Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences
My life before BGU:
I grew up in Lahavim and studied at Eshel Hanasi high school. I did a double undergraduate degree in physics and computer science at Tel Aviv University. I studied for my master's degree in computer science at Rutgers University in New Jersey in the US, and my doctorate at Cornell University in New York. I then did a postdoc at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, both in Boston.
"I research how platforms such as Facebook or Google, and the algorithms underlying them, can better serve people both as individuals and as a society"
I research how platforms such as Facebook or Google, and the algorithms underlying them, can better serve people both as individuals and as a society. For example, I recently studied how much fake news really got to American voters via social media during the presidential elections in 2016. We found that beyond the large discrepancies in the demand for and sharing of fake news on Twitter between the right and the left, there is an unusual centralization by every measure in the demand for and sharing of fake news amongst voters. For example, only 0.1% of the voters were responsible for sharing around 80% of the content that we identified from sources of fake news on Twitter – which is a crazy concentration in itself and also in comparison to the dissemination every other kind of content, from cute cat videos through to other similar political issues.
You could say that five main things brought me here: 1. The wonderful people I met in the Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering; 2. The excellent overlap in the fields of interest with a large number of researchers in the Department and beyond; 3. Intellectual openness and understanding the importance of interdisciplinary research using new tools; 4. A university with impressive prospects of growth and development and a pragmatic approach to working with industry; 5. The train.
An insight from my research:
People are people are people, and they will use the technological tools available to them, both the more sophisticated or less so, in any way possible in order to serve their needs and to advance their goals. Academia has an important role in helping companies like Facebook or Google to design systems that are good for everyone and not just the bottom line of a given company.
Something that doesn't appear on my resume:
Until the age of 14, I dreamed of making it to the NBA, since then I have accepted my physical attributes.
A source of inspiration:
I'll be in trouble if I don't say my wife. Without her I probably wouldn't have considered an academic career and wouldn't have managed to accomplish half the things I have over the last 10 years.
When I grow up:
In the past I would say a player in the NBA. Today I mainly aspire to be on schedule and to sleep a lot when I am older.
If I was not a researcher, I would:
be a researcher in industry.
» Facebook or Twitter? Neither. I'm usually a very private person.
» Game of Thrones or the Simpsons? The Simpsons. The Game of Thrones was too weird for me.
» Yoga or CrossFit? It doesn't matter. The important thing is to take part in a sport.
» Hapo'el or Maccabi? Historically Maccabi are better.
» Chess or backgammon? Chess – it's less random.
» Steak or tofu? If only I could reply tofu.
» Trekking or the spa? Presently trekking, but the spa when I can no longer trek.
» Car or train? Of course it's the train.
» X-Box or PlayStation? I haven't had the chance over the last decade.
» Fortis or Sakharov? Just not "Hadag Hanachash" again on StudentFest.
» Classic Europe or India? Non-classic Europe.
» Ocean or the pool? It depends on my mood.
» Galgalaz or Podcast? A playlist on Spotify. Galgalatz have had the same playlist for over a decade
» Morning or night? Only night.
» Winter or summer? I'll take July or August in Beer-Sheva over any of the winter months in Boston without hesitating.
» Cat or dog? A dog with a yard.
» Movie or play? Whatever stimulates thinking more, the medium doesn't matter.