Cesar Hidalgo

César A. Hidalgo is the head of the Macro Connections group at the MIT Media Lab and the ABC Career Development Professor at MIT. An anti-disciplinary academic by choice, and a poet at heart, Cesar's efforts focus on improving our understanding of the world's complexity. His tools include the construction of visualization engines that make available unwieldy volumes of data, the development of data collection methods and metrics that make visible hitherto neglected aspects of our reality, and the development of theories and narratives that can help put together the pieces that reductionist approaches have pulled apart.

Keynote: Understanding the Development of Economic & Cultural Production

The evolution of economies and culture hinge on the accumulation of physically embodied information. Products such as cars, refrigerators and toothpaste, as well as works of art, such as painting and books, and scientific discoveries, all are preserved in the world as physically embodied information. In this presentation I explore the development of economies and culture, and its relation to the ability of our species to physically embody information, by looking at 6000 years of cultural production data and 50 years of international trade data. I will show that cultural production is tightly connected to the broadcasting technologies available to our species--validating the theories of Marshall McLuhan and Elizabeth Eisenstein--and to the network of global languages. I will also show that economic development is highly path dependent and deeply constrained by our ability to embody information into objects and knowledge in networks of people.