Live + Virtual Keynotes

As a speaker, Tom has a unique ability to break down complex ideas into stories and concepts that everyone can understand. A true polymath, he leverages his diverse experience to spot trends and make connections across artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and design. His primary focus is Humanistic AI and the power of collective intelligence to effect positive changes in our culture and the planet that sustains us. Audiences leave Tom’s talks with their minds expanded, their assumptions challenged, and an optimistic view of where our minds and our technology can take us.

Topics


Superhuman Potential: The Promise of Humanistic AI

The landscape of AI today is as exciting as it is complex, fraught with unknowns and exponential potential. What is the proper role of AI in relation to humanity? How do we build planetary scale AI-driven systems that deliver outcomes we want while avoiding unintended consequences? In this thought-provoking talk, Tom leverages his decades in AI development and lays out a clear ethical choice. The key lies in aligning the objective of the machine with human values: programming AI to augment and collaborate with us for the betterment of humanity. Taking a philosophical and prescriptive approach, Tom describes real-world applications from his front-row seat as advisor to over a dozen companies at the forefront of humanistic AI applications. Offering both a rallying cry and a roadmap for the future, Tom shows the way to harness and direct this powerful, pervasive technology for good.

How to Build the Future: Practical Principles for Startup Founders

In 2010 Siri was purchased by Apple and remains central to the user experience of all Apple products. Today, Siri is used more than 25 billion times a month in over 30 countries around the world. But in late 2007 when Tom and his co-founders launched their fledgling startup, none of this was guaranteed. Why did top VC firms first invest in the company, even as the sky was falling in financial markets? Tom outlines four key factors that led to Siri’s success — factors that are essential to any successful startup. He shares insider details of Siri’s trajectory, while providing real-world examples from other companies, showing how attendees can put these principles into practice with their own ventures.

AI, Big Data, and Humanity: Risks and Opportunities

Artificial Intelligence, operating on big data, opens a world of possibilities to improve how we work, play, learn, and take care of ourselves. This talk offers a cautionary tale of AI and data leading to unforeseen negative outcomes when harnessed by some of the largest companies in the world, and how a new crop of startups are using AI in a new way to foster human health and well being.  Examples of applications include health care, assistive care, and mental health – and recent work using AI to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing from his direct experience building planetary-scale AI and advising a new generation of Humanistic AI companies, Tom offers insights to entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers navigating the high-stakes decisions of AI today.

Semantic Computing: It’s Actually Here. What Will You Do With It?

Semantic computing has now reached the technical threshold where machines can read and understand the facts in almost everything you read, and everything else you might read. And today audio and video can be transcribed routinely, so machines can also read and remember the content of our conversations and sources of entertainment. What applications does this new AI competence unlock?  What happens when we augment our individual and collective memories with AI?  Tom reveals the landscape of new possibilities and offers a peek over the horizon to what might be accomplished — and how things might go off course — with this exciting new capability.

The Generation That Will Save the Ocean

Earth’s ocean is in immediate peril from climate change, pollution, and unsustainable fishing. We have one generation left to save it. Who will be the people to change the attitudes and behavior of billions around the world? They are the next generation of scientists, engineers, artists, and activists who were born digital and raised social. What will they need to do to turn the tide? In this rousing talk, Tom applies his inventor’s mind for innovation with his entrepreneur’s penchant for leadership, and lays out a roadmap for how we can move our relationship to the ocean from exploitation by the few to stewardship by us all.

Colorful Lives: Photographic Stories from the Ocean

Experience the colorful lives of underwater animals through the lens of art photography. Learn about the surprising sex lives of famous animated fish, the bizarre mating habits of punk-rock nudibranchs, and the majestic grace of the largest fish in the ocean. See the adorable playfulness of sea lions up close, and then consider the message they have for us about our relationship to the ocean. Tom is in love with life in the ocean, and is privileged to travel around the world to dive in places where marine life still thrives. With his underwater photography and video, he hopes to bring back and share what he sees to create empathy and connection with the ocean.

Booking

Caa Speakers Min

To book Tom as a speaker for your conference or event, reach out to the fine
folks at CAA and they’ll get back to you right away.

caa.com |
Email: speakers@caa.com

Logo Strip Min
Tom Gruber testimonials, Mark Zusman, Editor and Publisher, Willamette Week, Founder, TechfestNW
Mark Zusman | Editor and Publisher, Willamette Week, Founder, TechfestNW
“Tom Gruber is the rare practitioner who can lucidly explain how things work — and what they mean for us. His understanding of the social impacts of digital innovation is built from the ground up and he brings to the stage an unusual insight into A.I. and a strong sense of how designers and engineers can change digital systems to better confront the ethical challenges that this new age poses. A passionate and profound observer of digital life, Tom is in the first rank of public speakers on emerging technologies and how humans can manage them for maximum benefit.”

