“People, Planet, Purpose and Prosperity.” That is Gerd Leonhard’s motto. And as one of the leading futurists worldwide, having presented at hundreds of leading conferences and events over the past 20 years and worked with the likes of Microsoft, NBC, Visa, Google, the European Commission, L’Oréal, Audi and IBM, just to name a few, Gerd Leonhard has had the opportunity to influence and inspire Millions to “imagine and create a better tomorrow” – which led to him being named to Wired UK’s 100 Most Influential Europeans in 2015.
As a leading voice on the dangers of unregulated ‘big tech’ and the bestselling author of Technology vs Humanity: The Coming Clash Between Man and Machine, Gerd Leonhard has built a storied reputation as the go-to keynote speaker and thought leader when it comes to digital ethics, human-centric technology, sustainability, and the need for a new form of capitalism.
In addition to being one of the top 10 virtual keynote presenters worldwide, Gerd Leonhard is also a former professional musician, a filmmaker, a former almost dotcom millionaire, a Forbes column contributor, a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (London), and a Visiting Professor at the Fundação Dom Cabral in Brazil.
As a highly sought after futurist, Gerd Leonhard is no stranger to media, frequently sharing his often controversial but always prescient views with pieces in The Guardian, Harvard Business Review, Business Insider, Wired UK, and interviews with the likes of BBC, CNN, Arirang TV, Swiss SRF, ZDF, ARD, ARTE, and inclusion as a special guest in over a dozen documentaries.
He is based in Zurich Switzerland.
Investors and the media is buzzing with excitement as businesses and individuals alike are starting to tap into Generative AI models like Dalle2, ChatGPT and many others. ChatGPT churns out unique texts that often have a disturbingly human-like quality.
Already being utilized in customer service, content production, paper-writing, coding and so on, it appears that generative AI is getting ready to transform the internet as we know it – with Google entering into ‘Red Alert’ mode and Microsoft investing 10 Billion US Dollars into OpenAI. But their impacts on society could be just as vast, in many good ways and in many quite worrisome ways. How can these tools – and AI in general – help us to achieve what Gerd calls ‘The Good Future‘?
Here’s what’s so exciting about ChatGPT: It’s a state-of-the-art language model that can generate human-like text. This makes it useful for a number of natural language processing tasks. Because it is based on OpenAI’s GPT architecture, it can also be fine-tuned to specific tasks and domains.
On the other hand, ChatGPT‘s potential to perpetuate bias has sparked concern as it is trained on ‘random’ internet texts that may include biased or deceptive information. This raises worries about its use in education, employment, law enforcement, and healthcare. ChatGPT can also to be used to generate deepfake texts, so it could be used to spread misinformation and disinformation, influencing public opinion and elections.
On top of the many challenges brought on by the pandemic and the Russia/Ukraine war, the urgency to address global warming and the mounting 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 for eating 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. Tensions abound.
What kind of future do we want? Is our current economic logic even suitable for the future? Will ‘free and open markets’ deliver solutions for these complex global issues?
‘Green New Deals‘ are blossoming everywhere. New funding is flowing into climate change adaptation and mitigation, with potentially 10s of Millions of new jobs in sustainability-focused sectors in the near future.
The 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. Visit my new Good Future Hub for constant updates.
On the one hand, the Metaverse could be ‘the Internet we’ve always wanted’: Immersive, real-time/feel, 3D… and that could be great for business, commerce, retail and of course technology companies:) On the other hand, it could end up to be more of a MetaPERverse, replacing human relationships and experiences with deep surveillance and a bizarrely monetized simulations, reducing complex human life to data feeds, fancy graphics and AI-fuelled convenience: Consensual hallucinations sold as ‘human empowerment’? Imagine social media’s aberrations and abuse – but x 1000!
In this talk, I outline both the ‘heavenly’ possibilities of the Metaverse as well as the more troubling aspects while depicting possible ways forward, based on my motto of ‘embracing technology but not becoming it‘.
