Ajay Agrawal

Professor and Founder of the Creative Destruction Lab. | University of Toronto

Named the engineer of a “Billion Dollar Breakout” by The Globe and Mail—Agrawal comes at AI’s potential as an economist and business visionary. As he shows in his keynotes, advances in AI and machine learning offer profound opportunities for human innovation. This isn’t about machines taking our jobs—rather, business leaders and entrepreneurs are in a unique position to enhance the way we all work—if those opportunities are acted upon. As founder of the University of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab (the “Silicon Valley of the North”), Agrawal’s talks unpack the full potential of AI and machine prediction. His first book, Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence is a must-read survey—and practical toolkit—for anyone seeking to leverage the disruptive, transformative power of AI in the coming decades.

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 the not-for-profit NextAI, 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 has been 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 honors. 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.


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 More