Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming

Themes & Topics for Keynotes, Talks and Presentations

My main 2017 topic: Technology and Humanity – what does the future hold?  Technology is gaining exponentially, all around us, changing our world at an ever-faster pace. Data is indeed the new oil, and the world’s most powerful companies are no longer the oil companies and the banks but the global internet and technology companies and platforms. Science fiction is becoming science fact, as we are entering the age of cognitive computing and AI, deep learning, bots and intelligent digital assistants. Add augmented and virtual reality, dramatic advances in human genome editing techniques and the material sciences, and the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things, and it clear that the next 20 years will change humanity more than the previous 300 years. Technology is morally neutral until we apply it (W. Gibson) – and now, technology is being applied everywhere, and for everything. These developments will bring vast opportunities and enormous potential benefits to our society, but they also create a myriad of ethical, social and political challenges, such as: Who is ‘mission control for humanity’ in a world that becomes totally interconnected and thus dependent on technology? Who sets the rules and standards, and what social contracts will need to be reviewed or altered? How will we solve the huge challenges of security and public safety that are certain to grow exponentially as well?  What will happen to human idiosyncrasies and ‘androrithms’ such as inefficiency, mistakes, free will, believes, intuition, creativity, imagination, serendipity … in such a machine-centric world? Will it be even possible to remain human as we currently define it? Are we inevitably heading towards trans/post-humanism, or do we need to apply a more precautionary approach to these developments?  Should humanity really converge with technology, in a biological sense, or should we draw the line somewhere – and if so, who decides where exactly that is?

My second most popular topic is digital transformation which has recently become kind of a ‘suitcase word’ (i.e. a word that everyone likes to stuff full of different meanings) but that has nevertheless moved to the center stage of practically every enterprise. In reality, digital transformation is just one of multiple Megashifts which will imminently transform our society, including ‘intelligization’ (aka artificial intelligence – another popular suitcase word), virtualization, robotisation, automation and disintermediation. Gerd Leonhard encapsulates these evolutionary changes – which are now happening at exponential speed – so that your audience can grasp the core principals at work and make better decisions.

Through a comprehensive set of speaking themes, he dives deep into each Megashift as it impacts our lives both economically and socially – before supplying his own unique insights and strategic advice on how best to turn disruption into construction. Gerd’s core themes straddle the work-life divide, embracing transformational changes in the way we both generate value and live life as humans. At least ten Megashifts are currently altering business and society out of all recognition, just as the moment when computing capacity will equal human brain power – the so-called Singularity – rapidly approaches. Thematic talks and engagements from Gerd (and his team) cover the entire range of technological and human changes which demand immediate debate and decision making, creating a critical mass of awareness and buy-in among global audiences, within and beyond corporate walls.

Business leaders and event planners who choose one of the themes below often aim to:
• Master the Megashifts before they are disrupted by competitive forces
• Apply interconnected insights to acquire a big-picture strategic understanding
• Accelerate a digital transformation strategy exposed to corporate inertia
• Reinvent their value chain, business model, strategic portfolio or brand performance
• Disrupt groupthink and inherited mindsets which limit freedom of maneuver

Download the PDF with all current topics: Gerd Leonhard New 2016 topics

Technology vs Humanity

In this groundbreaking new speaking engagement based on his new book, Gerd addresses the “future shocks” that lie in wait for humanity as it tumbles into a world of Big Data / Tech / AI dominance. This impactful presentation at the intersection of digital futures and ethics will engage your audience way beyond their daily concerns, and challenge the very core of being human – our shared values, believes and desire for happiness. Technology vs Humanity is the continuation of Gerd’s new publication of the same name, and will explore the coming clash of machine and mankind in detail – one that will make all other ‘industrial revolutions’ seem like kindergarten. This is a classic keynote engagement for large audiences spanning corporate divisions and borders, as well as for executive client conferences.  Watch Gerd’s #techvshuman keynotes and films on Youtube

The Megashifts – The next 5 years in technology and innovation

Global technology brands and platforms are now being born (or die) faster than ever before, while renowned industry enterprises are dramatically reinventing themselves or facing sudden irrelevance. In this session, Gerd looks at how to successfully survive the Darwinian phase of ‘Cybermorphosis’ and evolve into a future-literate organization. Exponential technological progress is fuelling a multitude of parallel developments such as The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, deep learning and robotics, the re-definition of privacy and security, new human-machine interfaces (such as voice control), the complete reinvention of marketing and advertising and the rise of smart-cloud-everything-everywhere (i.e. content, money, education, health, transportation etc). At the same time, we are just about to redefine the future meaning of ‘capitalism’ based on interdependence and eco-systematic thinking rather than on traditional profit & growth paradigms. In this riveting talk, Gerd depicts the key trends, reveals the likely minefields and identifies the key opportunities, dishing up a mixture of future-shock and awesomeness to stimulate some serious thinking.

LeadING TO THE future

Enterprise leadership has until now been largely based on military examples – hence the chief “officers” of various kinds. But because of exponential technological developments, leadership is changing in radical ways, as well. How can you grasp the changing nature of your role above and beyond shareholder value? What human skills will you need to evolve alongside the strategic, financial or technological and engineering ones you may have already mastered? And how can you leave backward-looking, or ‘toxic-assumption’ – decision making behind and start deploying a future mindset? In this new talk, Gerd Leonhard addresses a world of leadership where most of the old models are suddenly obsolete, and delivers inspirational precepts from the parallel worlds of imagination and invention. Watch Gerd’s keynotes on leadership.