Live Keynotes

Tom enjoys public speaking about topics that matter today, such as the impact of AI on society, what makes a successful startup, and how to save the ocean. In talks to conferences and private audiences, he offers insights from his experience in technology research, design, startups, and travel. He loves interactive Q&A, and can tailor presentations to the interests of any audience. 

As an innovator, researcher, and serial startup entrepreneur, Tom gives audiences a front-row seat to what it means to envision the future, then set about building it. If you use Siri on your phone, learn from a threaded discussion on the Web, collaborate with colleagues in a virtual workspace, or use a computer to help you speak, it is likely that Tom helped invent it, influenced its development, or was designing an early version of it before it entered the mainstream. Many of the innovations Tom created or influenced are taken for granted today, woven into the pattern of our digitally mediated lives. 

Tom has a knack for helping audiences make sense of the complex, and apply it to their own lives. He keeps his finger on the pulse of innovation as a sought-after Impact Advisor to over a dozen companies on the cutting edge of Humanistic AI development. As a result, all Tom’s talks have an immediacy and real-world connection to what’s happening now. Experiencing Tom’s infectious vision of the future is an antidote to pessimism.

Virtual Keynotes

As an accomplished photographer and videographer, Tom is able to create dynamic and informative virtual presentations, bringing his expertise and unique perspective into the world on demand. Both pre-recorded and live events feature Tom beaming in from his state-of-the-art home studio, with professional-grade audiovisual equipment and green-screen backdrops. Crisp, clear technology means Tom and the audience can focus on the conversations that matter: The relationship of AI to humanity, what makes a successful startup, and how to save our oceans.

What AI and Big Data Can Do for Humanity | Virtual Keynote | December 4, 2020

Tom shares his insights into the power and potential of big data and AI, with examples of how things can go wrong — and the potential for doing things right. Includes Closed Captioning (cc) in English and a full transcript

Tom Gruber What AI and Big Data Can Do for Humanity, Virtual Keynote at TechfestNW Conference, December 4, 2020
Navigating the Startup Ecosystem | Virtual Keynote | December 2020

This talk describes the factors that contributed to the success of Siri the startup, and how those same strategies can be applied to successful innovative developments today. Includes Closed Captioning (cc) in English

Talking Head Frame 1536 (1)

Media Kit

Bios |  Photos |  Video |  Articles + Interviews |  Booking

Presentation Archive

Colorful Lives 1920 Sq

Colorful Lives: Photographic Stories From the Ocean

EG Conference, Carmel, CA | May 2015

Experience the colorful lives of underwater animals through the lens of art photography. Learn about the surprising sex lives of famous animated fish, the bizarre mating habits of punk-rock nudibranchs, and the majestic grace of the largest fish in the ocean. Witness the playfulness of sea lions up close, and then consider the messages they have for us about our relationship to the ocean.

Tom is in love with life in the ocean, and is privileged to travel around the world to dive in places where marine life still thrives. With his underwater photography and video, he hopes to bring back and share what he sees, to create empathy and connection with the ocean.

Read More
Tom Gruber Media Kit Photos Main Stage TED 2017 Hi Rez Download

How AI Can Enhance Our Memory, Work, and Social Lives

Main Stage TED, Vancouver, BC | April 2017

How smart can our machines make us? In his talk at TED 2017, Tom introduces the idea of Humanistic AI that augments and collaborates with us instead of competing with or replacing us. He shares his vision for a future where AI helps us achieve superhuman performance in perception, creativity and cognitive function — from turbocharging our design skills to helping us remember everything we’ve ever read. The idea of an AI-powered personal memory also extends to relationships, with the machine helping us reflect on our interactions with people over time. The upside? “Every time a machine gets smarter, we all get smarter.”

Read More
Tom Gruber at AI.x 2019

What Can AI Do for Humanity?

Keynote | AI.X Conference, Seoul, South Korea | June 25, 2019

In this talk to a gathering of over 1,000 AI practitioners, Tom showed how the misuse of AI by social media has led to over unprecedented addiction and harm to society. He gave a technical analysis of how the technology is involved and how it might be deployed differently to avoid unintended consequences. He then described several new areas in which Humanistic AI applications, applying the AI with different objectives, can produce intended consequences for human benefit, including health care, mental health care, augmentative communication, and memory enhancement.  He has given versions of this talk to business leaders who are interested in double and triple bottom line governance and forging a new contact between technology and society.

