Documentary maker Louis Theroux and artificial intelligence expert Nina Schick are heading to Aberdeen as part of a blockbuster campaign to revive Union Street.
The global stars have been confirmed as speakers for the 2024 Ultimate Masterclass Festival (UMF), organised by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) alongside series partner TotalEnergies.
They will be among six acts who will headline events scheduled throughout 2024 to boost footfall in Aberdeen City Centre.
More than 4,000 people attended the UMF series in 2023, which was headlined by ‘Diary of a CEO’ star Steven Bartlett and ‘How to Fail’ podcaster Elizabeth Day.
Over 5,000 tickets will be available for the expanded 2024 series, which is part of a £300,000 investment by the Chamber as a founding partner of the Our Union Street organisation.
Broadcaster and journalist Theroux will headline Aberdeen Music Hall on October 9 where he will share stories of his life interviewing the planet’s most controversial, extreme and fascinating characters.
He is best-known for producing immersive documentaries that explore the often controversial and complex aspects of the human condition.
His signature mix of cheek and charm has made him one of the best interviewers in the business, taking him everywhere from adult movie sets and prisons to maximum-security psychiatric units and the Church of Scientology.
Nina Schick is a world-leading authority on artificial intelligence (AI) and will headline a special dinner at the Chester Hotel on February 29, where she will discuss how AI will impact business, geopolitics and humanity.
She argues that AI is fundamentally about power and people and has advised global leaders including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Secretary General of NATO.
Schick was recently named a LinkedIn Top Voice in AI in 2023 and among the World's 20 Best Speakers on AI.
Ryan Crighton, Policy & Marketing Director at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “We created UMF for two reasons – to inspire our business community with new thinking, and to support the recovery of our city centre with exciting events.
“Last year was a huge success, but we want 2024 to be even bigger and better – so we are delighted to have Louis Theroux on board as one of our headliners.
“For three decades, he has been one of the world’s top interviewers – but for one night only, we get to ask the questions, and it’s going to be an incredible night.
“We are also very excited to bring Nina Schick to Aberdeen, given her prominent role in the global debate about artificial intelligence.
“Nina predicts that 90% of online content will be created by AI in 2030, and that humanity can reap the benefits. However, there is a dark side we all need to understand.
“Advanced AI technology can now create videos of people doing things they never did, in places they have never been, saying things they never said. It can be misused to shift public opinion, swing elections, or blackmail, coerce and silence individuals.
“If you want to understand the impact that AI is going to have on business and humanity, this is an event not to be missed.”
Tickets for the first two masterclasses of 2024 – with Louis Theroux (sponsored by Aspect) and Nina Schick (sponsored by Mearns & Gill) – are on sale now at umf.events.
Mr Crighton added: “We are in advanced talks with four other high-profile acts which we will be announcing shortly.”