As a Futurist and a Humanist, [virtual] Keynote Speaker, Advisor, Author and Film-Maker I strive to share foresights and practical wisdom with my audiences and clients. I focus on actionable observations for the next 5-10 years, in Society and Humanity, in Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Healthcare, Banking and Government, Jobs and Education, Human Resources, Tourism and Mobility.
Since the beginning of the Covid19 crisis, a lot of my work has zeroed in on what I now call Beyond-Corona-Future scenarios i.e. the near-future impact of the 2020 crisis on all aspects of our lives and the resulting “Great Transformation”.
Updated January 22, 2021: I just added a brand-new variation on the Beyond-Corona topic, entitled ‘The Good Future: People, Planet, Purpose and Prosperity”. Read more here.
Our world has been dramatically shaken up by the Covid19 crisis – and it’s becoming clear that there is no such thing as ‘going back to normal‘. The utter uncertainty resulting from this crisis often feels devastating, yet I believe that this situation also presents a very unique opening for what I call The Great Transformation: What seemed impossible just a year ago, has now become the ‘New Normal’ (like….helicopter-money). And we are questioning those traditional ‘normals’ more than ever before, such as globalisation, working from the office (vs WFH), economic, racial and gender inequality, the shortcomings of extreme capitalism, the insufficient action on climate change, over-tourism and excessive air-travel, and much more. WATCH THIS PLAYLIST with the latest talks on this topic. Visit this new topic overview page.
Our world is being painfully but irreversibly rebooted by the Covid19 crisis – and we are not ‘going back to normal’. To many of us, this crisis may feel quite devastating but I think it also creates a very unique opportunity for what I call ‘The Great Transformation‘. Watch the latest keynote videos here. Have a look at my new Beyond Corona Topic Page (January 2021).
This keynote (usually held remotely) addresses topics such as:
As you may have guessed, this keynote is usually held virtually i.e. as a digital keynote, but in some instances can also be in-person i.e. in ‘real-life’, and for those with smaller budgets I now offer new interview & conversations formats, as well.
All too often, scientific breakthroughs, the latest technological achievements or obsession with GDP-growth dominate discussions about our future. Yet as the world is rapidly going digital and virtual, I believe it actually is our humanity that needs the most attention, and that it will be our humanness which will make all the difference.
Computers will inevitably outpace humans in mere processing power, logic and efficiency, and the resulting ‘End of Routine’ is a certainty. Thus, the ticket to our future is to become more human, not less, not to compete with the machines but to use their increased competence to handle those tedious commodity tasks better and faster. Machines, computers and algorithms should have competence not consciousness.
What will happen to humans when machines become truly ‘intelligent’? What about privacy, mystery or serendipity? And what of emotions, intuition, imagination, consciousness (what I call, in my last book, the androrithms)? In this talk, I outline the challenge as well as some possible solutions – The Future is better than we think!
The biggest danger today is not that machines will eliminate us, but that we may become too much like them. (More details here.)
Wide-ranging new carbon taxes are inevitable – during the Covid crisis we have learned that being prepared for emergencies is essential and that we can compromise if we have to. Covid19 is essentially a test-run for climate change. As just one clear indication, many EU stimulus packages are now tied to CO2 reduction requirements. If done right, new taxes on airline tickets and meat consumption might not only inject Trillions of $/€ into climate change adaptation and mitigation measures (a huge opportunity in itself), but will also create Millions of new jobs in many sectors related to sustainability. I think the circular economy will be the only economy by 2030.
In addition, the much debated shift to shareholder-value is likely to reboot stock-markets around the world in the next 5-7 years, as we transition towards the 4Ps: People, Planet, Purpose and Prosperity (see above).
Lastly, 2021 marks the beginning of a New Renaissance as responsible investing – and rapid divestment from fossil fuels, in particular – is quickly becoming a priority topic for every fund and every family office, around the globe.
This talk is more focussed on sustainability, energy and ‘Green Futures” then the “The Good Future” talk listed above (but these 2 are often combined, as well). More Details Here.