Read More
A Guiding Philosophy For Artificial Intelligence Entrepreneurs And Investors 1920 Sq

A Guiding Philosophy for Artificial Intelligence Entrepreneurs and Investors

Virtual Keynote | Skolkovo Technopark Conference, Russia | May 21, 2020

In this talk, Tom reviews key projects in his career and offers the principals on which they were chosen and factors that led to success.  He describes a key insight he learned from inventor Doug Engelbart, the formulation of a guiding philosophy, which can help entrepreneurs, researchers, and investors make decisions in their careers.

Read More
Aix2020 Roundtable 1920 Sq

The Role of AI in a Post-COVID Society

Panel Discussion | AI.X 2020 Conference, Virtual | September 10, 2020

In this dynamic roundtable, Tom joined fellow AI experts including Gary Marcus (NYU professor and founder and CEO of Geometric Intelligence); Oren Etzioni (CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence), and Yoon Kim (CTO for AI of SK Group).

Read More
Talking Head Frame 1536 (1)

Navigating the Startup Ecosystem

Virtual Keynote | December 2020

In 2010 Siri was purchased by Apple and remains central to the user experience of all Apple products. Today, Siri is used more than 25 billion times a month in over 30 countries around the world. But in late 2007 when Tom and his co-founders launched their fledgling startup, none of this was guaranteed. Why did top VC firms first invest in the company, even as the sky was falling in financial markets? In this virtual keynote, Tom outlines four key factors that led to Siri’s success — factors that are essential to any successful startup. He shares insider details of Siri’s trajectory, while providing real-world examples, showing how viewers can put these principles into practice with their own ventures.

Read More
Techfest Screen Title 1900 Sq

What AI and Big Data Can Do for Humanity

Virtual Keynote | TechfestNW | December 4, 2020

In this keynote, Tom shares his insights into the power and potential of big data and AI, with examples of how things can go wrong — and the potential for doing things right.  He reveals the role of AI within social media platforms and details how its misuse has led to over-optimization for profit and unintended consequences for humanity.  To counter this concerning trend, Tom offers examples of AI that is optimized for human mental health and well being.  Followed by an interview with John Markoff at the virtual TechFest conference.

Read More
Intelligence At The Interface 720 Sq

Intelligence at the Interface: The Virtual Assistant Paradigm for Human Computer Interaction

Keynote | BayCHI, San Francisco | December 10, 2019

BayCHI is the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction.

This talk explores the virtual assistant metaphor as an interaction paradigm, like mouse-and-menu or multi-touch.  What does it enable? Who does it empower?  What are the drivers of usability and utility? What makes it work and where can it falter? And how might the assistant metaphor serve us in a world of services powered by artificial intelligence?

The speaker led the team that designed Siri and the interaction paradigm it brought to the mainstream.

Read More
Generation 1920 Sq

The Generation That Will Save the Ocean

TEDx Mountain View | April 28, 2016

This talk was aimed at high school students in Silicon Valley, calling on them to join in the fight to save the ocean.

Earth’s oceans are in immediate peril from climate change, pollution, and unsustainable fishing. We have one generation left to save them. Who will be the ones to change the attitudes and behaviors of billions around the world?

They are the next generation of scientists, engineers, artists, and activists who were born digital and raised social. What will they need to do to save our oceans? Tom applies his inventor’s mind for innovation with his entrepreneur’s penchant for leadership, and lays out a roadmap for how we can move our relationship to the ocean from exploitation by the few to stewardship by us all.

Read More
Big Think Small Screen 1428 Wide Sq

Big Think Small Screen: How Semantic Computing in the Cloud Will Revolutionize the Consumer Experience on the Phone

Keynote | Web 3.0 Conference | January 27, 2010

A week before Siri was released to the Apple app store, Tom gave a keynote address at the Web 3.0 conference, which was about intelligent applications on the web.  In this forward-looking talk, he explains why intelligent apps like Siri were about to burst on the scene. Using the metaphor of the “perfect storm”, he explained how the “big think” of computing in the cloud combined with broadband connectivity to the new class of “small screen” computers (smartphones) would enable intelligence at the interface, and a whole new way for consumers to interact with the rapidly expanding universe of services on the web. He explains how Siri takes advantage of this moment in history, and relates to other vanguard technologies of the time including Yelp, Pandora, Shazam, Google Goggles, and Wolfram Alpha.

A journalist for Wired saw the talk and wrote this insightful piece: Web 3.0: Rosie, Jeeves & That Thing in Your Pocket

Read More
Siri Video Title Sq

Siri: A Virtual Personal Assistant (2009)

Keynote | Semantic Technologies Conference (SemTech) | June 16, 2009

In 2009 — a year before Siri was launched — Tom introduced Siri to a technical audience, laying out the key problems to be solved and the technologies involved. The talk includes an early demo of the working system, which had not yet been released to the public. A classic!

