Iyad Rahwan

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Renowned Computer Scientist and Authority on the Impact of AI on Society, Government and the Future of Work; Leading Researcher on the Ethics of AI and Autonomous Vehicles; Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2020; Director, Max Planck Institute for Human Development; Former Professor, MIT

Biography

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be part of our everyday lives now, but important ethical questions regarding the development and use of AI technologies remain. Embedded biases and misinformation continue to shape our choices and the way we see the world, and we are increasingly surrendering our power and privacy to our devices. How can organizations leverage the best of what AI has to offer while ensuring current and future users are not negatively impacted?

Renowned AI developer Iyad Rahwan regularly addresses such critical questions as a researcher, speaker, author and advisor to organizations across the world. With expertise at the intersection of computer science, human behavior, collective intelligence and large-scale cooperation, Rahwan – who is often referred to as the anthropologist of artificial intelligence – helps organizations understand the ethical implications of the technologies they develop and use. He also teaches leaders in every sector how to prepare their workforces for a future in which machines and humans will be co-workers. Emphasizing that automation will not eliminate jobs as much as the need for certain skills, Rahwan shows organizations how AI can effectively address the workforce skills gap.

“People have recognized that machines impact our lives. And with AI, increasingly those machines have agency,” explains Rahwan, director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. “Understanding how these new AI agents behave and misbehave, and how their behavior impacts human psychology, social norms, economic behavior, and culture, is becoming the defining question of our time.”

Named to the Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2020, Rahwan says society is on the cusp of forging a new “social contract” with technology, one that will require us to closely examine how machines, such as autonomous vehicles, make decisions on our behalf. He also recommends a thoughtful approach to letting machines take over our lives in the name of efficiency and convenience.

As organizations move toward a new technological era and a post-pandemic return to work, Rahwan’s research and guidance will be of great value to leaders in every sector as they prepare for a different kind of workplace and economy.

“When people predict a job may disappear, they tend to ask if a machine can replace those skills,” says Rahwan. “But typically machines don’t replace a whole person, just part of their skills. In some cases, machines make a person more productive, which can lower prices and increase the demand for more people. Organizations will need to analyze many factors when it comes to matching machines with people and determining the best way to fill the skills gaps.”

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Iyad Rahwan is the director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where he founded and directs the Center for Humans & Machines. He is also an honorary professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Technical University of Berlin. Until June 2020, he was an Associate Professor of Media Arts & Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Rahwan’s work has appeared in major academic journals, including Science, Nature and PNAS, and features regularly in major media outlets, including the New York Times, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal. A native of Aleppo, Syria, he holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Iyad Rahwan is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Media

How AI’s Growing Influence Can Make Humans Less Moral

August 2, 2021

Job Connectivity Improves Resiliency in US Cities, Study Finds

April 13, 2021

Wall Street Journal

Self-Driving Cars Could Save Many Lives. But Mental Roadblocks Stand in the Way.

April 6, 2021

Could a Small City Become the Next Silicon Valley? It's Unlikely

September 3, 2020

We Can Make Surveillance Work for Us

June 26, 2020

Extreme Crowdsourcing: From Weather Balloons to AI Ethics (Video)

June 21, 2020

Ethics, Efficiency and Artificial Intelligence

January 30, 2020

The Anthropologist of Artificial Intelligence

August 26, 2019

AI and the Social Sciences Used to Talk More. Now They've Drifted Apart.

July 1, 2019

Artificial Intelligence Is Now Far Too Big To Be Limited To Computer Science

May 31, 2019

Techworld logo

MIT Professor Calls for Multi-Disciplinary "Machine Behavior" Research to Address AI Fears

May 7, 2019

It's Time to Study Machine Behaviour Across Disciplines, Finds MIT Paper

April 29, 2019

MIT Technology Review logo

AI Researchers Want to Study AI the Same Way Social Scientists Study Humans

April 29, 2019

The New Yorker logo

A Study on Driverless-Car Ethics Offers a Troubling Look Into Our Values

January 24, 2019

Beware Corporate 'Machinewashing' of AI

January 7, 2019

How Much Does Your Life Matter to a Self-Driving Car?

December 5, 2018

Why We Need to Audit Algorithms

November 28, 2018

Self-Driving Car Dilemmas Reveal That Moral Choices Are Not Universal

October 24, 2018

Stern Strategy Group

Making Sense of the Ethics and Impact of AI

September 26, 2018

MIT Scientists Unveil First Psychopath AI, 'Norman'

June 7, 2018

MIT Technology Review logo

A Regional Reality Check: Mapping Automation-Proof Jobs and Skills (Video)

June 4, 2018

The Economist logo

To Understand Digital Advertising, Study Its Algorithms

March 22, 2018

MIT Technology Review logo

AI and the Future of Work, Q&A (Video)

November 8, 2017

Whose Life Should Your Car Save?

