Alex Pentland

Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences
Director, Human Dynamics Lab
Director, MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program
School of Architecture and Planning
School of Engineering


Alex Pentland

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 scienceorganizational engineeringwearable 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.

Faculty Media

  • Our Smartphones Are a Tool for Democracy

    An interview with Alex Pentland on how the data from our smartphones could help us make predictions about crime rates, economic growth, health and unemployment.

  • MIT’s Sandy Pentland: Big Data Can Be a Profoundly Humanizing Force in Industry

    Sandy Pentland, one of Forbes’ seven most powerful data scientists in the world, is director of the Human Dynamics Lab at the MIT Media Lab and has been leading the big data revolution for decades....

  • Research: You Have Fewer Friends than You Think

    When we analyzed self-reported relationship surveys from several experiments around the world, we found that while most people assume friendships are two-way, only about half of friendships are...

  • MIT Adopts Ripple Validator To Advance the 'Internet of Value'

    MIT's Connection Science, a research initiative that applies data and analytics with the goal of building better societies, has adopted a validator for the Ripple Consensus Ledger to advance...

  • The UX Of Ethics: Should Google Tell You If You Have Cancer?

    Big data can spot things we'd never see coming. But are companies like Google and Amazon responsible for telling us the bad news?

  • MIT Advances Blockchain Research With Ripple

    MIT is pushing forward with its blockchain research — with the help of Ripple.

  • Can Data Analysis Help Change Behaviors?

    Can scientists prove whether individual behaviors, such as eating or exercise habits, are contagious? Research from Alex 'Sandy' Pentland, Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and the Director of...

  • Google Adviser Calls on Tech Giant to Create a Separate Organization for Data

    Sandy Pentland, MIT professor, talks to the Guardian about the ‘crowd-madness’ of social media and why tech giants such as Google must separate and protect users’ data

  • In Defense of Meetings

    So meetings in and of themselves are not bad. We just need to change the structure of meetings—literally and physically. First we need to change the social structure of meetings. In our...

  • Why Startups Should Steal Ideas and Hire Weirdos

    The most consistently creative and insightful people are explorers. They spend an enormous amount of time seeking out new people and different ideas, without necessarily trying very hard to find...


Contact Information

Office: E15-387
Phone: 617-253-0648
Fax: 617-258-6264
Support Staff

Teaches In

Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy (self-paced online) May 13-Jun 30, 2020 | Jun 24-Aug 11, 2020 | Aug 12-Sep 29, 2020 | Sep 16-Nov 3, 2020 | Oct 21-Dec 8, 2020 | Nov 25, 2020-Jan 26, 2021

Machine Learning in Business (self-paced online) May 13-Jun 30, 2020 | Jul 1-Aug 18, 2020 | Sep 2-Oct 20, 2020 | Oct 28-Dec 15, 2020