Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist known for his frontier research on the digital economy, will join Stanford in July.
Brynjolfsson comes to Stanford as a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) and as the Ralph Landau Senior Fellow in Economic Growth at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR). He will also serve as a professor, by courtesy, of economics, and a professor, by courtesy, of operations, information and technology, at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
With his new roles at Stanford, Brynjolfsson will continue his scholarship and leadership in deepening the understanding of technological advances along with their societal and economic effects. Leading the launch of a new research hub, the Digital Economy Lab, will be an integral part of that.
He will also continue teaching when he joins Stanford.
“The opportunity to lead the new Digital Economy Lab is a huge part of what attracted me to Stanford,” Brynjolfsson said. “Digital technologies, especially AI, are profoundly transforming our society and economy. My passion is to understand that transformation. It's not only an intellectual challenge but also important so we can steer the changes in ways that help create shared prosperity and widespread benefits.
“Stanford, and Silicon Valley, are the epicenter of that technological revolution and being here will be an immense help to my research agenda,” he said.
Brynjolfsson is no stranger to Stanford. He has taught classes as a visiting professor at the business school and has been a frequent featured guest speaker. His recent appearances included headlining an event co-hosted by SIEPR and HAI on “The AI Awakening and the Coming Productivity Boom,” and speaking at HAI’s fall conference on “AI Ethics, Policy and Governance.”
He’s also co-authored papers with several Stanford economists, including SIEPR affiliates Paul Milgrom, Timothy Bresnahan, Brad Larsen, and Nicholas Bloom.
“Over the years, I found myself flying out to Silicon Valley more and more often to meet with many of the people who are helping to reshape the world,” Brynjolfsson said. “Being at Stanford will make it easier for me to do the kind of in-depth research that needs to be done.”
Fei-Fei Li, who co-directs HAI with John Etchemendy, said Brynjolfsson’s contributions will “deepen our understanding of how technology impacts humans, society, and the economy.”
“John and I are very pleased to welcome Erik to the Stanford faculty,” Li said. “Erik’s groundbreaking work on the digital economy and the future of work make him uniquely valuable to the work of both HAI and SIEPR.”
Mark Duggan, the Trione Director of SIEPR, said Brynjolfsson’s work will be instrumental in addressing burgeoning policy questions.
“Erik’s expertise and enthusiasm to research and develop insights into the pressing challenges of our digital economy has informed and inspired many people over the years,” Duggan said. “His research is influential, and we are all thrilled to have him at SIEPR and HAI where he will strengthen the university’s interdisciplinary initiatives to tackle important policy questions and real-world issues.”
Brynjolfsson is currently the director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and the Schussel Family Professor at the MIT Sloan School. His research examines the effects of information technologies on business strategy, productivity and performance, digital commerce, and intangible assets.
“MIT has been very good to me and I'll always be grateful for the friends I've made there and for the strong support the Institute provided for my research and teaching,” Brynjolfsson said.
Brynjolfsson was among the first researchers to measure the productivity contributions of IT and the complementary role of organizational capital and other intangibles. His research also provided the first quantification of the value of online product variety — often known as the "long tail"— and developed pricing models for information goods.
Brynjolfsson is one of the most widely-cited researchers in information system and economics. His body of work, spanning three decades, has been recognized with several “best paper” awards and five patents.
He is a much sought-after speaker around the globe, ranging from business forums and academic conferences to government presentations and TED talks. And he has authored nine books, including, with co-author Andrew McAfee, The New York Times best-seller “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies,” “Race Against the Machine,” and “Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future.”
At MIT, where he received a PhD in managerial economics, Brynjolfsson has taught popular courses on the Economics of Information and the Analytics Lab. Brynjolfsson has also taught at Harvard, where he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in applied mathematics and decision sciences. He has supervised more than 60 graduate students through their thesis work.
Brynjolfsson is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and co-founded the Inclusive Innovation Challenge which recognizes individuals and organizations for using technology to benefit everyone. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous academic journals.