

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“Companies either transform or die in industrial revolutions,” writes former P&G executive Tony Saldanha in his recently published book Why Digital Transformations Fail. “Digital transformation is our current generation’s attempt to transform in the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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User-Based Free Innovation

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

How Will the Pandemic Reshape Labor Markets?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Issues 177

Reflections on the Later Stages of Our Careers

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

I recently read “ Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think ,” an essay in The Atlantic by social scientist and author Arthur C. Brooks. Brooks essay is a personal reflection on professional careers.

The State of AI Adoption - High Performers Show the Way

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

For the past few years, the McKinsey Global Institute has been conducting a yearly survey to assess the state of AI adoption. Its 2017 survey of over 3,000 AI-aware executive found that outside the technology sector, AI adoption was at an early, often experimental stage.

The AI Factory: A New Kind of Digital Operating Model

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Data 165

Getting Through Highly Uncertain Times - Some Lessons Learned

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

What does it take to get through highly uncertain times, like the ones we’re in the middle of as we confront the Covid-19 pandemic? Like most of us, I’ve lived through times of high uncertainty in both my personal and professional lives.

Scenario Planning - Formulating Strategy in the Face of High Uncertainty

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“How can we formulate strategy in the face of uncertainty?,” asks Learning from the Future , a recent Harvard Business Review article by Peter Scoblic , in its opening sentence.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Social Distancing Policies

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

One of the most interesting projects in the MIT Connection Science group I ’ m affiliated with is The Atlas of Inequality.

Reconnecting Society and Reopening the Economy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

A few months ago, MIT Connection Science held it’s annual Sponsors’ Meeting online. The virtual meeting included a number of very interesting presentations.

How to Survive and Thrive in a World of Disruption

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Looking back upon my long career , it’s frankly sobering how many once powerful IT companies are no longer around or are shadows of their former selves, e,g, Digital , Wang , Sun Microsystems , BlackBerry.

How To 257

Why “The Techlash” Is a Threat to Growth and Progress

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

A few months ago, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) published A Policymaker’s Guide to the “Techlash” - What It Is and Why It’s a Threat to Growth and Progress. “Does information technology (IT) solve problems and make our lives easier, allowing us to do more with less?,”

Report 201

Conceptualizing AI in Human Terms is Misleading and Potentially Harmful

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“We speak of machines that think , learn , and infer.

Data 238

Remote Work is Surprisingly Productive, But For Many… Something Is Missing

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

What If Working From Home Goes on … Forever? asks science and technology journalist Clive Thompson in the title of his June 9 NY Times Magazine article. “The coronavirus crisis is forcing white-collar America to reconsider nearly every aspect of office life.

Are We Becoming a Decadent, Stagnating Society?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Earlier this year I read a very interesting essay, “ The Age of Decadence ”, by NY Times columnist Ross Douthat. The essay is adapted from his recently published book The Decadent Society - How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success. This long essay covers a lot of ground, from technology and innovation to politics and religion. The essay was published in early February, before Covid-19 spread across the US.

Why Some AI Efforts Succeed While Many Fail

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Winning with AI , - a 2019 report based on a survey jointly conducted by the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group , - found that 90% of respondents agree that AI represents a business opportunity for their company.

Survey 220

Building a More Resilient, Data-Driven Economy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“With each major crisis, be it war, pandemic, or major new technology, there has been a need to reinvent the relationships between individuals, businesses, and government,” wrote MIT professor Alex “Sandy Pentland in the first chapter of Building the New Economy. Pentland cites two major historical examples.

Data 174

How Will Covid-19 Transform Urban Life?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

In Why America’s Richest Cities Keep Getting Richer , a 2017 article in The Atlantic , urban studies professor and author Richard Florida wrote: “The most important and innovative industries and the most talented, most ambitious, and wealthiest people are converging as never before in a relative handful of leading superstar cities that are knowledge and tech hubs.

System 161

Can Democracy and Free Markets Survive in the Coming Age of AI?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Can technology plan economies and destroy democracy?

Data 196

The Urgent Need to Strengthen the Nation’s Resilience

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Following World War II and the onset of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the US undertook a series of measures to strengthen the resilience of the country. These included a significant expansion of government support for scientific research in universities and R&D labs, leading to product innovations from the private sector and better weapons from the defense industry, - and making the US the most prosperous and secure nation in the world.

Price 175

An Increasingly Digital “New Normal”

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

About a dozen years ago, I attended a conference where I was interviewed on stage by then WSJ technology columnist Walter Mossberg. He started out by asking me about IBM’s near-death experience in the early 1990s, and the subsequent technical and cultural transformation that made it possible for IBM to reinvent itself and survive, while many other IT companies didn’t make it.

Data 165

Blockchain and Public Health Solutions

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

The Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) is a global think tank dedicated to the strategic implications of blockchain technologies to business, government and society. On March 26, I participated in a virtual roundtable convened by the BRI to discuss the potential use of blockchain technologies for public health solutions. The roundtable’s findings and recommendations were released in early April in Blockchain Solutions in Pandemics : A Call for Innovation and Transformation in Public Health.

The Economic Value of Artificial Intelligence

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

PwC recently released a report on the potential economic value of AI to different regions and industry sectors around the world.

Data 263

Honest Conversations - The Key to a Winning Transformational Strategy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“Nearly every organization - whether private, social, or governmental - is grappling with huge strategic challenges, often with a need to reimagine its very purpose, identity, strategy, business model, and structure,” writes Harvard emeritus professor Michael Beer in his recently published book Fit for Competition. “Most of these efforts to transform will fail. And in most cases, they miss the mark not because the new strategy is flawed, but because the organization can’t carry it out.”.

