Gerd Leonhard Speaker, Speeches, Booking Agent | MFL Global
Gerd Leonhard 6

Gerd Leonhard

Futurist and Author

Gerd Leonhard is not just a leading expert on the future, he is also a humanist who believes that all scientific and technological progress should further collective human flourishing. People, Planet, Purpose and Prosperity is Gerd’s credo. As Gerd likes to say, humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in the previous 300 years – let’s make sure that we can still maintain what makes us human.

The second decade of the twenty-first century may not quite be the world of George Orwell, yet, but living in these times is certainly puzzling. Futurism used to be the study of the future, but nowadays it seems hard enough to read the present.

Gerd Leonhard has spent his lifetime engaging with change, as a professional artist, internet entrepreneur, author and now as a visionary thinker and speaker.

Gerd Leonard’s background is in music and the music business; in 1985 he won Berklee College’s ‘Quincy Jones Award’ and subsequently spent 10 years working as a professional guitar player, composer and producer.

He then caught the Internet bug and became a digital media entrepreneur and start-up Internet CEO, based in San Francisco, for 7 years. In 2002, Gerd returned to Europe and started his career as a Futurist, Keynote Speaker and Strategic Advisor. He now travels around the globe and speaks at major conferences and events on the Future of Business, Sustainability, Environmental Policy and Climate Change, Media, Content and Entertainment, Technology, Marketing, Advertising & Branding and Telecommunications.

A musician by origin, Gerd connects left and right brains for a 360-degree coverage of the multiple futures that present themselves at any one time. Delivering the ‘Realopia’ that one can work on immediately, Gerd Leonhard coaches consults and influences around the world. Turning futurism into a pragmatic science designed to reinforce strategic thinking, Gerd and his boutique The Futures Agency represent an additional mind for mastering the complex nodal points of change that dictate evolution or extinction in the Digital Age. ‘Technology vs. Humanity’, his newest work, reminds every one of us what is at stake as we enter a Faustian pact with the computing entities now serving us.

He is well-known as the co-author of the influential book ‘The Future of Music’ and as the author of ‘Technology vs Humanity, ‘The End of Control’, ‘Music 2.0’, ‘Friction is Fiction’, and ‘The Future of Content’.

Gerd is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (London), a member of the World Future Society, and a visiting professor at the Fundação Dom Cabral in Brazil. A native German, he now resides in Basel, Switzerland.

Gerd Leonard’s keynotes, speeches and presentations are renowned for his hard-hitting and provocative yet inspiring personal and intense motivational style.

To watch a short film about AI with Gerd click here

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Topics

A new Renaissance

What if the best human era were yet to come? What if instead of even more ‘digital transformation’ – invariably
bringing the replacement of us humans with algorithms and bots – we were to pursue a new HUMAN RENAISSANCE?
Imagine a rebirth of humanness in the face of the deepest socio-economic disruption in human history fuelled by what I have started to call the 9 game changers such as Big Data and the Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and Quantum Computing. The last decade has witnessed a massive global technology explosion. At the same time, we have also seen the rise of fake news and algorithmic manipulation by so-called ‘social media’, with detrimental side-effects (externalities) on democracy and civic life, in general (not to mention the steep rise of inequality in many countries such as the USA). In the current global zeitgeist ruled by fears of job automation, climate change and unprecedented geopolitical uncertainty, I think it’s time to review how exactly technology has come to dominate our lives – and to rethink what it means to be (and remain) human, and what we WANT to be rather than what we CAN be.

Why and how SUSTAINABLE will be the new PROFITABLE

First, we must face 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. Second, the much debated shift to shareholder- (rather than 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 (profit) to what I call the quadruple bottom-line: people, planet, purpose and prosperity. Sustainable capitalism may be within reach in the next decade! Thirdly, 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 key topic with every fund and every family office, around the globe.

Happiness in the Digital Age

Trust isn’t digital. Machines don’t do relationships. Happiness is not a download, and it can’t be automated or digitised. Technology is great at giving us more or less hedonic pleasures such as free phone calls, access to unlimited music, TV Shows & films etc. But yet, overall unhappiness is rising around the world. Is technology, done wrong, ‘bicycles for the mind but bullets for the soul’?

The Future of Work

The automation of everything, the rise of smart machines and AI: what is the future work, jobs / employment… and education?

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,

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

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.

From Transformation to Humanisation

Culture still 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:)

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!

See More

Gerd was this year’s opening speaker at InnoTown – Next Technologies. From the first contact Gerd was a pleasure to work with, and his talk was an absolute thrill, with his high energy presentation style and great visuals. He received top-notch ratings from the InnoTown-crowd

InnoTown

We’ve hired Gerd a number of times over the years to keynote our events. Gerd is super professional, collaborative, efficient, absolute pleasure to work with. Perhaps more importantly he is also an inspirational speaker who not only gets tech/marketing but also the bigger picture around society, behaviour and business. And he used to be a professional guitarist – what more could you want?

Ably

Gerd came in remotely and lit up our Huawei Cloud Conference, everyone was talking about his thought provoking insights throughout the rest of the day!

Huawei

“Gerd provided amazing collaboration and partnership during our recent futurist-focused client event in Southern, California….our client was thrilled and the attendees took away a great wealth of information that will surely help them increase revenues and surpass their competitors using the technology-focused information provided during his presentation.”

IfOnly

Publications

Gerd Leonhard 6

Technology vs. Humanity

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Gerd Leonhard 6

The Future of Music

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Gerd Leonhard 6

Music 2.0

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Gerd Leonhard 6

Friction is Fiction

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Gerd Leonhard 6

The Future of Content

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Fees & Details

Fees From*

  • UK:

    £15k to £30k

  • Europe:

    £15k to £30k

  • US:

    £15k to £30k

  • Africa/Asia/ME:

    £15k to £30k

Travels From

  • Switzerland

Languages

English, German

* This Speaker's fee falls within the ranges shown above. Ranges are presented as a guideline only. Speaker fees are subject to change without notice. For an exact quote, please contact us.

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