Interview with Alex Pentland: Can We Use Big Data to Make Society Better?

In a SPIEGEL interview, American data scientist Alex Pentland discusses how data streams can be used to determine the laws of human interaction. He argues the information can be used to help forge better societies.Alex Pentland, 62, heads the Human Dynamics Lab at the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is considered one of the world’s leading data scientists. In his new book, “Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread — The Lessons from a New Science,” he argues that human communication behaviors follow the rules of mathematics. He says that with the aid of a computer, it is possible to monitor people in ways sufficient to detect these rules. The use of Big Data is proving to be just as important to social scientists as the telescope once was for astronomers.SPIEGEL recently sat down with Pentland for an extensive interview about his work.

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