A post-corona future: what to expect in the next 3-5 years!
Our world has been dramatically rebooted by the covid19 crisis - and there is no 'going back to normal', anytime soon. This crisis feels devastating to many of us but I think it also creates a unique opportunity for what I call The Great Transformation. This keynote (remotely or in-person) will address topics such as:
Our future could be hell or it could be heaven – it’s our choice! The progress of science – and the technological innovations that are build on it – remains on an exponential and combinatorial track. I think it is fair to say that our world is going to change more in the next 10 years than in the previous 100 years (have a look at my Game-Changers and the free Megashifts chapter from my recent book).
2 of today’s principles will remain valid: 1) Technology can do great things – but it does not want to do great things. It does not want anything. *Tim Cook 2) Technology is not good or bad, it just is – it is morally neutral until we apply it (W. Gibson). A world based on exponential technological progress could be hell or it could be heaven – and it’s up to us to create our preferred future (watch this video). In this talk, I am sharing my key in/foresights on what is likely to happen by 2030, and present my vision on how our future could end up being mostly heaven.
The bottom line is that we are very likely to have almost all the necessary tools for realising those ‘heavenly’ scenarios at our disposal within the next decade: tackling climate change, solving water and food shortages, switching to renewable energy (prioritising nature as the WEF puts it), and preventing life-threatening diseases. But technology will not solve social, political and other ‘human’ problems – this will be up to us. We will have all the right tools – but will we decide on the right policies?
This adage holds true for most things that might cause us harm but that we enjoy, regardless – be it food, coffee or alcohol. Today, this obvious need for responsibility and balance is particularly glaring when we consider our exponential technological progress and the increasingly dominant (some would say monopolistic) status of the world’s leading tech giants. Our tech can now do so many amazing things that many of us are constantly tempted to succumb to its wonders all the time, everywhere, and by default; blissfully providing access to our data in return for using a convenient app for free. Yet if you’re concerned about this today, just wait until augmented/ virtual/mixed reality gadgets and apps are perfected – you ain’t see nothing yet! Turning human relationships into algorithmic reductions and treating users as mere ‘content sources’ to be data-mined and manipulated has become a trillion dollar business. So if indeed ‘technology is morally neutral – until we use it (W. Gibson)’ how will we decide what is morally right or wrong?
While a decade ago even the most advanced data-scraping efforts were hobbled by the lack of real-time streams, computer processing power and bandwidth issues, today there are vastly less limits to how far ‘big data’ or ‘big tech’ or ‘big social’ companies can take their data-mining efforts. Imagine where this may take us, on an exponential scale, and based on the combinatorial power of simultaneous scientific break-throughs.
Science fiction is indeed becoming science fact. We must now ensure that human concerns and values will still be more important than mere technological feasibility. And it is not the tools (or even their providers) that are at fault when things go wrong but our flawed policies, social contracts and regulations. After all, “Technology is not what we seek, but how we seek” (a key quote from my last book)
In this talk, I make the case for why and how exponential technological progress (and those entities that turn it into powerful products) should be regulated in order to avoid both a chilling dominance of the largest players, worldwide, and an overall dehumanisation of society.
We must now face the fact that wide-ranging and disruptive carbon taxes are inevitable. Yet after the initial shock waves – and if done right – carbon taxes might not only inject Trillions of $/€ into climate change adaptation and mitigation measures (a huge opportunity in itself), but may also fund up to 100 Million new jobs in all sectors related to sustainability. In addition, the much debated shift to shareholder- (not just shareholder-) value is likely to reboot stock-markets around the world in the next 5-7 years, as we transition from the quickly outmoding, single bottom-line of PROFIT to what I call the quadruple bottom-line: People, Planet, Purpose and Prosperity (sustainable capitalism). Lastly, I think 2020 marks the beginning of a New Renaissance as responsible investing – and rapid divestment from fossil fuels, in particular – is quickly becoming a #1 topic with every fund and every family office, around the globe.
In this talk, I often venture beyond climate and energy issues to also address related topics such as the humanly sustainable use of technology (if desired).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have spoken a lot about happiness in many of my talks since 2015, and it’s an important chapter in my book Technology vs Humanity. Now, I am making this theme an official 2020 speaking topic.
Trust isn’t digital. Machines don’t do relationships. Happiness is not a download, and it can’t be automated or digitized.
Sure, technology is great a giving us many hedonic pleasures such as free phone calls, access to unlimited music, TV Shows and films, networking opportunities for business or shopping online. But at the same time, unhappiness appears to be rising around the world (as are mental health issues and opioid addiction), and the power-users of social networks have the highest suicide rate of any population segment. Is technology, done wrong, ‘bicycles for the mind but bullets for the soul’?
Does ‘too much technology’ (#toomuchmagictech) lead to unhappiness? Does too much tech prevent us from being open to true happiness? If so, how would we balance technology and our need for real happiness? As big tech offers its hedonistic pleasure traps, how can we protect and pursue those deeper forms of happiness (eudaemonia) that involve empathy, compassion, and consciousness ? And what does that all have to do with digital well-being?
Technology is very good at giving us what we want but very bad at giving us what we need. Technology is not what we seek but how we seek. We will not find real happiness on a screen or in VR, or in the cloud.
One of the following topics