Beyond the Valley of Death OF Digital disruption

This talk positions transformative change front and centre in any incumbent business strategy – asking us to look beyond merely superficial concepts of physical versus virtual to completely remodelled ecosystems of value often as yet undreamt. Technology initially impacted primarily the music, media, publishing and entertainment industries – in many cases dramatically shrinking the margins and reducing the costs to the consumer. This is now beginning to happen in most other industries, as well – from travel and transportation to healthcare, insurance and manufacturing – presenting the challenge of steep initial declines in traditional revenue streams followed by an often painful rebuilding and transformation process that must look towards a new, post-disruption world of over 5 billion connected ‘consumers’, many of whom are already learning to also ‘prosume’. How can we build bridges over the valleys of death, and how can we discover what lies at the other end?

Disruption and construction – Growing your business in the next seven years

In this dynamic discussion, Gerd Leonhard delivers the understanding and excitement that is often necessary to challenge and change establish mindsets or satisfied attitudes. The ‘digital default’ is near: everything and everyone is getting connected, everywhere, anytime, at increasingly lower cost. The mobile phone has become our external brain already, bots and the ‘global brain’ are next, and all kinds of connected devices are now truly becoming the ‘the extension of man’. The coming hyper-networked society will change the very definition of ownership and property (look at the media business), control and innovation – business opportunities will become transient rather than permanent or even sustainable. How can you get ready for this kind of future, personally and professionally? Which unintended consequences do we need to consider? If disruption is the order of the day, who will be doing the construction? How does critical thinking at the strategy and leadership level need to change in order to anticipate rather than respond to changes?

The Digital Transformation of Business and Society

If business is a conversation about the future, and digitization is how that future will take place – what lessons need to be operationalized now to avoid future irrelevance and extinction? Everything that can be digitized and automated, will be. Digitization, automation, disintermediation and robotization are now taking place across all industries, no longer just in the media where it all started. Digital transformation – going from an analog or semi-digital world to a digitally-native world – is certain to be an essential challenge-opportunity in the next 5 years. How can people and companies become better at understanding, and faster at implementing the transformations that are required? How will a company or an organization be safe and prosper in a world that is quickly becoming inter-connected and interdependent? What skills, traits and trainings will we need? In a world of followers and copycats, how will you ensure your digital transformation is not only genuine and integrated, but individual and unique?

Human-Machine Relationships – THE FUTURE

Perhaps the most burning issue facing humanity is our ever-intensifying relationship with the apps, devices and machine that surround our lives. Humans and ‘intelligent machines’ are increasingly interconnecting and overlapping. The Internet of Things aka the internet of everything is already here, and artificial intelligence and the singularity are global buzzwords. AI is certain to play a huge role everywhere, and robots are dropping in price dramatically, while gaining quickly in functionality and skills. But how will we – as linear beings – cope with this increasing empowerment of software and machines, the huge uptake in the flow of real-time information, and the far-reaching implications that these developments will have? What will happen to our ethics in a world of ultra-smart intelligent agents, artificial intelligence and the coming ‘singularity’? Most importantly, how are you going to choose the right man-machine balance for your future culture, organization or community?

Man and Machine: mastering HellVen

In an era when machines are not only taking our jobs but are quietly starting to run our lives, as well, how is your enterprise poised to master the unprecedented technological and ethical questions that this man-machine convergence will raise? Exponential technologies are impacting our lives everywhere. Intelligent digital agents (IDAs) and bots are likely to become as normal as smartphones. Artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, deep learning and cloud-robotics are hot topics everywhere. Where is this going? What will it mean to be human in the near future? What will happen to work and jobs, or to our social contracts, our ethics and the way we do business? HellVen (Hell/Heaven) challenges and opportunities will abound: this could be a kind of nirvana for humanity, or it could just as easily spell disaster – depending on how we prepare and act, today. Equally, there is the hope of tackling global problems such as such as climate change, energy, water and food shortages, based on vastly exponential scientific progress; and at the same time we are looking at the potential threat of humans becoming machines as one of many unintended consequences. Who will be in charge of whether this becomes heaven or hell, and what do we need to do today to address this challenge, today? This is a burning issue for all organizations, from consumer goods companies and healthcare providers to government and science.

The future of the professions

The professional class are no longer above digitization or even automation. As you become the next front line of structural change, how can you not only ensure successful survival but actually evolve beyond the threats and rewards of digital Darwinism? Technological change is already brutally exponential but keep in mind that we are now at ‘4’ and the next step is ‘8’, not 5. Traditional innovation tactics will clearly not be sufficient in this new environment – and neither will most traditional metrics of growth and success. Within an incredibly short time and space, the Internet is becoming dramatically mobile, social, video and artificially intelligent – encompassing everyone and everything, becoming ubiquitous as water, air or electricity. In this context, it is crucial to embrace yet to humanise and transcend technology; to hone in on what makes us truly human rather than a ‘better machine’: things such as imagination and intuition, creativity, problem-solving, complex understanding, improvisation, emotions and plasticity. We must therefore let go of the ‘machine-work’ – and most its traditional metrics, KPIs and success measurements – to truly reinvent what our jobs, work and ‘professional services’ can mean in the future.

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