NATHAN EAGLE – MIT, JANA
Nathan Eagle is an American technology executive. He is co-founder and CEO of Jana (formerly txteagle), a mobile phone developer. He is also an adjunct assistant professor at Harvard University, and holds faculty positions at MIT and Northeastern University.
He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, a master’s degree in Management Science and Engineering, and a master’s in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University School of Engineering. He earned his PhD at MIT in 2005, with his thesis project at the MIT Media Laboratory on reality engineering.
In his doctoral research at MIT, he gave 100 volunteers at MIT community smartphones that logged their activity over the 2004-05 academic year, giving a dataset of more than 350,000 hours of communication, proximity, location and activity information. According to Wired Magazine, “Eagle’s algorithms were able to predict what people — especially professors and Media Lab employees — would do next and be right up to 85 percent of the time.” This work illustrated how mobile phones can be used to collect accurate, large-scale data about real social interactions. The data has been downloaded by thousands of researchers and has been analyzed in hundreds of academic publications. The project was named one of the “10 Technologies Most Likely To Change The Way We Live” by the MIT Technology Review.
As a research scientist at MIT and Fulbright Scholar in 2006, Eagle developed a mobile phone programming curriculum that has been adopted by twelve Sub-Saharan computer science departments, leading to hundreds of mobile applications.
As a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute in 2010, he and Eric Horvitz launched an initiative called Artificial Intelligence for Development. This initiative led to a diverse set of projects ranging from computational models of food shortages to studies on the dynamics of slums.
As an adjunct assistant professor at Harvard University in 2011, he formed the Engineering Social Systems group, with researchers in fields ranging from epidemiology and public health to statistical physics and urban planning, dedicated to the analysis of large scale data for social purposes.
Based on his experiences in Africa, he co-founded Jana with Ben Olding in 2009. The company provides a service to compensate mobile phone subscribers with airtime in exchange for providing information to international businesses and organizations. As of 2011, the firm operates in 49 countries with 220 mobile phone operator partners, and a database of 2.1 billion consumers. In 2008, Nokia named Eagle one of the world’s top mobile phone developers.
In 2009, Eagle was inducted into the TR35, a group of top technology innovators under the age of 35. His academic work has appeared in Science, Nature and PNAS, and his perspectives featured in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and on CNN.