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Gerd Leonhard    

Futurist, Speaker and CEO at The Futures Agency

Gerd Leonhard is a widely-known and top-rated futurist, with over 1500 engagements in 50+ countries since 2004 and a combined audience of over 1 million people. Gerd focusses on near-future, ‘nowist’ observations and actionable foresights in the sectors of humanity, society, business and commerce, media, technology and communications.

Gerd is also an influential author, a sought-after executive ‘future trainer’ and a trusted strategic advisor. He is the co-author of the best-selling book The Future of Music and the author of 5 other books including ‘The Humanity Challenge’ (June 2016). Gerd is also the host of the web-TV series TheFutureShow and the CEO of TheFuturesAgency, a global network of over 30 leading futurists.

Gerd is considered a leading voice on a wide range of topics including digital transformation and the opportunity-challenges of the coming exponential society, a sustainable business and cultural ecology, social media and communications, TV / film, radio and broadcasting futures, mobile content and commerce, innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship, ‘hard-future’ consumer trends, human-machine futures and AI, cognitive computing, the IoT, big data and automation, next-generation advertising, marketing and branding, as well as sustainability and related ‘green future’ topics. In 2006, The Wall Street Journal called Gerd ‘one of the leading Media Futurists in the World’. In 2015, Wired Magazine listed Gerd as #88 of the top 100 influencers in Europe. He’s #21 on the global list of futurists.

Gerd's keynotes, speeches and presentations are renowned for their hard-hitting and provocative yet inspiring, often humorous and always personal motivational style. Gerd is highly regarded as a global influencer and has advised many business leaders and government officials around the globe. His diverse client list of over 300 companies includes UBS, Mastercard, Unilever, Lloyds Bank, WWF, Nokia, The Guardian, Google, Sony, Telkom Indonesia, Siemens, RTL, ITV, BBC, France Telecom, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, MTN, The Financial Times, DDB, Ogilvy, Omnicom, IPG, The EU Commission, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, VISA, and many others.

Gerd's background is in the music business; in 1985 he won Berklee College’s 'Quincy Jones Award' and subsequently spent 12 years working as a professional guitarist, composer and producer. He then caught the Internet-bug and became a digital music & media entrepreneur, serving as Founder/CEO of several Internet startups, based in San Francisco. In 2002, following the .com meltdown and the 9/11 crisis, Gerd returned to Europe and discovered his new calling as a futurist.

He now travels around the globe to speak at leading conferences and events, company retreats, seminars and in-house trainings, and offering his unique ‘FutureExperience’ trainings along with his colleagues at The Futures Agency, an international organization that Gerd founded in 2010 to meet client demand for tried-and-tested future-trainers, speakers and personalities. Gerd is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (London) and a member of the World Future Society. A native German, Gerd resides in Basel, Switzerland, and maintains an office in San Francisco. He presents both in English as well as in German.

Speech Topics

Human Futures

1) Human-machine relationships: what the future may bring Humans and ultra-smart technology i.e. ‘intelligent machines’ are increasingly interconnecting and overlapping. The Internet of Things aka the internet of everything is here, and artificial intelligence and the singularity are becoming global buzzwords. AI is certain to play a role everywhere, and robots are dropping in price dramatically while gaining quickly in functionality and skills. Exponential technological progress is evident everywhere – but how will we – as linear beings – cope with this increasing empowerment of software and machines, the tremendous gain in the flow of real-time information, and the far-reaching implications that these developments will have? What will happen to our ethics in a world of ultra-smart intelligent agents, artificial intelligence and the coming ‘trans-humanism’?

2) Man & machine: HellVen challenges Exponentiell technologies are impacting our lives at an increasingly faster pace. Intelligent digital agents, smart software, big data and artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, robotics and neuromorphic chips are likely to become as normal as smartphones. Where is this going? What will mean to be human in the near future? What will happen to work and jobs, to mysteries and serendipity, to our social contracts and to how we do business? The immediate future is certain to bring a rapid convergence of man and machine, in every aspect of our society. We can expect a lot more HellVen (Hell+Heaven) challenges and opportunities since this could be a kind of nirvana for us, or it could just as easily spell disaster – depending on how we prepare and act, today. Technology does not have ethics and machines are immoral by design – yet humanity without ethics is an oxymoron. On the one hand, we are looking at the distinct possibility of solving global problems such as such as climate change, energy, water and food shortages, or poverty, based on vastly exponential scientific progress; and at the same time we are looking at the potential threat of humans becoming machines as one of many unintended consequences. Who will be in charge of whether this becomes heaven or hell, and what do we need to do today to address this challenge, today?

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