The future belongs to those who can hear it coming

Gerd’s 2018 Topics for Keynotes and Talks

My most popular topic is “Technology and Humanity – the next 10 years”, based on my new book ‘Technology vs Humanity’. 

Technology is evolving exponentially, changing our world at mind-boggling pace. Data is indeed the new oil, and AI is the new electricity. Science fiction is increasingly becoming science fact as we are entering the age of cognitive computing, thinking machines and AI, augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of Things, deep learning, bots and intelligent digital assistants. Will this be heaven or will this be hell? One thing is certain:  The next 20 years will bring more changes than the previous 300 years.

The coming opportunities and their potential economic benefits are tantalizing, yet they will also create many vexing ethical, social and political challenges. Who is ‘mission control for humanity’ in a world that becomes totally interconnected and thus utterly dependent on technology? Who determines suitable rules, new regulations and new social contracts? How will we solve the immense challenges of security and public safety that are certain to grow exponentially as well?  What will happen to human idiosyncrasies – what I call ‘androrithms’ – such as inefficiency, mistakes, free will, believes, intuition, creativity and imagination, in this coming algorithmic world? Will it even be possible to remain a ‘mere human’?  Should humanity really converge with technology? Watch my latest film on these topics, here.

Note: my legacy (previous topics) are here.

My second most popular topic is digital transformation. I often wrap this talk around what I call the Megashifts i.e. the 10 key developments that are rapidly transforming our society, including ‘intelligization’ (aka artificial intelligence), virtualization, robotisation, automation and disintermediation. Watch my Youtube talks on digital transformation, here.

If you are interested in my previous / legacy topics, you can also download a PDF with a list of all topics from the past 5 years (note: this is a long-read) or just visit the legacy topics page.  Below is my 2017/2018 list of preferred topics – please contact my office anytime if you have any questions or feedback.

Technology and Humanity

In this groundbreaking new talk 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 technology 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. This talk is an always-evolving continuation of Gerd’s best-selling new book, and explores 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 public events, large audiences spanning all corporate divisions and borders, as well as for executive client conferences.  Watch Gerd’s #techvshuman keynotes and films on Youtube

Artificial intelligence (AI) Futures

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a global buzzword, and investments in AI, machine/deep learning and many related fields are exploding. The excitement is clearly infectious yet many leading scientists and technologists have voiced grave concerns about controlling AI, or rather, AGI (artificial general intelligence), and an AI-arms-race between the U.S. and China seems almost inevitable. At the same time, the benefit of intelligent assistance (IA) and so-called narrow AI holds huge promise for all sectors of business and industry, such as in financial services and banking, healthcare and medical, logistics, smart cities and the Internet of Things, in general. In this talk, Gerd outlines his 7-year view of the opportunities and challenges of AI, with a particular focus on what the implications for our society and culture as well as for humanity overall might be. Technology is morally neutral until we apply it – and we apply it everywhere, now! Watch Gerd’s videos on AI, here.

Man and Machine Convergence: heaven or hell?

In an era when machines are not only taking our jobs but are starting to run our lives, as well, how will we respond to the unprecedented economic, societal and ethical questions that this human-machine symbiosis will raise? Exponential technological change is  impacting our lives at every turn, and intelligent digital agents (IDAs) and bots are about to become as normal as smartphones. What will it mean to be human in the near future? What will happen to work and jobs, to our social contracts and ethics, and to the way we do business? HellVen  (Hell+Heaven) challenges and opportunities will abound: this could be heaven based on total abundance that may create a kind of ‘Startrek-Economy’, or it could just as easily be a dystopian hell – depending on how we prepare and lead with foresight, today.  What do we need to do to make sure our future is mostly heaven, collectively?  What are the political consequences, and what about regulation, treaties and agreements?

Offline is the new luxury – staying human in hyper-connected world

Recent research suggests that the power-users of social networks count among the loneliest people in the world, and that interacting too much with screens and devices as opposed to actual people may have severe toxic side-effects on human relationships. Increasingly, technological advances such as the smartphone and augmented / virtual reality and intelligent digital assistants first feel like ‘magic’, but after the initial excitement some of us experience a rather ‘manic’ obsession with them, and subsequently, the toxic effects of overuse such as attention deficit disorder or social isolation are not far off. A new wave of addiction to hyper-connectivity, dopamine-producing ‘likes’ and overall FOMO (fear of missing out) is already on the horizon – we can only speculate where an exponential growth of these issues may leave us within a decade (Black Mirror, anyone?). Do we need to remind ourselves and relearn how to be ‘merely human’, to be unaltered and un-augmented, to sense with our own eyes and ears, to be in the moment and to listen to ourselves and others instead of ‘forgetting ourselves’ among those magical devices and intelligent algorithms? This talk will point the way towards finding a good balance.

