Mark Klein, PhD
Principal Research Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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 in 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 to 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
commitments, 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
Starting around 2006, I found myself increasingly restless about the fact that my research work was not directly addressing the sustainability challenges that I care so much about as an individual. Our sustainability challenges seem to represent failures of collective intelligence i.e. we are making decisions, collectively, that result in outcomes (environmental degradation, as well as social and economic distress) that almost none of us individually want. And, while it seemed that internet-based collaboration could help us make better decisions around such complex and contentious topics, we had not yet found a way to do that. My two major research projects since that time (the Deliberatorium and Complex Negotiation projects) have focused on that key challenge.
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 was a visiting scholar at the Spanish AI Research Institute in Barcelona Spain,
hosted by the Spanish Government. Barcelona is a lovely cosmopolitan city, an amazing place to visit. And it gave me a chance to pursue my ambition of
seriously working on my Spanish.
I spent Feb and March of 2013 as a visiting researcher in the Information Science Department
at the University of Otago, New Zealand, hosted by Michael Winikoff.
New Zealand is a truly wondrous place in terms of its natural beauty.
I spent May 2013 as a visiting researcher in the Nagoya Institute of Technology
in Nagoya, Japan, hosted by Takayuki Ito, a long-time collaborator of mine.
As of September 2013, I've taken a leave of absence from MIT to participate in the two year CATALYST
European Union project aimed at creating better ways to harvest the wisdom of the crowds for socially impactful
applications. My host is Prof. Avi Bernstein
at the University of Zurich, and I'll be working with an international team that includes
Imagination for People as well as
Prof. Simon Buckingham Shum
at the Open University. I'm looking forward to meeting new people, seeing new places, and doing
interesting and potentially impactful work. My hope is that I will be able to secure new US
funding, and return to MIT, after the EU project concludes.
In September 2014, I spent a very interesting and productive month as a visitor at ADDLabs,
which is a part of Fluminense Federal University (UFF) in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. I gave six lectures for a UFF class on Collective Intelligence, and collaborated
intensively on some research projects with ADDLabs director Prof. Ana Cristina
Bicharra Garcia, who was my host for the visit. Brazil is a place of contrasts: great natural beauty and a warm vibrant culture, as well as all the heartbreaking
problems associated with developing, resource-extraction-based, economies.
I did a lot of traveling in Fall 2015, including a 1 month stay as a visiting international professor at the
Nagoya Institute of Technology (where I taught a course on collective intelligence), plus a month as visiting research fellow at the
University of Alcala in Alcala Spain, working on protocols for enabling complex negotiation.
I spent August of 2016 as a visiting research fellow at the Social Media Lab at Ryerson University in Toronto, working on
deliberation-centric social media analysis. It was a nice trip: my hosts were great, Toronto is a vibrant cosmopolitain city, and I got to train almost every day at the renowned
Systema schools there.
In 2017, I started an extended collaboration with an NEC-funded research group at AIST, a national research lab in Tokyo. Our group has been developing software to enable faster and better outcomes for large and complex negotiations. I've done two three-month stints in Tokyo so far and have really enjoyed the collaboration as well as the city itself.
What I Do When I'm Not At Work
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 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, New Zealand, and the Amazon rain forest.
I speak French and Japanese and Spanish (some rusty). My current ambitions include learning
Mandarin Chinese, visiting India, Tibet, and 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. In the last two years, I have become entranced with
Systema, a remarkable
Russian martial art that uses soft style principles in a deep and very pragmatic way. 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 curriculum 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 Mission Statement
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.
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 &
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.