Sometimes it seems that technology is the only thing that will matter in the future: data is the new oil; artificial intelligence (AI) is the new electricity; and the Internet of Things (IoT) is the nervous system. The top-20 digital giants and social media platforms are the most powerful companies in the world. Algorithms, AI and bots are gearing up to run the show in every industry. What, then, will happen to humans when machines become truly intelligent? What about privacy, secrets, mystery, serendipity, emotions, intuition, imagination, consciousness, and free will? These are also the themes explored in my recent book, Technology vs. Humanity [add link], and will remain my focus for 2019.
AI has become one of my key topics that I always relish expanding on. From a non-academic perspective I explain the differences between IA (intelligent assistance), AI and AGI (artificial general intelligence), and what each of them could mean for our future. I depict what is real and what’s not, and where AI is going in the next 10 years. Examples are drawn specifically from the client’s domain, and / or specific to an industry. This talk also covers elements from the Technology vs. Humanity themes, as outlined above, and often addresses the impact of AI on work, education and jobs, as well.
The ethics of exponential technological progress 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 future belongs to those who can hear it coming! In this fast-paced talk, I cut to the chase. Only my most important future-observations make it into this presentation. Culled from my firehose-like-mix of recent reads, news, reports, research, videos and films, and influenced by the many brilliant people I meet and speak to, this constantly updated keynote lays out the top-10 things I find most relevant for our immediate future. This talk is highly customisable and can cover almost any desired segment within business, society, technology and humanity.
Observe, Understand, Imagine, Create! 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!
The top 20 global technology brands and digital platforms are growing exponentially fast while many incumbent enterprises and former household-brands are forced to ‘pivot’ and dramatically reinvent themselves, or face sudden disintermediation and irrelevance – witness the media industry, or recently, the incumbent car industry giants in Europe. In this session, Gerd looks at how to evolve into a future-ready organization based on understanding and exploiting The Megashifts. The Megashifts include digitisation, automation, datafication, virtualisation and robotisation (for a total of 10), and understanding them is the ticket to future success. The Megashifts are fuelling are multitude of rapid innovations such as The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, deep learning and robotics, new human-machine interfaces (such as voice-control and intelligent bots). 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. Watch this related video.
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? It is essential to understand that everything that can be digitized, automated or virtualised, will be. Cognification, automation, disintermediation and robotization are now taking place across all industries, not just in media, content and marketing. Digital transformation – going from an analog or semi-digital world to a digitally-native world – is certain to be the #1 challenge-opportunity in the next 5-7 years. How can people and companies become better at understanding, and move faster to implement the transformations that are required? How will a company or an organization prosper in a world that is quickly becoming inter-connected and interdependent? What skills and mindsets will we need, and what should remain human even if it is inefficient? Watch this excerpt from a recent keynote on digital transformation.
Practical wisdom (Phronesis) is what I aspire to in my work. Practical wisdom is about a specific kind of knowledge, foresight and wisdom that ties directly into action and immediate human benefit. Aristotle puts 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.
The automation of everything, the rise of smart machines, the IoT and AI: impact on jobs and employment
Automation is everywhere, already: from electronic bridge-tolls to connected cars with dash-cams and self-parking capabilities, to digital wallets and mobile payment platforms, to networked medical devices and quantified-self applications, to sensor networks for traffic control and robotic nurses for the elderly – and this is only the beginning. The next 5 years will bring rapid advancements in all areas of AI, robotics and the Internet of Things, and almost all of them will bring more automation to every sector of our society (and I am sure this will not always be a good thing, either). In the near future we may need to focus on pursuing human-only jobs, i.e. jobs that only humans can undertake – jobs focusing on creativity, design, pattern recognition, negotiation and other ‘soft skills’, on right-brain capabilities or on emotional context. However, unemployment is very likely to soar, regardless, as ever smarter and cheaper machines increasingly automate simple work processes. So will we see the rise of a minimum guaranteed income (i.e. get paid without working) in some developed countries such as Switzerland? The very concept of work and ‘earning a living’ will need to be re-imagined, and soon.
9 Game-Changers, 11 Megashifts and 6 Future-Principles
In this brand-new talk I share my observations and foresights on three sectors: science & technology, business & society, and mindset & philosophy; customized for every specific client and their industry. Science and technology: We are confronted with 9 game-changers: data, cloud, AI, quantum computing, the Internet of Things, blockchain technologies, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality and genetic engineering (biotechnology) Business and society: the game-changers above result in 11 Megashifts that impact how we live, across the board: digitization, datafication, personalization, cognification, augmentation, robotisation, automation, disintermediation, platformization, virtualization and simulation (see wwww.megashifts.digital for details) Mindset and philosophy: In response, we need to adopt a future-ready mindset and philosophy based on the understanding that the future is exponential, convergent, combinatorial, circular, holistic and human-centric (the 6 future principles) “You have to think about the future while doing the present so that the present is going in the right direction”
Culture eats technology for breakfast
We have reached peak ‘digital transformation’ – if you haven’t heard about why you and your business need to ‘go digital’ or ‘transform into a digital organisation’ you just may have lived under a rock during the past 5 years:) Now that the ‘transform or die’ – hype is over I believe we are entering an era where it’s no longer just about upgrading your IT or investigating new business models – now it’s about how to make sense, how to stage experiences, and how to provide purpose and create tangible human benefits..
We must therefore TRANSCEND TECHNOLOGY so that we can focus on what actually matters most: human flourishing and (customer) happiness. I believe that we must invest as much in HUMANITY as we invest in technology, and we must urgently RE-HUMANIZE technology so that it serves a deeper purpose, and does not just turn humans into products by maximising their clickability..
When humans are treated like algorithms, the loss of trust is pre-programmed – and losing trust is something no organisation can afford. If you don’t want to end up like the social media platforms (who are facing a jaw-dropping loss of trust, anti-cartel legislation ….), put the HUMAN back into the center of everything you do – and the future will be yours.
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