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James Barrat

Filmmaker & Author
Time Magazine named author, speaker, and filmmaker James Barrat one of 5 Very Smart People Who Think Artificial Intelligence Could Bring the Apocalypse due to his groundbreaking nonfiction book, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era. Intelligence, Barrat contends, not strength or speed, is the superpower that enables humans to steer the future. Scientists around the world are developing machines whose intelligence grows exponentially, and will someday dwarf our own. Have we already plunged into an unwinnable intelligence race with the future of humanity at stake?

As an award-winning documentary filmmaker, Barrat has made a career from introducing audiences to complex ideas in engaging and provocative ways. His films have set ratings records for National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, and other broadcasters in the US and Europe. As a speaker, Barrat shines a light on AI’s soaring potential in science, medicine, ‘smart’ industrial design, and more. He explores why investment in artificial intelligence has doubled each year since 2009, and why by 2025 AI and automation will make up the largest sectors of the economy. But Barrat also probes the dark side of machine intelligence, one you’ll never hear about from Google, Apple, Facebook, or Amazon. In the short term that means autonomous battlefield robots and drones – machines that make the ‘kill decision’ without a human in the loop – and techno-unemployment that will devastate blue collar workers and destabilize the middle class. In the long term, Barrat argues, mankind will struggle to control thinking machines which may be a thousand or a million times more intelligent than we are.

Why have Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking raised the alarm about the dangers of artificial intelligence? It began with Our Final Invention (an Amazon #1 Bestseller and 2013 Huffington Post Definitive Tech Book) and Barrat’s quest to engage the world in the most important conversation of our time.

My Speakers Sessions

Thursday, September 27