The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence
Prediction is about making decisions under uncertainty. But when we design artificial intelligence to make predictions on our behalf, is it able to rise to the challenge of dealing with risk and the unexpected? That’s on the brink of greatness, says economist Ajay Agrawal. Co-author of the definitive book on AI, Prediction Machines, as well as the upcoming Power and Prediction, Ajay is founder of the Creative Destruction Lab, which boasts the greatest concentration of AI start-ups of any program on the planet. His talks illuminate the realities of AI: how machine prediction presents us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to optimize the way we do business, run governments, and provide healthcare, leaving us the space to be human where it really counts—decision-making.
“Ajay Agrawal reveals where artificial intelligence is taking us by separating hype from reality, while delivering a steady stream of fresh insights. He speaks in a language that top executives and policy makers will understand.”— Dominic Barton, Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company
We’ve heard dramatic statements about the arrival of artificial intelligence for decades, yet little seems to have changed. Other than a few well-known applications—personalized news feeds, customer service chatbots, e-commerce recommendations—the world today may seem mostly unaffected by AI. Yet world-renowned AI expert Ajay Agrawal sees the power of this technology’s potential all around us in ways that aren’t always obvious. Named the engineer of a “Billion Dollar Breakout” by The Globe and Mail, Agrawal comes at AI’s potential as both an economist and a business visionary. Ajay’s keynotes show us that business leaders and entrepreneurs are in a position to enhance the way we all work by tapping into AI opportunities right now, not tomorrow. And if we want to see AI get to an even higher level of exposure, we’ll just need a few additional investments to make it grow even bigger. In many cases, those investments are well underway. Change is coming.
As founder of the University of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab (the “Silicon Valley of the North”), Agrawal’s talks unpack the full potential of AI and machine prediction. His first book, Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence is a must-read survey—and practical toolkit—for anyone seeking to leverage the disruptive, transformative power of AI in the coming decades. His upcoming book, Power and Prediction, is a must-read guide for any business leader or policy maker on how to make the coming AI disruptions work for you rather than against you. As AI prediction machines improve, old ways of doing things will be upended, and this process will have winners and losers. How can businesses leverage, or protect, their positions?
As co-founder of the not-for-profit NextAI, Agrawal helps young entrepreneurs and technologists explore new commercial opportunities that are a direct result of advances in AI. He is also a co-founder of “Machine Learning and the Market for Intelligence,” an annual conference on the business of artificial intelligence. In addition, he is a co-founder of Kindred, a company that seeks to build machines with human-like intelligence.
Agrawal has been awarded Professor of the Year by MBA classes at the Rotman School seven times, the Martin-Lang Award for Excellence in Teaching, and most recently the Distinguished Scholarly Contribution Award, among several other honors. He conducts research on the economics of artificial intelligence, science policy, entrepreneurial finance, and the geography of innovation. He serves on the editorial boards of multiple management and economics journals and holds a Ph.D. in Strategy and Economics and an M.Eng./MBA from the University of British Columbia. He served as a Visiting Scholar at MIT, London Business School, and Harvard University, as well as a Visiting Professor at Stanford.
“Prediction Machines is a must-read for business leaders, policymakers, economists, strategists, and anyone who wants to understand implications of AI on designing business strategies, decisions, and how AI will impact our society. Read this book and learn from the best!”Ruslan Salakhutdinov, Carnegie Mellon Professor and Director of AI Research at Apple
“Prediction Machines achieves a feat as welcome as it is unique: a crisp, readable survey of where artificial intelligence is taking us separates hype from reality, while delivering a steady stream of fresh insights. The key is that the authors view AI’s life-changing developments through the lens of economics vs technology—and thus speak in a language top executives and policymakers will understand. Every leader needs to read this book.”Dominic Barton, Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company
“This book makes artificial intelligence easier to understand by recasting it as a new cheap commodity—predictions. It’s a brilliant move. I found the book incredibly useful.”Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of WIRED and Author of What Technology Wants and The Inevitable
“Prediction Machines is a pathbreaking book that focuses on what strategists and managers really need to know about the AI revolution. Taking a grounded, realistic perspective on the technology, the book uses principles of economics and strategy to understand how firms, industries, and management will be transformed by AI.”Susan Athey, Stanford Professor and former Chief Economist at Microsoft
“The current AI revolution will likely result in abundance, but the process of getting there requires deliberation on tough topics that include increasing unemployment and income disparity. This book presents frameworks that allow decision makers to deeply understand the forces at play.”Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures and Founding CEO of Sun Microsystems
“This is the first book to explain the economics of artificial intelligence. It’s a must-read for every business person interested in this technology. I encounter so many people who feel excited but overwhelmed by AI. This book will ground those feeling lost by giving them a practical framework.”Shivon Zilis, OpenAI Director and Partner at Bloomberg Beta
“What does AI mean for my business? Read this book to find out”Hal Varian, Chief Economist, Google
“AI’s the most transformative technology of our era. Agrawal, Gans, and Goldfarb not only understand its essence, but also deliver deep insights into its economic implications and intrinsic trade-offs. If you want to clear the fog of AI hype and see clearly the core of AI’s challenges and opportunities for society, your first step should be to read this book.”Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT Professor and Author of The Second Machine Age and Machine Platform Crowd
Artificial intelligence has been with us for decades. But today’s machines are gaining the ability to learn from data and make sophisticated predictions—more cheaply, and more accurately, than human beings. Like the advent of the Internet and the dot-com explosion, machine learning is set to affect foundational changes to our lives (think driverless cars—but that’s just the beginning). From navigation to the Internet of Things, manufacturing to agriculture, health care to the robotic workers set to replace even top-level positions, deep learning will open as many doors as it will close. And to understand these shifts, experts turn to Ajay Agrawal. A leading authority in AI, the co-author of Prediction Machines—and, as a business speaker, a great explainer of complex economic forces—he translates the sweeping power of machines and breaks down why it all matters. How can we take advantage of the growing market for AI? How can we allocate capital and investments today to best prepare for tomorrow? How do we prepare for the disruptions—to long-standing industries, to millions of jobs, and to age-old notions about work, employment, and leisure—that will result? No matter who you are or where you work—a company, an investor, a university or government—Agrawal will help you adapt, and thrive, throughout this economy-wide transformation.
To Rotman professor, Creative Destruction Lab founder, and machine learning speaker Ajay Agrawal, many western nations have a problem with productivity. We’re educated—and we’ve got plenty of innovative ideas—but problems with scale and commercialization leave us underperforming. However, countries now have a new opportunity to compete globally—if we decide to take a lead in the realm of artificial intelligence and machine learning. In this keynote, Agrawal outlines the ways businesses, funding agencies, universities, and other institutions can pioneer research into A.I. and become global leaders. In other words, when inventors, scientists, programmers, and entrepreneurs are working at the very frontiers of deep and reinforcement learning, there are nearly limitless applications for business. If you invest now, and secure your global presence, you can transform your productivity and win on a world stage. Drawing on his work with the Creative Destruction Lab and the NextAI, Agrawal outlines how investors and business leaders can seize these new opportunities, capitalize on foresight, and reap the benefits of an early engagement with the next great shift in economics.