Manuel Cebrian

Scalable Cooperation
  • Research Scientist

Dr. Manuel Cebrian is a research scientist manager with the Scalable Cooperation group at the MIT Media Lab. He is best known for designing the recursive incentive structure that mobilized participants to solve the DARPA Network Challenge, the Department of State Tag Challenge, the DARPA Shredder Challenge, among other time-critical social mobilization challenges.

Cebrian came to MIT from CSIRO, where he developed tools for nowcasting disaster damage using crowdsourced data. Before CSIRO, he was based at the University of California, San Diego, where he was immersed in large-scale crowdsourcing competitions. Cebrian gained hands-on experience with social networks through his postdoctoral training with Telefonica and Brown University.

Cebrian earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, where his thesis received the dissertation of the year award for his work on plagiarism networks, as well as a test-of-time award 10 years after its defense. 

Cebrian's crowdsourcing projects have attracted the attention of millions of participants, regularly featu… View full description

Dr. Manuel Cebrian is a research scientist manager with the Scalable Cooperation group at the MIT Media Lab. He is best known for designing the recursive incentive structure that mobilized participants to solve the DARPA Network Challenge, the Department of State Tag Challenge, the DARPA Shredder Challenge, among other time-critical social mobilization challenges.

Cebrian came to MIT from CSIRO, where he developed tools for nowcasting disaster damage using crowdsourced data. Before CSIRO, he was based at the University of California, San Diego, where he was immersed in large-scale crowdsourcing competitions. Cebrian gained hands-on experience with social networks through his postdoctoral training with Telefonica and Brown University.

Cebrian earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, where his thesis received the dissertation of the year award for his work on plagiarism networks, as well as a test-of-time award 10 years after its defense. 

Cebrian's crowdsourcing projects have attracted the attention of millions of participants, regularly featuring in major media outlets, such as WiredThe EconomistThe Guardian, and The New York Times, as well as prominent academic journals, including ScienceNature Communications, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In his spare time, Cebrian writes mystery stories and makes art. 

Selected Crowdsourcing Projects 

DARPA Network Challenge, with G. Pickard, W. Pan, R. Crane, A. Madan, I. Rahwan, and A. Pentland. The New York TimesRachel MaddowMSNBCPopular MechanicsMIT NewsIEEE MultimediaScience News.

Tag Challenge, with Alex Rutherford, Sohan Dsouza, and Iyad Rahwan. Scientific AmericanMIT Technology ReviewNew ScientistWired.

 DARPA Shredder Challenge, with Andrea Vattani, Karyn Benson, Wilson Lian, Dan Ricketts, and Iyad Rahwan. MediumNautilusCNETSan Diego Union-TribuneUC San Diego News IUC San Diego News IIKPBSPhys.orgEl PaisRTVE.

The "Evil AI" trilogy: ShelleyNorman, and The Nightmare Machine, with P. Yanardag, N. Obradovich, and I. Rahwan.  InstagramWashington Post,  FortuneAssociated PressTimeCo.DesignNewsweekNew ScientistWashington PostThe AtlanticForbesBBCNPRCNETNBC NewsViceBoston GlobeFiveThirtyEight, The Onion, and others. 

The Aesthetics of AbsenceDeep AngelMiss.O, AI Spirits, and BeeMe, with M. Groh, Z. Epstein,  N. Pescetelli, N. Obradovich. and I. Rahwan et al. New York Times, Le Monde, AeonFast Company, ArtsyProduct Hunt,  Instagram, exhibited at the ECCV Workshop on Fashion, Art, and Design, and the NeurIPS 2018 Workshop for Machine Learning for Creativity and Design

Turing Box: Democratizing the study and production of artificial intelligence, with Z. Epstein, B. H.  Payne, et al. IJCAI 2018The Economist Nautilus, Workshop on Machine Behavior, Harvard Business Review

Deep Empathy, with P. Yanardag, M. Garcia-Herranz, Z. Rahwan,  N.Obradovich, I. Rahwan, et al. UNICEFCo. DesignDigital TrendsAtlas Obscura, and others

Spam Church: Decentralized art movement subverting technohegemony, with C. Almenar, Z. Epstein, M. Groh, J. Balsa, et al. Walter Benjamin Museum of Spam Art, The Ever Contracting VoidIs This a Book Club?, Nostalgia BoxLilly Chin's ReviewNiccolo Pescetelli's ReviewMadrid Chapter.

A Brief History of Social Search: Searching for SomeoneBecoming Someone, and Beyond Viral.

Selected Academic Publications

For a comprehensive list of publications, check Cebrian's Google Scholar profile, his Semantic Scholar profile, his Research Gate profile, or his DBLP bibliography.

Time-critical social mobilization, G. Pickard, W. Pan, I. Rahwan, M. Cebrian, R. Crane, A. Madan, and A. Pentland, Science 334(6055):509-512 (2011). New York TimesRachel MadowMSNBCPopular MechanicsMIT NewsIEEE MultimediaScience News.

Reflecting on the DARPA Red Balloon Challenge, J. Tang, M. Cebrian, N. Giacobe, H-W. Kim, T. Kim, D. Wickert, Communications of the ACM 54(4):78-85 (2011).

Finding red balloons with split contracts: robustness to individuals' selfishness, M. Cebrian, L. Coviello, A. Vattani, P. Voulgaris, Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC) pp. 775-788, New York, USA (2012). Talk videoYaron Singer's Lecture Notes.