Read More
Intelligence At The Interface 1920 Sq

Intelligence at the Interface: Semantic Technology and the Consumer Internet Experience

Semantic Technologies Conference (SemTech) | May 20, 2008.

This keynote set the stage for the idea of applying AI to the user interface, grounding it in the context of semantic computing and the work on collective intelligence. The Siri startup was still in stealth mode, only a few months old. It is interesting to see the revelation of the paradigm shift to come without showing the product being worked on. Also includes historical tidbits of Siri’s predecessor at SRI by co-founder Adam Cheyer.

Read More
Despite Our Best Efforts 1920 Sq

Despite our Best Efforts, Ontologies are not the Hard Part

Presentation at AAAI Spring Symposium, March 26, 2008.
Read More
Cobblies 2 1920 Sq

Cobblies: Mashups of the Future

European GeoInformatics Workshop, Edinburgh University | March 9, 2007

Offers a vision of a framework for semantically enabled compositional applications called cobblies, the new mashups, based on geospatial data and the semantic web.

Read More
Ontologies Web 20 And Beyond Sqsh

Ontologies, Web 2.0 and Beyond

Tom Gruber (2007). Ontologies, Web 2.0 and Beyond. Keynote presentation at the Ontology Summit 2007 – Ontology, Taxonomy, Folksonomy: Understanding the Distinctions, March 1, 2007.

Read More
Grande Challenges 1920 Sq

Grande Challenges for Ontology Design

Presentation to Ontolog, March 1, 2007

Why bother with ontology design, particularly when it involves the trouble of collaborating with other people and their peculiar ideas? How does one guide a design process with any kind of objective notion of a Good Result? I think that if we do not start from this question, we are wasting our time. Outside the context of some shared goals, even arguing about what “ontology is” is, at best, ironic.

In this session I will frame a discussion about ontology design, using the model of engineering design that has brought tremendous success to electronic and physical engineering disciplines, and to some extent software engineering. My goal for the session is to identify some important and practical problems with objective engineering requirements that can motivate and guide the work of this community.

Read More
Social Meets Semantic 1920 Sq

Where the Social Web Meets the Semantic Web

Keynote | ISWC, The 5th International Semantic Web Conference | November 7, 2006

The Semantic Web is an ecosystem of interactions among computer systems. The social web is an ecosystem of conversation among people. Both are enabled by conventions for layered services and data exchange. Both are driven by human-generated content and made scalable by machine-readable data. Yet there is a popular misconception that the two worlds are alternative, opposing ideologies about how the web ought to be. Folksonomy vs. ontology. Practical vs. formalistic. Humans vs. machines.

It is time to embrace a unified view. In this talk Tom outlines what he believes is the best shot we have of collective intelligence in our lifetimes: large, distributed human-computer systems. The best way to get there is to harness the “people power” of the Web with the techniques of the Semantic Web.

 

Read More
Avoiding Travesty Commons 1920 Sq

Avoiding the Travesty of the Commons

New Paradigms for User Computing (NPUC) | IBM Almaden Research Center | July 24, 2006

Presents ways to avoid the failure of user-contributed social web sites, including techniques for integrating structured and unstructured data.

Read More
Tagontology Sq

TagOntology – A Way to Agree on the Semantics of Tagging Data

Presentation to Tag Camp, tagcamp.org | October 29, 2005.

Presentation at Tag Camp, proposing an approach and straw man for defining and ontology that would enable the exchange of tag data and the building of tagging systems that can compositionally interact with other systems.

Read More
Ahmed Galal Unsplash 1920 Sq

Helping Organizations Collaborate, Communicate, and Learn

Presented to NASA Ames Research, Mountain View, CA | March 2003

Describes why collaboration is an inherent problem for organizational intelligence, and how technology can be applied appropriately to help improve the performance and collective knowledge of organizations. Also presented to business and technical audiences, in variations, over the years 2002-2003.

Read More
Pragmatics2 1920 Sq

The Pragmatics of Ontology as Language, Contract, and Content

Keynote | Third Annual Bio-Ontologies Meeting (Bio-Ontologies 2000) San Diego, CA | August 24, 2000.

Another for-real ontology creation group.

Read More
Collab Around Shared 1920 Sq

Collaborating around Shared Content on the WWW

W3C Workshop on WWW and Collaboration, Cambridge, MA | Sept 11, 1995.

Presentation at a W3C-sponsored workshop where many of the early web collaboration people demonstrated their work.

Read More