Accelerated by the ‘new normals’ of the Covid19 crisis, we are going warp-drive into a future characterised by what Gerd calls the DDR: Digitization, Decarbonisation and Reformation (a new economic logic ‘beyond GDP’, and new focus on purpose & humanity, and new role of policy-makers and government). This has huge impact on consumers, on all aspects of retail and digital commerce, and of course on brands, themselves. As Gerd likes to say, the future belongs to those that can hear it coming (quoting David Bowie). This requires a new focus on developing a ‘future mindset‘, questioning one’s assumptions and the ability to respond to the framework changes (not just individual pictures). Because: the future is no longer about ‘tomorrow‘ – the future is already here; we are just not paying enough attention yet!
By 2030, we will have approx. 9 Billion people connected at high speed and very low cost, virtual/augmented reality will be as normal as WhatsApp or Signal, today; voice control will be how we interact with our devices, and generally a rapid convergence of online / virtual and real-life / physical worlds and the resulting Megashifts will revolutionise pretty much everything we do, from working to traveling to shopping to healthcare to banking. The power of exponential technologies will become almost limitless which is why brands and retailers must now place a strong focus on staying human, and on ethics and values – in a way, purpose will become the new product (and green is the new digital). The future is better than we think – we just need to understand it better, and decide what kind of future we want rather than simply do what is possible!
Why and how the decarbonisation of our economy is the biggest opportunity in this coming decade. ‘Digital transformation’ is just business-as usual-by now. Around the globe, pretty much every organisation that intends to thrive in the next decade is hard at work on digitization, automation, virtualisation etc – what Gerd calls The Megashifts.
The next really big topic has been on the agenda for decades but apparently had to first be kick-started by the Corona Crisis: The Decarbonisation of our economies and the ‘gradually, then suddenly‘ departure from the fossil-fuel era.
Get ready: wide-ranging new carbon taxes are inevitable (airlines, meat etc) and fossil fuel subsidies will be turned into ‘nature positive’ investments. During the Covid crisis we have learned that being prepared for emergencies is utterly essential – and that yes we can indeed compromise and collaborate if we have to. Covid19 is a test-run for climate change.
How Organizations Can Make the Most of Disruption. While a rising tide lifts all boats, one-sided or blind disruption can capsize any organization. To create enduring, dynamic organizations built to last in today’s era of accelerating exponential technology, the most important thing is foresight and preparedness.
Unlike any other point in history, companies and organizations – and their people – find themselves forced to pivot and dramatically reinvent themselves, or face sudden disintermediation and irrelevance. From music to the automotive industry, big oil to big box retail, and everything in between, the pace of change is increasing and only poised to accelerate further as the 11 Megashifts (which include digitisation, automation, datafication, virtualisation, robotisation, and others) sweep across the industry and society, altering every aspect of daily life.
While organizations unprepared for the waves of change to come will not survive, those that ready themselves can take advantage of the enormous opportunities created amidst the chaos, from IoT and artificial intelligence to robotics and new human-machine interfaces (such as voice-control and intelligent bots).
The Future of Business, Commerce and Society, Work, Jobs and Education: Humanity will change more in the next 10 years than the previous 100 years. 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, Gerd believes it actually is our humanity that needs the most attention, and that it will be our humanness which will make all the difference. The recent hype about The Metaverse is a case in point: it gives us everything we’ve ever dreamed of, but nothing we really need!
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, Gerd outlines 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.
10 Reasons to be Optimistic and 5 Actionable Strategies to Make it So. For decades, Hollywood has flooded the public with visions of dystopian futures. It is no wonder that many people fear AI and robots. Add the never-ending Covid-19 crisis, (de)globalisation, automation and geopolitical uncertainties to the mix, and the result is a widespread belief that the future is mostly bleak.
Yet the fact is that our world is not irrevocably destined to become a dehumanized hellscape ruled by AI, or some other Black-Mirror-like nightmare, and our future certainly isn’t fixed – we create it with our (in)actions, every day. And if you look at the correct data, you’ll find things often are actually better than ever before.
