September 18, 2019
Nov 14 2018

Automation, Research Technology and Researchers’ Trajectories: Evidence from Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

12:00 pm — HBS Cotting House Conference Room

Digital Seminar Series: Jeffrey Furman, Department of Strategy & Policy at Boston University. This event is open to faculty, doctoral students, and academic researchers.

Automation, Research Technology and Researchers’ Trajectories: Evidence from Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Abstract: We examine how an increase in the availability of IT-based research technology influences the production of research ideas and the mobility of research in the ideas space. To do this, we leverage the unanticipated and substantial expansion in access to motion-sensing research technology that occurred as the consequence of the introduction and subsequent hacking of the Microsoft Kinect system. To estimate whether this technology induces mobility in ideas production, we employ novel measures based on machine learning (topic modeling) techniques as well as traditional measures based on bibliometric indicators. Our analysis demonstrates that the Kinect shock increased the production of ideas and induced researchers to pursue ideas more distant to their original trajectories. We find that this holds for both incumbents and entrants in motion-sensing research, with stronger effects among entrants. Importantly, the boost in entrants’ ideas mobility extends to projects outside of motion sensing, suggesting that the automation of research tasks can act as a conduit towards unexplored knowledge trajectories. Co-authored with Florenta Teodoridis, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California (USC). Paper abstract available here.

A buffet lunch will be available at 11:45 a.m. The talk will begin at 12:00 p.m.

Featuring

  • headshot of jeff furman

    Jeff is a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and Associate Professor of Strategy & Innovation at Boston University.

  • Florenta Teodoridis

    Florenta is an Assistant Professor of Strategy at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. Her main areas of interest are the economics of innovation, scientific productivity, and entrepreneurship.

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