Ajay Agrawal

What can we expect from Artificial Intelligence and how can we harness its power?

Expert in Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning | Founder of the Creative Destruction Lab

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Ajay Agrawal | Expert in Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning | Founder of the Creative Destruction Lab
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To world-leading researcher Ajay AgrawaL—named the engineer of a “Billion Dollar Breakout” by The Globe and Mail—advances in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning mean profound opportunities for innovation and investment. As founder of U of T’s Creative Destruction Lab, Agrawal unpacks the full potential of A.I., without spin or jargon, for governments and companies alike.

Agrawal is the Peter Munk Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, and founder of U of T’s Creative Destruction Lab, which is home to the greatest concentration of A.I.-enabled companies in any program on Earth. Featured on the cover of The Globe and Mail’s “Report on Business,” the CDL is “paving the way for a more vibrant Canadian economy.” 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, will arrive in May 2018 from Harvard Press.


Professor Agrawal and his coauthors 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. He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA. 


Professor Agrawal is a co-founder of NextAI, a not-for-profit, where he helps young entrepreneurs and technologists explore new commercial opportunities that are a direct result of advances in A.I. 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 in 2017, 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. He holds a Ph.D. in Strategy and Economics and an M.Eng./MBA from the University of British Columbia and served as a Visiting Scholar at MIT, London Business School, and Harvard University, as well as a Visiting Professor at Stanford. 

Speech Topics

Our Automated Future Learning to Adapt—and Thrive—in the Era of Intelligent Machines

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 A.I.—and 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 A.I.? 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.

Canadian Economy
Canada’s A.I. Edge Becoming a Global Leader in Machine Learning

To Rotman professor and Creative Destruction Lab founder Ajay Agrawal, Canada has 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, we have a new opportunity to compete globally—and that’s due to our leading edge in the realm of artificial intelligence and machine learning. In this keynote, Agrawal outlines the ways Canadian businesses, funding agencies, universities, and other institutions have pioneered research into A.I. like few other nations. In other words, Canadian inventors, scientists, programmers, and entrepreneurs are working at the very frontiers of deep and reinforcement learning—fields with nearly limitless applications for business. If we invest now, and secure our global presence, we can transform our productivity and win on a world stage. Drawing on his work with the Creative Destruction Lab and the NextAI, Agrawal outlines how Canada can seize these new opportunities, capitalize on our foresight, and reap the benefits of our early engagement with the next great shift in economics.