Award-winning documentary filmmaker James Barrat is the author of the groundbreaking nonfiction book, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era (Thomas Dunne, 2013). Named a Huffington Post Definitive Tech Book of 2013, Our Final Invention explores the daunting risks of developing advanced Artificial Intelligence, risks that include the weaponization of AI in an international ‘intelligence arms race,’ and the annihilation of mankind at the hands (or bytes) of superintelligent machines.
Barrat’s lifelong fascination with artificial intelligence came to a head when he interviewed inventor Ray Kurzweil, roboticist Rodney Brooks, and sci-fi legend Arthur C. Clarke. Kurzweil and Brooks were casually optimistic about a future they considered inevitable — a time when we will share the planet with intelligent machines. Clarke, on the other hand, was gloomy. “Intelligence will win out,” Clarke told him. “We’ll lose the race with intelligent machines.” Clarke’s pessimism planted a seed in Barrat’s mind that gave rise to Our Final Invention.
Reviewers rave that Our Final Invention is “hard-hitting,” “important and disturbing,” “excellently written and deeply researched,” and “The compelling story of humanity’s most critical challenge. A Silent Spring for the twenty-first century.”
For two decades, James Barrat’s documentary films have set viewer ratings records for National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, and other broadcasters in the U.S. and Europe. Barrat’s films cut across cultures and eras to tell thrilling, deeply human narratives of archeology, science, and expedition-adventure. Some of his best known titles include, The Gospel of Judas, Herod’s Lost Tomb, and The Rise of the Black Pharaohs. He currently resides in Annapolis, Maryland.Download Bio
Our Final Invention Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era
Thomas Dunne Books
Named a Huffington Post Definitive Tech Book of 2013, Our Final Invention explores the daunting risks of developing advanced Artificial Intelligence, risks that include the weaponization of AI in an international ‘intelligence arms race,’ and the annihilation of mankind at the hands (or bytes) of superintelligent machines.
While exploring the unrestricted development of AI, Barrat’s talk probes some of the most important questions of our time: ethics in technology development, privacy in a digital world, job displacement, and the intellectual and social costs of our reliance on increasingly intelligent machines.
- Mitchell Daniels, President at Purdue University
"James Barrat talked to a very technically astute audience consisting of students, faculty and technical staff and credibly and entertainingly presented both optimistic and pessimistic visions of the future. His obvious ease and familiarity with both the risks and opportunities of technology combined with his wry sense of humor to create a top-rate event for the audience."
- Gerard McCartney Ph.D., System CIO and Vice President for Information Technology at Purdue University
"James Barrat gave an inspiring and compelling presentation on one of the most significant ethical issues of our time. His talk was exceedingly well received by students, faculty, and members of the wider Richmond region."
- Craig Kocher, University Chaplain and Lecturer in Leadership Studies at University of Richmond
“James Barrat is a compelling writer and a powerful, eloquent speaker on a timely topic. Whether from the podium, on a radio broadcast by the local NPR affiliate, or over a cup of coffee in my office, Barrat holds his listeners and spectators spellbound by consistently raising urgent questions about the human condition.”
- Carol Quillen, President, Davidson College
"James Barrat's broad cultural fluency and acute sense of humor combine for an invitingly personal and accessible take on the subject of artificial intelligence. He presents technologically and philosophically complex topics with popular attraction as well as intellectual appeal."
- John Syme, Senior Writer & Media Relations Coordinator, Davidson College
"James Barrat was a wonderful campus guest and the perfect keynote speaker to launch our School of Business Center for Innovation and Ethics. He visited classes and engaged students in deep discussions throughout the day. In the evening, he spoke eloquently to the college community and the public about the ethical challenges of AI. Equal parts talk and conversation, the evening was compelling, and struck just the right balance between the technical and the human challenges we face."
- Kevin H. Michels, Director of the School of Business Center for Innovation and Ethics, The College of New Jersey
"James gave KIE's Eleventh Annual Fall Lecture and did a terrific job, speaking to around 350 people. He presents a clear and compelling argument, one to which everyone should be paying close attention. The implications for advanced artificial intelligence range from utopian to the end of human planetary dominance, possible even the end of our species. James gives us plenty of reason to think it could be the latter -- a wake-up call if there ever was one. The feedback from his talk has been wonderful -- he made KIE look good!"
- Christopher Meyers, PhD, Director of Kegley Institute of Ethics