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Richard Yonck    

Lead Futurist & Artificial Intelligence Consultant for Intelligent Future Consulting; Best-Selling Author

Richard Yonck is founder and lead futurist for Intelligent Future Consulting where he consults to businesses, speaks to audiences and writes about artificial intelligence and other emerging trends and technologies, with a focus on their impacts on business and society. Richard explores short to long-range futures with an eye to how this knowledge can help prepare for potential eventualities and to promote preferred futures.

Writing regularly about the future and emerging technologies, Richard’s work has appeared in numerous publications. He’s been interviewed and quoted about foresight issues in numerous mediums, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC News, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, SAP Digitalist, Singularity Hub, Next Avenue and numerous podcasts and radio programs. His paper, Toward a Standard Metric of Machine Intelligence explores the need for a standardized intelligence test for artificial intelligence and was published in the peer-reviewed World Future Review. His cover story, Connecting with Our Connected World explores the developing ‘Internet of Things’ and was included in The Futurist magazine’s list of Best Stories of the Year.

Richard’s perspective on the future is informed by over 25 years experience as a computer systems programmer-analyst, during which time he guided clients through the rapidly-shifting technological landscape. Formerly the Computing and Artificial Intelligence contributing editor for The Futurist Magazine, Richard is an executive board member of the Association of Professional Futurists, a member of the National Association of Science Writers and a TED speaker. His book HEART OF THE MACHINE: Our Future in a World of Artificial Emotional Intelligence explores the emerging technologies allowing computers and robots to read, interpret, replicate, even influence human emotions. Now required reading in several college courses, it was well reviewed by Time Magazine and Ray Kurzweil in The New York Times Book Review.

Speech Topics

The Coming Era of Emotional Machines

Author of the best-selling book about the future of artificial emotional intelligence, Richard’s deep understanding of the developing emotion economy has made him a global thought leader on this subject. With the recent development of artificial emotional intelligence – or emotion AI, this new branch of computer science is developing systems that can read, interpret, mimic and even influence our emotions.

Because emotion is such a core aspect of the human condition, these technologies are being, or will be used, in everything from education, health care, the military, social robotics, law enforcement, autism detection and therapies, political campaigns, advertising, marketing and much more. What will be the repercussions of such technology? How will it alter our society and personal relationships? Ultimately, what can – and can’t – we do to protect ourselves?

Automation, Employment and the Future of the Workforce

According to recent research, as much as 47% of all jobs will be eliminated by artificial intelligence and other forms of automation during the next two decades. While two-thirds of Americans believe robots will soon perform most of the work done by humans, fully 80% believe their jobs will not be among those affected.

At the same time, an enormous number of new jobs will come into existence that have never been heard of before. Augmented Reality Docent. Autonomous Vehicle Wranglers. Training Data Auditors. Genetic Findings Interpreter. Digital Reputation Scrubber. VR Addiction Rehabilitation Counselor. These are but a few of the new jobs that will need a human hand, at least for the immediate future.

As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it’s increasingly evident that we aren’t prepared for the changes that await us. What can we do in the face of such socially disruptive forces? How can we survive in a world that no longer needs people for many traditional tasks. If re-education is to be part of the solution, how can we prepare for future jobs that don’t even exist yet? And once a path is chosen, what guarantee do we have the new occupations will still be needed once we’ve completed our course of study?

Life in the Age of Human Augmentation

In recent years we’ve developed increasingly sophisticated ways of incorporating devices into our bodies: hearing aids, cochlear implants, artificial hearts, pacemakers, deep brain stimulators, artificial bones and joints, insulin pumps, and much more. But while these technologies have primarily been developed to replace lost function, we’re on the verge of using such devices to improve our natural abilities as well. Humanity is rapidly entering an era in which technology can not only repair and replace failed organs and lost functions, but actually augment and enhance them.

What can we expect in this new world of Human 2.0? Will it lead to indefinite life extension? Will a world already filled with economic disparity, give rise to physiological, or even mental, “haves” and “have-nots” as well? What dangers will we face when the very systems that allow our bodies to function are hackable? How do we protect our humanity in such a world?

Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies and the Future of the Block Chain

In 2008, a paper authored by an individual or a group, known only as Satoshi Nakamota laid out the basis for the first decentralized digital currency. In doing so, they also developed the first blockchain database ledger, thereby solving what is known in the world of digital currency as the “double-spending problem.”

Since then, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have taken the world by storm. However, the real game-changer was the invention of the block chain, a decentralized, cryptographic ledger that can be put to an untold number of uses. These include traditional trust and transaction instruments, such as loans, sales deeds of trust, and stock transactions, as well as new, digital era methods for automating trust for everything from livestock exchange and food quality protections in the developing world to ensuring adherence to trade embargos and arms reduction. What opportunities and risks can we anticipate from these innovative financial instruments?

Augmented Reality and the Future of Marketing

Imagine window shopping on the high street for clothes and accessories. As you pause to look at the merchandise, your view is overlaid with a range of information and offers, tantalizing you to come inside. You see yourself reflected in the window, wearing the latest fashions that grace the displays. How can you pass up the opportunity to enter the establishment and try it in IRL – in real life!

With major companies investing heavily, augmented reality is finally ready for widespread use. Its first killer app could very likely be in the retail space, transforming marketing, advertising and the shopping experience. How will we utilize this exciting technology, what should we be concerned about it and will it be more than just a passing fad?

Cyber Warfare and the Quest for the Super Soldier

Recently Russian leader, Vladimir Putin said of artificial general intelligence, “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” Though that may be true, it’s a safe bet the world’s military leaders are not putting all of their eggs in this one basket. In recent years, aggressions have stepped up on all sides as nations test new techniques of cyber warfare and feel out the vulnerabilities of their opposition. From the West’s Stuxnet malware attack on Iran’s nuclear program to Russia’s more recent infiltration of major U.S. power plants, this new form of warfare is heating up.

At the same time, dozens of research programs are developing ways to improve, enhance and harden their soldiers, whether mentally, physically or psychologically. From exoskeletons that bestow wearers super strength to brain stimulus that heightens attention and learning speed, systems are being developed that could one day lead to entire armies’ of super soldiers. How will the world respond in the face of such warriors? What will we do with them during periods of peace when we’re not at war?

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