jacob ward

• NBC News technology correspondent

• Expert on the social implications of technology

Jacob Ward is an NBC News technology correspondent, and science & tech contributor for CNN, Al Jazeera, and PBS. The former editor-in-chief of Popular Science magazine, Ward writes for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Wired. His ten-episode Audible podcast, Complicated, discusses humanity’s most difficult problems, and he’s the host of the four-hour public television series, Hacking Your Mind, about human decision making and irrationality–streaming via PBS and Amazon Prime Video.

Previously, Ward was a 2018-2019 Berggruen Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, where he worked on "Black Box: Bias, AI, and the Fight to Amplify Humanity," which explored the unintended ways artificial intelligence amplifies good and bad human instincts.

Speech topics

FutureScan: The Disruptive Technologies That Will Shape the 21st Century

Forget the incremental stuff. Get ready for the big technological changes that will change our world. Billion-dollar spacecraft are being replaced by student-designed cubes that cost less than a luxury car. Robots are poised to take over driving and manufacturing, sure, but also design, cuisine, even romance. Military-funded research programs won’t just read your mind, they'll write new information into it. And when AI lines up alongside the technological ability to rewrite our genetic code, the combination could give us power over life and death itself. Jacob Ward, former editor-in-chief of Popular Science, has spent a career forecasting the future, and in this talk he describes the world’s most dramatic and disruptive technological breakthroughs, and what they’ll mean to you.

How AI will Change the Way We Live and Think

For most of us, our own mind is a black box: an all-powerful and utterly mysterious device that runs our lives for us. And not only do we humans just barely understand how it works, science is now revealing that it makes most of our decisions for us using rules and shortcuts of which you and I aren’t even aware. Meanwhile, every area of human activity, from criminal justice to corporate hiring to military strategy, is turning to “black box” artificial intelligence systems for cost savings, efficiency, and moral clarity. Jacob Ward reveals the relationship between the unconscious habits of our minds, and the way that AI is poised to amplify them, alter them, maybe even reprogram them.

The Bias Glitch: Inclusive Leadership for the 21st Century

Did you know your brain absorbs emotions from other people and then broadcasts them on your face without your awareness? Did you know that the first person to mention a salary figure in a job negotiation always gets her way? Did you know that we humans consistently remember ourselves as having predicted the future correctly, even when we didn't? Former editor-in-chief of Popular Science Jacob Ward, now science correspondent for Al Jazeera television and host of the landmark public television series Hacking Your Mind, delivers a high-energy crash course in the revolutionary findings of a pioneering group of decision scientists around the world. Jake unpacks the lessons those findings have taught us about the nature of bias, persuasion, and happiness itself, and reveals the cutting-edge research that could help us turn our glitchy cognitive habits into bulletproof methods for building better companies, creating smarter products, and navigating the modern world.

How Robots Will Shape Our Future

Did you know that in a dogfight above a battlefield, the shorter pilot almost always wins? That’s because the G forces of the plane act more strongly on someone with a longer distance between heart and brain. It’s the human being that limits the performance of the aircraft, and that’s why the US Air Force plans to automate fighter jets from now on. Did you know that in car crashes the human driver is at fault nearly 90% of the time? That’s why car companies are willing to take over your car insurance payments to get you into a robot car. And did you know that defensive maneuvers like shooting down an incoming missile generally have to happen so fast that a human can’t even be involved? That’s why from cyberwarfare to missile defense, human beings are being replaced by robots. But when we remove human limitations from a system, we also remove human morals and human sensitivities. Jacob Ward discusses the tension between what we can build, and what we should build.

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