Limits of social mobilization, A. Rutherford, M. Cebrian, S. Dsouza, E. Moro, A. Pentland, and I. Rahwan, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 110(16):6281-6286 (2013). NBCYahoo! NewsArabian GazetteLa Repubblica.

Error and attack tolerance of collective problem solving: The DARPA Shredder Challenge, N. Stefanovich, A. Alshamsi, M. Cebrian, I. Rahwan, EPJ Data Science 3:13 (2014). MediumNautilusCNETSan Diego Union-TribuneUC San Diego News IUC San Diego News IIKPBSPhys.orgEl PaisRTVE.

Global manhunt pushes the limits of social mobilization, I. Rahwan, S. Dsouza, A. Rutherford, V. Naroditskiy, J. McInerney, M. Venanzi, N. Jennings, M. Cebrian, Computer 46(4):68-75 (2013). Scientific AmericanMIT Technology ReviewNew ScientistWired.

Crowdsourcing contest dilemma, V. Naroditskiy, N. Jennings, P. Van Hentenryck, M. Cebrian, Journal of The Royal Society Interface 11:20140532 (2014). Social Physics BlogThe AustralianABC RadioQuartzLifeHackerThe ConversationUniversity of Southampton.

Urban characteristics attributable to density-driven tie formation, W. Pan, G. Ghoshal, C. Krumme, M. Cebrian, and A. Pentland, Nature Communications 4, 1961 (2013). Featured in PNAS Core Concepts in Computational Social Science, The New York TimesThe Atlantic CitiesThe EconomistSmithsonianMIT News. See related work on Urban Crime, covered by CIO, and our analysis of the capacity of cities to Organize Social Events.

Small cities face greater impact from automationFrank, M. R., Sun, L., Cebrian, M., Youn, H., & Rahwan, I. (2018). Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 15(139). Visualization: Kellogg Insight. Video: EmTech Talk. Selected Media: MIT Technology ReviewNew ScientistMIT Task Force on the Work of the Future.

Cooperating with Machines, J. Crandal et al. Nature Communications, 9:233 (2018.) Video abstract.  Science MagazineScience DailyLa RepubblicaMIT Technology ReviewLe Monde.  Code: Comparison of algorithms | S#.  Included in Nature Collection: The multidisciplinary nature of machine intelligenceNature Human Behavior.

Rapid assessment of disaster damage using social media activity, Y. Kryvasheyeu, H. Chen, N. Obradovich, E. Moro, P. Van Hentenryck, J. Fowler, and M. Cebrian, Science Advances 2, e1500779 (2016). Science MagazineWall Street JournalThe Washington PostSmithsonianMichigan DailyDie WeltDeutschlandfunkDagens NyheterScience NewsEl PaisLa VanguardiaAltmetric. Dataset available at Dryad Digital Repository.

Using friends as sensors to detect global-scale contagious outbreaks, M. Garcia-Herranz, E. Moro, M. Cebrian, N. Christakis, J. Fowler, PLoS ONE 9(4):e92413 (2014). MIT Technology ReviewYale University NewsChronicleBusiness WeekUniversidad Carlos III de MadridHuffington Post.

Social sensing for epidemiological behavior change, A. Madan, M. Cebrian, D. Lazer, A. Pentland, Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp) pp. 291-300, Copenhagen, Denmark (2010). Ginger.ioNature News.

Analyzing gender inequality through large-scale Facebook advertising dataD. Garcia, Y.M. Kassa, A. Cuevas, M. Cebrian, E. Moro, I. Rahwan, R. Cuevas, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201717781 (2018). Scientific American, El Pais

Inferring mechanisms for global constitutional progressA. Rutherford, Y. Lupu, M. Cebrian, I. Rahwan, B.L. LeVeck, et al. Nature Human Behaviour, 2 (8), 592 (2018). Nature NewsConstitutionology Interactive Microsite.

Additional News Coverage

English coverage: New York TimesNatureThe EconomistPopular ScienceNature NewsNew ScientistThe AtlanticWiredMIT Technology ReviewNautilusMediumThe Atlantic's CitylabYale NewsThe ConversationThe AustralianMIT Technology ReviewThe AustralianAustralian Broadcasting CorporationCIOTransparency InternationalArts HubMxScience NewsScience MagazineWall Street JournalThe Washington PostSmithsonianDie WeltDeutschlandfunkDagens NyheterThe AdvertiserWikimedia Research ShowcaseAustralian National UniversityMIT Technology ReviewThe AtlanticForbesMotherboardMIT Sloan Management ReviewWashington PostThe AtlanticForbesBBCNPRCNETNBC NewsViceBoston GlobeFiveThirtyEightCCCBLabNewsweekPLOS Research NewsThe Weather Channel,  Yahoo UK NewsQuartzMIT Tech Review. 

Spanish coverage: El PaisEl MundoCinco DiasMuy InteresanteEl ConfidencialAhora SemanalRTVECinco DiasEl PaisMadri+dEl PaisLa VanguardiaCadena SerNada es GratisEl PaisEl ConfidencialYorokobuEl ConfidencialUniversidad Pablo de OlavideEl PaisSacyrCCCBLab., La Vanguardia

E-mail

cebrian@media.mit.edu

Phone

+1 617 253 5960

Mailing Address 

MIT Media Lab
77 Massachusetts Avenue, E14/E15
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
USA