Where do ideas come from? How do they get put into action? How can we create social structures that are productive and creative?
If the Big Data revolution has a presiding genius, it is MIT’s Alex Pentland, whose research has led to the creation of more than 30 companies. Yet according to his research, innovation doesn’t come from a few super-bright people; it comes from idea flow, the way ideas are spread.
Thanks to the rise of smartphones, GPS devices, and the internet, the flow of ideas can now be tracked. Sociologists no longer need to rely on surveys or abstract models. With stunning accuracy, social physics allows us to predict — and improve — how effective a network is, whether it’s a search-and-rescue operation, a business, or a city. Pentland is the perfect guide through the wonders and challenges of an entirely new way to look at life itself.