The world is, in fact, improving at a rapid rate. Sure, the world’s progress in the past 30 years is not all just peachy and amazing – especially when seeing it in context with the current corona crisis. Yet we are well on the way of reducing extreme poverty and hunger, and chiselling away at many of the other woes that have plagued humanity since the dawn of time, including diseases, crime and war. Indeed, we have a lot of reasons to be optimistic about our progress. In the next decade, Gerd thinks we will have most of the tools (i.e. science and technology) we need – so now we must acquire the telos (will, purpose and wisdom).
So what can you do, as an individual, an enterprise or an organisation, to make sure your future will indeed be bright? How will you develop a Future-Ready-Mindset? How will you turn these challenges/opportunities into positive action? If we are (or become) what we believe we can be, how do we change our beliefs and mindsets?
While there is no such thing as “knowing the future,” nothing is more important to the long-term success of your organization than the future-readiness and foresight of your employees, upper management, and C-suite. Every captain needs a compass, especially in these uncertain times of technological and social upheaval where only the organizations with an eye to the future can react quickly enough to not only survive, but thrive.
There is a reason the half-life of great organizations is getting shorter and shorter. Technological disruption and competition have killed many once-great companies. And today, amidst the upcoming megashifts poised to transform the world as we know it, only agile, resilient organizations with future-ready teams and leaders will have the fortitude and foresight to capitalize on these unprecedented economic opportunities.
The question is: are your people and processes ready?
Our future could be hell or it could be heaven – it’s our choice! Science fiction is increasingly becoming science fact. Consider the dramatic technological advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, human genome manipulation, autonomous vehicles, and quantum computing. In 10 years, the power of technology will become almost limitless!
For these reasons, the ethical and humane use of technology can no longer be an afterthought, but is instead an existential challenge. If we define ethics as “knowing the difference between having the power to do something, and doing the right thing”, who do we want making these critical decisions? Should it be for algorithms and profit incentives alone to determine our fate? Who will be “mission control for humanity”?
As renowned Apple CEO Tim Cook once said, “Technology can do great things, but it does not want to do great things…” And the same is true of the organization and the economy as a whole. In a world where technology will increasingly define every aspect of life, who do we want at the helm? 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”?
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“Working with Gerd was an excellent experience, and he definitely pushed our executives’ thinking forward. Not only did he outline major technological and societal trends affecting our business, he did so in a way that was engaging and personal.”
Adam Carroll, Inter Public Group
“Gerd Leonhard distinguishes from other futurists trough his emphaisis on the human factor in the story between man and machine. While some focus on predicting what technology will bring soon, he actively searches a positive story for humanity and he clearly sets limits on technology.”
Kristoff Vandermeersch, HR Expo
“Eye-opening, thought-provoking, brilliant... Gerd’s visionary speech challenges the very core of our beliefs, he can link seemingly unrelated trends and deliver a presentation in engaging and entertaining fashion.”
Dana Kršaková, Michal Ivantyšyn, ITAPA
“Gerd allows the audience to travel to and from the future. The result remains long after the conference, when you rewind his presentations after a few years, and see it happening in front of your eyes. I had the pleasure to hire Gerd when I was at Pestana Hotel Group, and this specific event reached the highest score ever in 4 decades. Gerd is a pleasure to work with, and I highly recommend his services.”
Nuno Ferreira Pires, SPORT.TV
“Your presentation was a huge success. You managed to scare delegates to death and give them hope at the same time – quite a feat and exactly what they needed! Thank you also for crafting your ideas so that it tied very directly into our business, rather than being just a rehash of a standard presentation.”
Clive Viegas Bennett, MGI Worldwide
“Gerd really made a big difference to our event because when he speaks about the future changes, technology, behaviors, he worries about connecting all of these changes with the audience reality, showing that it is possible to succeed, as humans, in this new world. He connects to the audience in a way that we feel that there is space for both humans and technology to live together.”
Patricia Bastos, Tetra Pak
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