The data-driven future of storytelling: MIT’s Deb Roy on the message and the medium

The head of MIT’s Center for Constructive Communication talks about how data can help storytellers, what audiences of the future might look like, and why artificial intelligence cannot replace human creativity.

Deb Roy has spent much of his career studying the way humans use technology to communicate. As the director of the MIT Center for Constructive Communication, Roy leads an initiative to design human-machine systems that improve communication across divides and increase opportunity for underheard communities. The Center grew out of Roy’s earlier work at the MIT Media Lab, where he served as director from 2019-2021 and established the Laboratory for Social Machines in 2014. From 2013 to 2017, Roy served as Twitter’s chief media scientist.

Roy spoke with McKinsey senior partner Jonathan Dunn, who co-leads the firm’s Consumer Tech and Media practice, about how audiences and storytelling are evolving, and what the future of media and entertainment might look like as a result. The interview, condensed and edited, appears below.

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