Harnessing AI and blockchain to build a better financial system
Mark Weber (@markrweber) is a research scientist at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, a $240 million academic-industry partnership for the responsible advancement of artificial intelligence. Trained in finance, economics, and integrated thinking, Mark’s expertise is connecting dots across disciplines to bridge academic research with real-world applications.
Scalable deep learning for anti-money laundering (AML)
Mark’s current MIT-IBM research involves an emerging sub-field of AI - graph convolutional networks - and builds on the breakthrough work of Jie Chen (IBM Research) with FastGCN. Teaming up with Charles Leiserson’s high performance computing group at MIT CSAIL, Mark and company aspire to create new AI tools for anti-money-laundering (AML) to fight financial crime, such as the $40 billion human trafficking industry.
b_verify: a blockchain protocol for supply chain finance
While doing his graduate work in finance at MIT Sloan, Mark worked as a researcher at the the MIT Media Lab with the Digital Currency Initiative. There he led the development of b_verify, an open-source protocol for supply chain finance utilizing public blockchains and Internet-of-Things (IoT). The project grew out of an engagement with the Mexican government and the Inter-American Development Bank, receiving funding from the latter as well as from the MIT Legatum Center for Entrepreneurship and Development.
Focused on warehouse receipts in agricultural supply chains as an informing use-case, the b_verify protocol presents innovations in both computer science — scalable non-equivocation using public blockchains — and management science — predicted improvements in credit access via inventory transaction signaling and asset-backed lending (among other benefits). View the b_verify code on Github. Contact Mark if you are interested in utilizing the protocol.
Development economics and Poverty, Inc.
Prior to MIT, produced documentary films on political economy and development, most notably a film called Poverty, Inc., winner of over 50 international film festival honors and the $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award. The film secured broadcast deals in 12 countries and praise across the political spectrum, from hyper-liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to free-market Stanford economist Russ Roberts. The film presents a strong critique of the neocolonialist overtones of the Western “aid industrial complex” and its tendency to undermine local markets and political leadership.
Connected to this film was Mark's leadership as a founding team member of PovertyCure, an educational media initiative and network of over 350 partner organizations and 1.3 million Facebook fans spanning 144 countries. The PovertyCure DVD Series has played in over 400 universities, has been translated into a dozen languages, and continues to be used in educational curricula around the world.
Mark's first venture, a film titled Strong Bodies Fight, earned 20 film festival honors and coverage on NBC, ESPN, and FOX. The film captures the 80+ year relationship between Bangladesh and the University of Notre Dame Boxing Team, for which Mark served as captain and president. During his tenure at Notre Dame, he founded an International Summer Service Learning Program in Bangladesh.