Flight Story has appointed former Google X chief Mo Gawdat as chief AI officer.

The company, co-founded by BBC Dragon and Social Chain co-founder Steven Bartlett with Oliver Yonchev, delivers digital marketing and communications for clients.

Having recently added a Web3 marketing arm (Flight3) and performance marketing arm (Flight Performance) through acquisitions, it says the AI role was created to ensure its roster of clients stay at the forefront of the changing digital media landscape. 

Gawdat’s career has spanned 30 years at the forefront of disruptive technology, including roles at IBM, Microsoft and at the helm of Google’s ‘moonshot factory’ of innovation Google X. He oversaw the creation of self-driving cars and the company’s Google Life sciences division. 

In 2021 he released a book – Scary Smart: The Future of Artificial Intelligence and How You Can Save Our World – which Flight Story says now positions him as an essential voice on the topic at a time of particular uncertainty.

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“Artificial intelligence embodies the greatest existential risk to life as we currently know it, while simultaneously offering the most significant opportunity for positive enhancement,” said Bartlett. 

“Every enterprise employing this potent technology must be cognisant and deliberative about both aspects of this reality. Without quick and informed legislative intervention, our society risks sleepwalking into an unparalleled social and economic crisis.

“As the founder of a global marketing agency which advises brands on implementing this technology, it is my responsibility to ensure we have industry leading experts at the very top of our team.”

Gawdat added: “I have spent my career fascinated by the role that technology plays, and now the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced is upon us. Artificial intelligence is the culmination of technological advancement and it is my view that it will be unprecedented in defining the way the world is shaped. 

“We need to act proactively and intelligently to its challenges: I am not in a position to not change the course of AI and its impact, but with the resources and reach I have been given, I can influence the way people perceive it – and that’s where I’m focusing my attention.

“Artificial Intelligence has been entrenched in our lives for years – it’s nothing new. In social media, for example, we’ve been working to please algorithms to further our communication reach for some time now. 

“The sophistication of digital intelligence is such that it has become autonomous and is something that needs to be appealed to, rather than controlled. It’s vital we stay attuned to how to do this, or risk being left behind.”

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