Speaker Profiles

Ajay Agrawal

Ajay Agrawal


Creative Destruction Lab & NextAI

“Humans make noisy predictions” says world-leading Artificial Intelligence researcher and economist AJAY AGRAWAL. Author of the game-changing book Prediction Machines and founder of U of T’s Creative Destruction Lab—which boasts the greatest concentration of AI start-ups of any program on the planet—Agrawal’s talks illuminate the incoming realities of AI: how machine prediction, stripped of all that noisy (and expensive) human thought, is on the verge of presenting us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the way we do business, “drive” cars, run governments, and provide healthcare.

Named the engineer of a “Billion Dollar Breakout” by The Globe and Mail—Dr. Agrawal comes at AI’s potential from the perspective of economics. Advances in AI and machine learning mean profound opportunities for innovation and investment. As founder of U of T’s Creative Destruction Lab (the “Silicon Valley of the North”), Agrawal unpacks the full potential of AI and machine prediction, without spin or jargon. Report on Business Magazine has also named Agrawal to its “Power 50” list of the most influential Canadians to watch, calling him “a key contributor to Toronto’s emergence as a world-class technology ecosystem.” His first book, Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence is a must-read, sweeping guide—and practical toolkit—for anyone seeking to leverage the disruptive, transformative power of AI in the coming decades. It’s already been cited several times in The Economist and is on Bloomberg and Politico’s best summer reads lists, among others.

Professor Agrawal and his co-authors also describe the “Simple Economics of Machine Intelligence” in the Harvard Business Review online, and were co-organizers of the research session on the Economics of Artificial Intelligence at the American Economics Association annual conference in Chicago. Agrawal is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA.

As co-founder of NextAI, a not-for-profit, 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 was 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 honours. 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.