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 ? 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.

UnderstaNDing The Megashifts – The next 7 years in technology, Business and Society

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.

From Disruption to construction: Futurizing your business

In this dynamic talk, Gerd delivers the immersion and the excitement that is often necessary to truly futurize your business or organisation, and to challenge and change established mindsets, toxic assumptions or satisfied attitudes. Understanding that the ‘digital default’ is becoming the new normal is often crucial to the process of constructing a new future. Angling for quick disruptions is no longer sufficient: everything and everyone is getting connected, everywhere and at all times; mobile devices have already become our external brains while bots and intelligent assistants are next – connected devices are now truly becoming the ‘the extension of man’. This coming hyper-networked society will not just change the very definition of ownership, property and control, but business models in general will become increasingly transient rather than permanent and predictable. How can you get ready for this kind of VUCA future, personally and professionally? How will you move beyond disruption towards constructing a truly sustainable future? Watch this keynote excerpt on how to become future-ready.

How to DO THE FUTURE

The future is already here but often we just haven’t paid enough attention to it – and given that today, the future is no longer just an extension of the present, not listening to the near future (5-7 years) could well be detrimental. The challenge is that future is now simultaneously exponential, combinatorial and interdependent, and ‘tomorrow’ is happening increasingly faster – what used to take 10 years is now often happening in 3 years, and big companies used to last 75 years in average, while now it’s 16 years. It is therefore vitally important to boost your future-readiness, to ‘futurize’ yourself as well as your company and organisation. The future is a mindset not a timeframe. In this talk, Gerd shares his approach to observing, understanding and imagining the future, both on a personal as well as on a organisational level. The future belongs to those that can hear it coming!

LEADING INTO 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.

Human-Machine Relationships – are you on Team Human?

Perhaps the most burning issue facing humanity is our ever-deepening relationship with the computers, bots, devices, robots and machines that increasingly surround our lives, everywhere and at all times. Humans and ‘intelligent machines’ are increasingly interconnecting and overlapping; and some Silicon Valley pundits may even argue that a full symbiosis of man and machines is near. The Internet of Things (IoT) is already here, and artificial intelligence has become a global buzzword. But how will we – as linear and utterly inefficient beings – cope with this increasing empowerment of software and machines, and this global tsunami of real-time information? What will happen to our values and ethics in a world of ultra-smart intelligent agents, artificial intelligence and the coming ‘singularity’? Most importantly, how will we define a good man-machine balance, going forward, and how will we keep humans-in-the-loop? Watch this keynote excerpt from a recent talk about Team Human.

Keynote Speeches

Gerd offers keynote speeches in a wide variety of formats. Interventions, presentations and talks can range from 15 to 90 minutes (with or without slides).  Gerd also offers longer ‘future-discovery’ sessions, workshops, seminars and some executive future-coaching. His latest corporate offering is The Futurizing Program. Gerd is also a film-maker and heads up all TFA Studio projects. He is also available for participation in fire-side chats, talk-shows, public debates and TV shows, and enjoys moderating events, as well. Gerd presents both in English as well as in German language.

Download the current topics as PDF: 2017 Print Current Topics – Futurist Gerd Leonhard


Available Formats

  1. A keynote with customised slides (30-60 minutes)
  2. A keynote / talk without slides (i.e. no visuals)
  3. A shorter keynote (with/without slides) plus an interview or a ‘conversation with Gerd’ (15-30 minutes each)
  4. A conversation with Gerd (no presentation, interview or fireside-chat format)
  5. A remote presentation via video or telepresence

Gerd’s Fees are based on these variables:

  1. Existing topic (see above), with some simple customizations (lowest fee)
  2. Existing topic (see above), but with a much larger amount of customization
  3. A new topic or subject matter, researched and designed for a specific client (most costly)
  4. An existing topic delivered as pre-recorded presentation and subsequent remote video discussion
  5. A live video-presentation from Gerd’s studio in Zürich
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