Alex 'Sandy' Pentland

Professor of Media Arts and Sciences; Toshiba Professor
  • Human Dynamics

Professor Alex 'Sandy' Pentland has helped create and direct the MIT Media Lab and the Media Lab Asia in India, and is  a HAI Fellow at Stanford.. 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 co-led the World Economic Forum discussion in Davos that led to the EU privacy regulation GDPR, and was one of the UN Secretary General's  "Data Revolutionaries" helping to forge the transparency and accountability mechanisms in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.  He has received numerous awards and distinctions such as  MIT's Toshiba endowed chair, election to the U.S. Academy of Engineering, 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 formerly the OECD,  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 spin-off companies include (mental health services), (AI coaching for interaction management), Wise Systems (delivery planning and optimization),  Sila Money (stable bank and coin), Akoya (secure, privacy-preserving financial interactions),  and Prosperia (Fairness and bias mitigation for social services throughout Latin America), and  Array Insights  (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 scienceorganizational engineeringwearable 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.

Professor Alex 'Sandy' Pentland

Connection Science
Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program


Business and Engineering


Recent Awards


Beyond Viral
Sustainable Digital Ecologies (Davos)
Breakthrough Idea of the Year talk at Davos   
Honest Signals
Reality Mining
Ooh La La

Curriculum Vitae
Research Papers
Older Papers