Alibaba Group announced the establishment of Luohan Academy, an open research platform with Nobel Laureates and leading social scientists on June 27. The goal of the new academy is to address universal challenges faced by societies arising from the rapid development of digital technologies.
Luohan, the Chinese term for the Buddhist concept of Arhat refers to someone who has attained nirvana. In Chinese Buddhist teachings, the 18 Luohans are a group of monks who have reached a stage of higher consciousness and thus represent wisdom, courage and power.
The Luohan Academy comes more than half a year after the establishment of Alibaba’s DAMO Academy, a global research program founded last October. DAMO Academy, whose name is a homonym to the buddhist term “Dharma” in Chinese, focuses on developing cutting-edge technologies. The Luohan Academy however, will focus on examining any implications that these technologies may bring to our societies in the future.
“The advancements of technology are coming at us at dazzling speeds and has altered almost every aspect of the human society. So when we look at the benefits from technology, it is equally important to understand the challenges faced and how we can work together to address them,” says Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group.
“We feel the obligation to use our technology, our resources, our people and everything we have to help societies embrace the technological transformation and its implications. This is why we initiated an open and collaborative research platform, the Luohan Academy, and invited top international thinkers to join this collaboration,” adds Ma.
The Luohan Academy aims to prepare societies for the unprecedented structural transformations brought about by advanced technologies such as big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics. It will study the coming digital revolution to benefit societies and individuals both domestically and internationally. The academy will also recruit additional social scientists to gradually cover more research areas and look for for additional opportunities to collaborate with top research institutions worldwide.
Below is an incomplete list of Luohan Academy’s current academic committee members which include Nobel Laureates and prominent scholars from all around the world:
• Patrick Bolton, Barbara and David Zalaznick Professor of Business, Columbia Business School • Markus Brunnermeier, Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Economics, Princeton University
• Bengt Holmstrom, 2016 Nobel Laureate, Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics, MIT
• Lars Peter Hansen, 2013 Nobel Laureate, David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, Statistics, Booth School of Business & The College, University of Chicago
• Preston McAfee, Most Recently Served as Chief Economist and Corp VP at Microsoft • Christopher Pissarides, 2010 Nobel Laureate, Regius Professor of Economics, LSE
• Yingyi Qian, Distinguished Professor and Dean of School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University
• Alvin Roth, 2012 Nobel Laureate, The Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics, Stanford University
• Thomas Sargent, 2011 Nobel Laureate, W.R. Berkley Professor of Economics and Business, New York University
• Michael Spence, 2001 Nobel Laureate, William R. Berkley Professor in Economics & Business, NYU Stern
• Steve Tadelis, Professor of Economics, Business and Public Policy, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
• Neng Wang, Chong Khoon Lin Professor of Real Estate & Professor of Finance, Columbia Business School
• Shangjin Wei, Professor of Finance and Economics, Professor of International Affairs, and N.T. Wang Professor of Chinese Business and Economy, Columbia University
• Wei Xiong, Trumbull-Adams Professor of Finance, Princeton University
• Chenggang Xu, Quoin Professor in Economic Development, University of Hong Kong, Professor of Economics, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business