November 3, 2016

The Atlantic logo

The Nightmare Machine

October 24, 2016

Should Your Driverless Car Hit a Pedestrian to Save Your Life?

June 23, 2016

A-Z Name

Rahwan, Iyad

Biography

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be part of our everyday lives now, but important ethical questions regarding the development and use of AI technologies remain. Embedded biases and misinformation continue to shape our choices and the way we see the world, and we are increasingly surrendering our power and privacy to our devices. How can organizations leverage the best of what AI has to offer while ensuring current and future users are not negatively impacted?

Renowned AI developer Iyad Rahwan regularly addresses such critical questions as a researcher, speaker, author and advisor to organizations across the world. With expertise at the intersection of computer science, human behavior, collective intelligence and large-scale cooperation, Rahwan – who is often referred to as the anthropologist of artificial intelligence – helps organizations understand the ethical implications of the technologies they develop and use. He also teaches leaders in every sector how to prepare their workforces for a future in which machines and humans will be co-workers. Emphasizing that automation will not eliminate jobs as much as the need for certain skills, Rahwan shows organizations how AI can effectively address the workforce skills gap.

“People have recognized that machines impact our lives. And with AI, increasingly those machines have agency,” explains Rahwan, director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. “Understanding how these new AI agents behave and misbehave, and how their behavior impacts human psychology, social norms, economic behavior, and culture, is becoming the defining question of our time.”

Named to the Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2020, Rahwan says society is on the cusp of forging a new “social contract” with technology, one that will require us to closely examine how machines, such as autonomous vehicles, make decisions on our behalf. He also recommends a thoughtful approach to letting machines take over our lives in the name of efficiency and convenience.

As organizations move toward a new technological era and a post-pandemic return to work, Rahwan’s research and guidance will be of great value to leaders in every sector as they prepare for a different kind of workplace and economy.

“When people predict a job may disappear, they tend to ask if a machine can replace those skills,” says Rahwan. “But typically machines don’t replace a whole person, just part of their skills. In some cases, machines make a person more productive, which can lower prices and increase the demand for more people. Organizations will need to analyze many factors when it comes to matching machines with people and determining the best way to fill the skills gaps.”

###

Iyad Rahwan is the director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where he founded and directs the Center for Humans & Machines. He is also an honorary professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Technical University of Berlin. Until June 2020, he was an Associate Professor of Media Arts & Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Rahwan’s work has appeared in major academic journals, including Science, Nature and PNAS, and features regularly in major media outlets, including the New York Times, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal. A native of Aleppo, Syria, he holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Iyad Rahwan is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

For a more in-depth understanding of these topics, book a confidential advisory meeting or interactive workshop with Iyad Rahwan

Strategically Planning for the Future of Work

How can companies best prepare for a future workplace where AI and automation will require a different set of human skills? Computer scientist Iyad Rahwan teaches organizations how to create strategic maps outlining occupations and skillsets that will – or will likely not – become automated. He also shares strategies for addressing these issues defensively so leaders can future-proof their organization and workforce.

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

Designing and deploying Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can be trusted is an extremely delicate process. Iyad Rahwan, an expert on the social impact of AI, discusses the ethical challenges of ensuring AI systems, such as autonomous vehicles (AVs), are safe and that their algorithms can be trusted. He explores how cultural differences and psychological biases, such as people’s inflated views of their own driving abilities, can make them reluctant to cede their power to AI, even when it is superior. In this riveting presentation, Rahwan explores the complex intersection of humans, AI and autonomous vehicles and what it means for AI developers, industry and society.

How Can We Make Surveillance Work for Us?

While new technologies allow for vast corporate and government surveillance, can the equation be leveraged in profoundly beneficial ways? AI expert Iyad Rahwan argues that in the face of inevitable and ongoing technological progress, appropriate degrees of privacy and regulation must be implemented regarding the use of data and algorithmic decision making. In this presentation, he discusses the use of surveillance to promote the public good, such as contact tracing during a pandemic, versus other more questionable, potentially unethical uses of surveillance that may infringe on personal privacy or convey dangerous biases.

Leveraging Social Media to Encourage Extreme Cooperation

The internet and social media have revolutionized our ability to cooperate at scale. Iyad Rahwan explores the physical and cognitive limits of crowds by following real-world experiments that utilized social media to mobilize the masses in tasks of unprecedented complexity. From finding people in remote cities, to reconstructing shredded documents, to canvassing an entire continent in search of balloons, the power of crowdsourcing is real. So are the exploitation, sabotage and hidden biases that undermine that power. To effectively leverage social media, we need to understand both the wisdom and madness of crowds. In this presentation, Rahwan shows how to harness collective efforts for constructive purposes – and combat malicious manipulation that can turn loose the fury of the mob.

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