The 2019 Artificial Intelligence Index

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

AI has emerged as the defining technology of our era, as transformative over time as the steam engine, electricity, and the Internet. While still in its early stages, AI is already reshaping the economy, society, our personal lives and the very nature of work, with much more to come as the technology and applications mature, including the scientific research necessary to anticipate and fight future pandemics. But, what’s the current state of AI and where is it heading?

Data 168

Automation and the Changing Demand for Workforce Skills

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

In 2015, the McKinsey Global Institute launched a multi-year study to explore the potential impact of automation technologies on jobs, organizations and the future of work. In the intervening three years, the study has published a number of report on the subject.

Skills 255

The Internet of Things is Changing the World

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“How the world will change as computers spread into everyday objects,” is the title of the lead article in a comprehensive review of the Internet of Things (IoT) in a r ecent issue of The Economist. Like many technological advances, IoT has been long in coming.

Change 179

What History Tells Us About the Accelerating AI Revolution

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

A few weeks before our lives were turned upside down by Covid-19, I read Technology at Work v4.0 , the fourth report in the Technology at Work Series developed by Citigroup in collaboration with Oxford University. The report includes an excellent chapter on What History Tells Us About the Coming AI Revolution by Oxford professor Carl Benedikt Frey based on his 2019 book The Technology Trap.

The Post-Pandemic Enterprise: What Will It Be Like?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

In the near term, nations have been mostly focused on surviving the massive disruptions caused by Covid-19. But, what about the longer term? What will the post-pandemic new normal be like for societies and economies? More specifically, how will the pandemic impact the world of business? How can enterprises leverage the crisis to accelerate their journey toward what most everyone agrees will be an even faster changing future?

Data 141

The Coming Era of Decision Machines

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is the pursuit of machines that are able to act purposefully to make decisions towards the pursuit of goals,” wrote Harvard professor David Parkes in A Responsibility to Judge Carefully in the Era of P rediction Decision Machines , an essay recently published as part of Harvard’s Digital Initiative. “Machines need to be able to predict to decide, but decision making requires much more.

Data 160

Even When Plans Are Useless, Planning Is Indispensable

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“As scientists race to develop a cure for the coronavirus, businesses are trying to assess the impact of the outbreak on their own enterprises,” wrote MIT professor Yossi Sheffi in a February 18 article in the Wall Street Journal. “Just as scientists are confronting an unknown enemy, corporate executives are largely working blind because the coronavirus could cause supply-chain disruptions that are unlike anything we have seen in the past 70 years.”.

The State of AI in the Enterprise

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

A few months ago, Babson College professor Tom Davenport gave a talk on the state of AI in the enterprise at the annual conference of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. His talk was based on two recent US surveys conducted by Deloitte, the first one in 2017 followed by a second in 2018. Davenport was a co-author of both reports. The 2017 survey was focused on the responses of 250 US executives who were leading the applications of AI in their companies.

Survey 196

The Long-Term Future of Work and Education: Three Potential Scenarios

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“Experts differ widely in their predictions about how technological innovation will change the labor market, but they all see a need for changes in education,” write British professors Ewart Keep and Phillip Brown in a recently published article, Rethinking the Race Between Education and Technology. While experts don’t generally agree on much, they’re pretty much of one mind when it comes to the growing importance of skills and education in our 21st century digital economy.

Dealing with a Highly Unpredictable Future

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

The high degree of uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic is one of its most frustrating qualities. How long will the pandemic last? When will normal life return? When will a vaccine be available? Not only don’t we have definitive answers, we don’t even know how to best frame these critical questions. The answers we get from the most trusted of experts feel too vague, - their explanations by caveats and probabilities, - as they should.

Trends 152

Innovation and National Security in the 21st Century

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Using Agile Processes to Develop AI-Based Solutions

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

In the waterfall development model , a project is broken down into a set of sequential phases, - e.g., conception, analysis, design, construction, testing, deployment, maintenance, - each dependent on the completion of the previous phase. Such a model is most appropriate for complex engineering projects, like bridges, airplanes and computer hardware.

The Long-Term Impact of Early-Career Setbacks

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Fail fast, fail often is one of Silicon Valley’s best known mantras. Is there something to this belief that if you’re not failing fast and often you may be stuck in a stagnating endeavor? After all, social scientists have their own Matthew Effect , - i.e., the rich get richer and t he famous get more famous, - as evidenced in our age of rising economic inequality and superstar dynamics.

Groups 120

The Puzzling Economic Impact of Transformative Technologies

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“General purpose technologies (GPTs) are engines for growth ,…” wrote Erik Brynjolfsson , Daniel Rock , and Chad Syverson in The Productivity J-Curve , a working paper recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). “These are the defining technologies of their times and can radically change the economic environment.

The Impact of AI on the World Economy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

A few weeks ago I wrote about the economic value of AI based on a recently published report by PwC. The report’s overriding finding was that AI technologies and applications will increase global GDP by up to 14% between now and 2030, the equivalent of an additional $15.7

Data 228

Can AI Help Develop and Execute a Competitive Business Strategy?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

The Transformative Power of Blockchain

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“Blockchain matters because no business operates in isolation,” says Blockchain for Business , a recently published book by Jai Arun , Jerry Cuomo , and Nitin Gaur. “Multiple institutions can achieve more together than any single institution can alone. By implementing business processes that leverage the collective knowledge of the group, processes can be orders of magnitude more cost-efficient. New processes that were not possible before blockchain, can be created.

Serverless Computing - An Innovative Approach to Software Development

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

I n October of 2008, The Economist published a special report on a then relatively new, rapidly growing IT development, - cloud computing.