Jean-Baptiste Michel looks at how we can use large volumes of data to better understand our world.
Jean-Baptiste Michel holds joint academic appointments at Harvard (FQEB Fellow) and Google (Visiting Faculty). His research focusses on using large volumes of data as tools that help better understand the world around us -- from the way diseases progress in patients over years, to the way cultures change in human societies over centuries. With his colleague Erez Lieberman Aiden, Jean-Baptiste is a Founding Director of Harvard's Cultural Observatory, where their research team pioneers the use of quantitative methods for the study of human culture, language and history. His research was featured on the covers of Science and Nature, on the front pages of the New York Times and the Boston Globe, in The Economist, Wired and many other venues. The online tool he helped create -- ngrams.googlelabs.com -- was used millions of times to browse cultural trends. Jean-Baptiste is an Engineer from Ecole Polytechnique (Paris), and holds an MS in Applied Mathematics and a PhD in Systems Biology from Harvard.
“When the stuff of history is available in digital form, it makes it possible for mathematical analysis to very quickly and very conveniently read trends in our history and our culture.”
“In the next decade, the sciences and the humanities will come closer together to be able to answer deep questions about mankind.”
“I think there is the belief that … you cannot quantify the doings of mankind, that you cannot measure history.”