Amidst the fears and everyday realities of the pandemic, the increasing urgency to address global warming and the societal challenges of technological hyper-transformation the world continues to change at a mind-boggling pace. Radical and once unthinkable climate-emergency measures like new carbon taxes (such as for aviation or meat) are becoming increasingly likely as consumers and concerned citizens around the world push for real change. At the same time, Company CEO’s are touting their new commitments to stakeholder values, not just shareholder values.
The Covid19 crisis is amplifying our already urgent questions such as: What kind of future do we want? Is our economic logic suitable for the future? Will ‘free and open markets’ deliver solutions for complex global issues?
‘Green New Deals‘ are blossoming everywhere. Waves of new funding will be injected into climate change adaptation and mitigation, creating 100s of Millions of new jobs in sustainability-focused sectors.
This global shift towards a new kind of capitalism will reboot markets around the world in the next 5-7 years as we transition from the outdated single bottom-line of GDP-Growth and Profit to what I call the quadruple bottom-line: People, Planet, Purpose and Prosperity (aka sustainable capitalism, post-capitalism or conscious capitalism).
Sustainable is the New Profitable. PURPOSE is the new Product.
The top 20 global technology brands and digital platforms are growing exponentially while many incumbent enterprises and former household-name-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 eye-opening session, Gerd looks at how to evolve into a future-ready organisation based on understanding and exploiting The Megashifts, a key meme first presented in Gerd’s recent book Technology vs. Humanity. The Megashifts include digitisation, automation, datafication, virtualisation, robotisation, and others (for a total of 11), and understanding them is the ticket to future success. The Megashifts are fuelled by a multitude of game-changers 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. Download the free Megashifts chapter from my book ‘Technology vs. Humanity’, here.
Scientific breakthroughs, 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.
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:) But now that this initial “transform or die” hype is winding down we are entering an era where it is no longer just about upgrading your IT-systems or investigating new business models. Now it is all about making sense, staging experiences, and creating tangible human benefits. We must therefore TRANSCEND TECHNOLOGY so that we can focus on what really matters: human flourishing and (customer) happiness. We must invest as much in humanity as we invest in technology. Today’s unique opportunity is to re-humanize technology so that it serves a deeper purpose. 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 some of the global social media platforms who are now facing a jaw-dropping loss of trust, regulation and anti-trust legislation, put the HUMAN back into the centre of everything you do, and the future will be yours!
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?
AI has become a global buzz-phrase that hogs our attention everywhere – yet the very idea of AI is being frequently misinterpreted, misunderstood and misrepresented. Hopefully this presentation can clear up this confusion! From a non-academic perspective I explain the differences between what I call IA (intelligent assistance), AI and AGI (artificial general intelligence), and what each of them could mean for our near-future. I depict what is real and what’s not so real (yet), and where things are going in the next 5-7 years. Examples are usually drawn specifically from a client’s domain or industry. This talk also includes some elements from the Technology vs. Humanity talk, as outlined above, and often addresses the impact of AI on work, education and jobs, as well. Be sure to watch my popular 2018 film: we need to talk about AI. Visit my AI playlist on Youtube.
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.
I have spoken a lot about happiness in my talks since 2015, and it’s an important chapter in my book Technology vs Humanity. Trust isn’t digital. Machines don’t do relationships. Happiness is not a download, and it can’t be automated or digitized. Yes, technology is great at giving us more or less hedonic pleasures such as free phone calls, access to unlimited music, TV Shows & films, networking opportunities for business or shopping online. Yet 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 are said to 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 will 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 what I all the ANDRORITHMS such as empathy, compassion, and consciousness ? And what about 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.
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.
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’?
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.
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). I believe that in the near future we need to focus on human-only jobs and non-routine tasks that only humans can undertake, focusing on creativity, design, tacit pattern recognition, negotiation and other ‘soft skills’, on right-brain capabilities or on emotional context (EQ). However, unemployment is very likely to soar, regardless, as ever smarter and cheaper machines increasingly automate all routines. 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. The end of routine is not the end of human work *Be sure to watch my new film ‘How The Future Works’
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 www.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”
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? Watch this excerpt from a recent keynote on digital transformation, or this complete talk.
Beyond keynotes and presentations, Gerd also offers bespoke ‘futurizing’ advisory sessions, workshops, seminars, as well as executive board and CXO future-coaching. Gerd is also a film-maker and heads up all StoriesFromTheFuture.tv projects. He is 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.