The College of New Jersey’s School of Business Center for Innovation and Ethics will host a provocative author speaking on a controversial topic at its inaugural event on Monday, March 2, at 7 p.m. in the Mayo Concert Hall.

The speaker: James Barrat, right, documentary filmmaker and author of “Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era,” which was named a Huffington Post Definitive Tech Book of 2013. Barrat, based in Annapolis, Maryland, was also included in a Time magazine feature on “Five Very Smart People Who Think Artificial Intelligence Could Bring the Apocalypse.”

The presentation will be followed by a book signing and reception.

On his website,, Barrat explains that his interest in artificial intelligence stems from his 20 years’ experience writing and producing documentaries. He says it “came to a head in 2000, when I 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. ‘It won’t be some alien invasion of robots coming over the hill,’ Kurzweil told me, ‘because they’ll be made by us.’ In his compound in Sri Lanka, Clarke wasn’t so sure. ‘I think it’s just a matter of time before machines dominate mankind,’ he said. ‘Intelligence will win out.’

“Intelligence, not charm or beauty, is the special power that enables humans to dominate Earth. Now, propelled by a powerful economic wind, scientists are developing intelligent machines. Each year intelligence grows closer to shuffling off its biological coil and taking on an infinitely faster and more powerful synthetic one. But before machine intelligence matches our own, we have a chance. We must develop a science for understanding and coexisting with smart, even super-intelligent machines. If we fail, we’ll be stuck in an unwinnable dilemma. We’ll have to rely on the kindness of machines to survive. Will machines naturally love us and protect us?

“Should we bet our existence on it?”

This free event is co-sponsored by the TCNJ Schools of Engineering; Humanities and Social Sciences; Nursing, Health and Exercise Science; and Science and by the TCNJ chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

A release for the event says that “the School of Business Center for Innovation and Ethics is devoted to the idea that innovation and ethics together should shape our future.” For more information about the center and the March 2 event visit

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