I include below a brief personal history, some info on what I do when I'm not at work, as well as my mission statement.
I was born April 13, 1960 in Montreal, Canada. My parents came from Poland, and survived the Holocaust to live in Israel before moving to Canada. My Dad is a gifted engineer and designed automated machinery for assembling small tricky items like pens (which I think triggered my initial interest in complex adaptive systems). He has since retired and now splits his time between Montreal and Israel. My Mom died when I was twelve. I have a sister who is a lawyer and lives in Jerusalem with her husband and triplets born November 1996.
I got my Bachelor's degree at Dartmouth College between 1977 and 1981, where I majored in Biochemistry with a focus on neuroscience. It was there that I discovered computers, got interested in artificial intelligence (AI), and learned something of the intricate complexity of living systems. I also discovered I wasn't much good at lab work.
I found an opportunity, after graduating, to combine my interests by working at the Cognitive Psychophysiology Lab (CPL) at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. It was there that I learned something about how science really works; how to design, run and interpret experiments, how to write scientific papers, and how to develop large computer systems. One study I did on "perfect pitch" was published in Science journal. Believe it or not, I also learned rock climbing in central Illinois, under the influence of some professors in the Psychology Department.
In 1983 I entered graduate school, studying artificial intelligence in the Computer Science Department at the University of Illinois. For my Masters degree I implemented a system that reads simple stories and infers the emotional reactions of the characters, based on a model developed by my thesis advisor, Andrew Ortony.
Around that time I met Janiece Joy Sneegas. We got married in August of 1985, and have stuck together through thick and thin.
For my PhD I worked with my advisors Arthur Baskin and Stephen C-Y Lu to develop a computational model of conflict management in collaborative design. This work was fun because it involved a combination of empirical case studies (I studied some architects at work), theory building, and system development, and it started my current preference for multi-disciplinary coordination science research.
Seeking adventure, I got a position after graduating in 1989 as a visiting researcher at the Hitachi Advanced Research Lab near Tokyo Japan. The year I spent there with Jan opened my eyes to the range of differences in human cultures, and got me enthusiastic about travel.
Upon my return the the US in 1991, I got my first "real" job as an AI specialist in the collaborative computing program at The Boeing Company in Seattle WA. Seattle is a stunning place, and Boeing gave me a great opportunity to learn about how a large corporation coordinates its vast activities. I also was introduced to the world of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) by my colleague Stephen Poltrock.
On November 27, 1992 my daughter Hannah Marisha Klein was born, changing and enriching my life in many profound ways. After that, I worked hard to balance professional and personal life.
In 1995 I decided that I wanted to focus more on research than was possible in Boeing, so I took a job as a research scientist at the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Lab. It was really hard to leave Seattle, but State College turned out to be a serene and friendly place, and the job allowed me to learn the craft of writing grants, developing collaborations, and managing a research group. I really like the research scientist lifestyle; it allows me to focus on research without excessive administrative or teaching committments, and to balance my work with other pursuits.
In 1996 my son Samuel was still-born; the grief Jan, Hannah and I felt has helped us, I think, be more sensitive to the suffering of others and has motivated me to try to contribute something to the world outside my immediate family.
In 1997 MIT called, and after a lot of soul-searching I decided to come join the Center for Coordination Science founded by Tom Malone. MIT is a fantastic place, I think, because of the bright creative people who gather here, and I feel very grateful for this opportunity.
1998 was a pivotal year in my research career. I started up a new line of research, and received several grants to work on it. I have also begun collaborations with folks at the MIT AI Lab, the MIT Department of Civil Engineering, and others. More recently (2000) I was promoted to the rank of Principal Research Scientist. I feel like I have found a true 'home' here and am excited about the opportunities it gives me to contribute as a researcher.
Starting in 2006, my research has begun to focus predominantly on applying collective intelligence to sustainability issues. This is an important milestone to me because it means that my research work and personal values have come into alignment in a way that I have been seeking for years.
“Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts…they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun; but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric…”
Edna St Vincent Millay, From Huntsman, What Quarry? (1939)
My hope is that my work can help create a loom for weaving our disparate insights into well-grounded wisdom on how to address the truly pressing problems now facing us a species.
In May 2010, I spent a month as a visiting scholar at the University of Hong Kong, hosted by Professor Maggie Wang. I love living abroad, the sense of aliveness I get from being in a place where something puzzling or wonderful or just quirky is always potentially just around the corner. I think what I'm looking for most is visions of how people can live more happily and sustainably on this planet.
In July 2011, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and spent a week in the Amazon rain forest, at an eco-lodge about 100 km south of Manaus in Amazonas state. It was truly amazing, though it is difficult for me to be in a place of such ecological richness without also being conscious of how our species is rapidly destroying such places throughout our planet.
From August through October of 2011, I will be a visiting scholar at the Spanish AI Research Institute in Barcelona, hosted by the Spanish Government. Barcelona is a lovely cosmopolitan city, and it gives me a chance to pursue my ambition of seriously working on my Spanish.
The two most important people in my life are my wife Jan and my daughter Hannah. I like talking with Jan about life, and telling Hannah stories about exotic places and times.
I enjoy outdoor adventures, in particular hiking, SCUBA diving, and rock/mountain climbing. Some of my most memorable climbs include Joshua Tree in California, Devil's Tower in Wyoming, Mount Rainier in Washington State, and Mount Fuji in Japan. I plan some day to hang out in a tropical rain forest.
I like to travel and live abroad, the more exotic the better. Most of my trips have been to the Pacific Rim, including Australia, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Singapore and Japan (where I lived for a year), but I've also visited parts of Europe, Central America, Israel and Brazil. My most memorable trips include the San Blas islands off the coast of Panama, Heron Island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon) in Vietnam, and the Amazon rain forest. I speak French and Japanese. My current ambitions include learning Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, visiting India, Tibet, Africa as well as remote parts of Indonesia.
I have studied the martial arts intensively since 1982. I have a black belt in Karate as well as in Bong Suul (a Korean weapons style), and have an instructor's rating in Tai Chi Chuan through Yang's Martial Arts Association. I have been impressed by the insights that this training has offered concerning fundamental principles of mental and physical effectiveness.
I have been exploring the practice of some spiritual disciplines, particularly the Buddhist path, which I see as a comprehensive and pragmatic cirriculum that seems very compatible with my personal experiences as well as my understanding of the emerging sciences of consciousness.
I hope to re-kindle my previous involvement in classical guitar and shodo (Japanese calligraphy), as well as increase my involvement in service activities, particularly concerning children and the environment.
My life mission to become as fully joyous, loving and effective as I can be, and express this in all the roles I play:
Sharpen Sword Continuously develop and integrate my physical, mental and spiritual resources. Keep myself healthy and capable so I feel physically good and I am not hampered from doing anything I want to do. Continuously sharpen and broaden my mind. Develop my ability to fully experience, love and accept every part of myself, other people, and the universe, just as it is.
Family Man Foster a loving family, helping each other grow towards our full potential. Provide for the basic needs of my family, a few luxuries, plus enough financial security so we can weather out storms, make changes and take chances. Support and be close to my father and sister as well as Jan's family. Have time/energy for fun meaningful shared family activities. Expose Jan and Hannah to the best the world has to offer in culture & nature.
Social Being Develop intimate meaningful connections with a wide range of interesting estimable people. Develop and participate fully in a vital community.
World Citizen Contribute to greater harmony, justice and growth in human society. Leave the natural environment as a whole better off than when I entered it, and work towards achieving a sustainable and vital natural environment.
Research Scientist Make a contribution to research, as a mentor, and as an educator/consultant, aligning my work with my social/environmental values. Do fun, creative, collaborative work. Create opportunities to meet interesting people, travel etc. Always keep an appropriate balance between work and non-work.
Gourmand of Life Experience first-hand that which is wonderful, including love and friendship, human cultures and natural wonders. Experience adventures of every type, including discovery about myself, others and the universe at large.