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David Lazer
Associate Professor
Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University

Announcement of the Eric Mindich Conference on Computational Social
Science, December 7, 12:00-5:45

The development of enormous computational power and the capacity to collect
enormous amounts of data has proven transformational in a number of
scientific fields. The emergence of a computational socialscience has been
slower than in the sciences. However, the combination of the still
exponentially increasing power of computers with a massive increase in the
capturing of data about human behavior makes the emergence of a field of
computational social science desirable, but not inevitable.  The creation
of a field of computational social science poses enormous challenges, but
offers enormous promise to achieve the public good.  The hope is that we
can produce an understanding of the global network on which many global
problems exist: SARS and infectious disease, global warming, strife due to
cultural collisions, and the livability of our cities. That is, can sensing
our society lead to a sensible society?  This conference brings together
the wide array of individuals who are working in this emerging research
area to discuss how we might address these global challenges, and to
evaluate the potential emergence of a field of "computational social

This conference is co-chaired by David Lazer and Sandy Pentland, and
co-sponsored at Harvard by the Institute for Quantitative Social Science
and the Program on Networked Governance, and at MIT by the Legatum Center
for Development and Entrepreneurship and the MIT Living The Future project.

See: for the up to
the minute confererence agenda.  Please also note that video of these
presentations will be deposited at this website.

(All events will take place in room S010, 1730 Cambridge Street)

Friday (December 7):

Lunch (12 to 1:20)

Opening remarks:  Gary King (Harvard), David Lazer (Harvard), Sandy
Pentland (MIT)

Panel 1:  Where is social science hitting its limits on BIG problems?
Gary King (Harvard), Nicholas Christakis (Harvard)

Short break (1:20 to 1:30)

Panel 2:  Where is computer science creating possibilities?  (1:30 to 2:30)
Laszlo Barabasi (Northeastern), Tony Jebara (Columbia), Deb Roy (MIT),
Sandy Pentland (MIT)

Coffee break (2:30 to 3:00)

Panel 3:  Some initial forays in the social sciences (3:00 to 4:30)
Noshir Contractor (Northwestern), Sinan Aral (NYU), Lada Adamic (Michigan),
Alessandro Vespignani (Indiana), David Lazer (Harvard),

Panel 4:  Managing human subjects issues (4:30 to 5:45)
William Bainbridge (NSF), Dean Gallant (Harvard),  Leigh Firn (MIT),
Marshall Van Alstyne (BU), Myron Gutman (Michigan)

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