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  • OEB 2019 Opening Plenary
    OEB 2019 Opening Plenary
  • What moral decisions should driverless cars make? | Iyad Rahwan
    What moral decisions should driverless cars make? | Iyad Rahwan
  • Iyad Rahwan: How to trust machines?
    Iyad Rahwan: How to trust machines?
  • How Can We Make Surveillance Work for Us?
    How Can We Make Surveillance Work for Us?
  • 2017-04 The Future of Work in a World of AI, ML, and Automation
    2017-04 The Future of Work in a World of AI, ML, and Automation
  • Iyad Rahwan: The Moral Machine
    Iyad Rahwan: The Moral Machine
  • Why We Need A New, Algorithmic Social Contract | Iyad Rahwan | TEDxCambridgeSalon
    Why We Need A New, Algorithmic Social Contract | Iyad Rahwan | TEDxCambridgeSalon
  • Iyad Rahwan
    Iyad Rahwan
  • Joi Ito and Iyad Rahwan on AI & Society
    Joi Ito and Iyad Rahwan on AI & Society
  • Iyad Rahwan | Can We Make Surveillance Work for Us?
    Iyad Rahwan | Can We Make Surveillance Work for Us?

Learn More About Iyad Rahwan

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®.

Iyad Rahwan was last modified: August 4th, 2022 by

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How Emerging Technologies Will Impact the Future of Business and Society

The way humans engage with the world is increasingly driven by technology. The good news is, organizations can now make more informed, strategic decisions around technologies they build and use before they invest. In this talk, acclaimed futurist, computer scientist and AI scholar Iyad Rahwan, director of the Center for Humans & Machines at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, discusses his team’s ongoing research, which shows how rapidly emerging technologies driven by AI, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and the metaverse, will shape the way people think, learn, work, play, cooperate and govern. His careful experimental and data-driven insights give participants the information they need to strategically invest in and plan for the future with a higher level of certainty about likely outcomes.

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.

The Nightmare Machine

October 24, 2016

Improve Investment Decisions and Society by Understanding the Future Impact of Technology on Humans

Acclaimed futurist, computer scientist and AI scholar Iyad Rahwan, director of the Center for Humans & Machines at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, leads a diverse team of more than 20 interdisciplinary researchers who conduct unique experiments grounded in behavioral science. Their data help organizations understand and anticipate how rapidly emerging advances in digital media and AI will shape the way people think, learn, work, play, cooperate and govern. As an advisor, he shares the meticulously curated data his team gathers with decision makers to help them shape the future of their business and society with more certainty about likely outcomes. He works with organizations in every industry and can cover any or all of the following topics during virtual or in-person advisory meetings, which can be customized to meet the needs of your organization and the size of your audience.

  • The Future of Autonomous Vehicles: Safety, Ethics, Investment
  • Financial and Business Implications of an AI-driven Economy and Society
  • Future of Work: Human-AI Cooperation and Collaboration
  • How Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) Will Shape Society and Business
  • AI and Bias: Ethical Approaches to Developing Technology
  • Machine Learning and Algorithms: Preventing Harm While Leveraging Benefits
  • Extracting Value from Data
  • Building Successful Collaboration Through Social Networks
  • The Future of Surveillance: How to Make It Work for Society and Business
  • The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Biology, Economics, Consumer Behavior, Psychology, and Sciences
  • Strategically Investing in the Future of Automation