The second decade of the twenty-first century may not quite be the world of George Orwell, yet, but living in these times is certainly puzzling. Futurism used to be the study of the future, but nowadays it seems hard enough to read the present. Gerd Leonhard has spent his lifetime engaging with change, as a professional artist, internet entrepreneur, author and now as a visionary thinker and speaker.
Listed by Wired Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in Europe (2015), Gerds work focusses on the future of humanity and technology, digital ethics, artificial intelligence, future-leadership and communications. In his keynotes, presentations, workshops and advisory sessions Gerd addresses topics such as the what it means to be human in a world of machines and algorithms, the coming redefinition of human-machine relationships, the future of work and jobs and many more.
Gerd is a much sought-after speaker, having presented at more than 1700 events in 60+ countries since 2004. His list of clients include Google, Sony, UBS, Mastercard, Unilever, Lloyds Bank, WWF, Nokia, The Guardian, Telkom Indonesia, Siemens and many others. Gerd Leonhard is a member of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA, London), and an advisory board member of the Indian and Canadian Research Institutes. He resides in Zürich, Switzerland.
- Understanding the Future: Game-Changers and Megashifts
In this brand-new talk GErd shares his observations and foresights on three sectors: science & technology, business & society, and mindset & philosophy; customized for every specific client and their industry.
- The Future Show
A Uniquely Immersive Experience...
Teaming up with acclaimed film-maker and art director Jean-Francois Cardella, Gerd Leonhard has invented the next generation keynote-experience, fusing animations, video, audio, lights and live interaction to achieve immersive impact and lasting emotional involvement. The era of tired old powerpoint slide-presentations is a distant memory as Gerd and his team deliver a dynamic live show that is always different, leaving deep realisations and lasting memories with your audience and catalysing your tribe in an entirely new way.
- How to DO the Future, Today
I often start my talks by stating that the future is already here but that we’re just not paying enough attention. I also suggest that the future is no longer a mere extension of the present because the changes that are now impacting every aspect of our lives are exponential, combinatorial and interdependent. The future is no longer a time-frame, it’s a mindset.
‘Tomorrow’ is happening increasingly faster than we think, and it is therefore vitally important to boost our future-readiness, to nurture a future-mindset, and to ‘futurize’ ourselves as well as our organisations.
In this talk, I share my approach to observing, understanding and imagining the future, both on a personal as well as on an organisational level. The future is not something that just happens us – it is something we create!
- A NEW RENAISSANCE
The first Renaissance was a European movement away from feudal dogma to human artistry and independent thought, led by polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci. Today, the new dogmas – Technology, Data and Connectivity – are endangering human agency, threatening to literally reprogram us. Something must and can be done. Based on almost two decades of global experiences and insights as a Futurist, Gerd now outlines his vision of a new human renaissance – essentially an embrace of human sovereignty over medieval dogma – and how we can reassert the human being over its artificial substitution and replacement. For this bold new talk, Gerd rediscovers the spirit of the Renaissance to offer you a new vision based on human genius and human values. Instead of a tech-dominated dystopia full of bots and ‘thinking machines’, Gerd suggests that the future can be one of liberated expression and human mastery.
- Practical wisdom: foresight and action
Practical wisdom (Phronesis) is what I aspire to in all my work. Practical wisdom is about a specific kind of knowledge, foresight and wisdom that ties directly into action and immediate human benefit. Aristotle put it this way: “Practical wisdom is not concerned with the universals alone, but must also be acquainted with the particulars: it is bound up with action, and action concerns the particulars”
In this spirit, this impactful presentation features my key memes and statements such as ‘gradually, then suddenly is the new normal’ (exponential and combinatorial thinking), ‘technology is not what we seek but how we seek’ (human-centric progress), or ‘societies are driven by their technology but defined by their humanity’ (the importance of digital ethics). In each scene of this talk, I set forth a key realization and provide examples on what that means for business and society. A very powerful talk!
- Digital ethics / the ethics of technology
Science fiction is increasingly becoming science fact. Witness the dramatic technological advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, human genome manipulation, autonomous vehicles and quantum computing. I reckon that in 10 years technology will be almost limitlessly powerful! It is for these reasons that I believe that the ethical and humane use of technology can no longer be an afterthought, but that it is in fact an existential challenge. If we define ethics as “knowing the difference between having the right or the power to do something, and doing the right thing”, who, then will decide what is right, and who will be “mission control for humanity”? Technology is morally neutral until we use it (hat-tip to William Gibson) – and we will use it absolutely everywhere in the near future. Do we need a ‘Digital Ethics Council’?
- The digital transformation of business and society
Successful businesses always maintain a constant conversation about the future: what lessons need to be operationalized today in order to avoid future irrelevance or worse, extinction? For one thing, it is essential to understand that everything that can be digitized, automated or virtualised, will be. Cognification, automation, disintermediation and robotization and 7 other Megashifts are now taking place across all industries, globally, not just in B2C sectors like media, content and marketing. Exponential change is certain to be the #1 challenge/opportunity in the next 5-7 years. How can we – and our organisations – become better at understanding the new challenges and opportunities, and move faster to develop the mindset and implement the transformations that are required? How will a company prosper in a world that is quickly becoming hyper-connected and interdependent? What skills and mindsets will we need, and what should remain human even if it is inefficient?
- Technology and humanity: the next decade
Scientific break-throughs, exponential technological progress, economic growth and jobs often dominate the discussions when we ponder the future. However, as the world is going rapidly digital, I believe it is our humanity that needs the most attention, and it is our humanity that will make all the difference in a world dominated by algorithms and smart machines. Our future is to become more human, not less, and the biggest danger today is not that machines will eliminate us, but that we become too much like them!
Consider how quickly the world is changing: data is now really the new oil, artificial intelligence is becoming the new electricity, and the Internet of Things could well be the world’s new nervous system. Digital giants and social media platforms have replaced banks and energy conglomerates as the most powerful companies in the world. Algorithms, AI and bots are gearing up to run the show in every industry. What will happen to humans when machines become truly intelligent? What about privacy, secrets, mystery, serendipity, emotions, intuition, imagination, consciousness, and…free will?
This talk expands on the core themes explored in my recent book, Technology vs. Humanity.