Gerd Leonhard


FUTURIST STRATEGIST & CEO, THE FUTURES AGENCY. One of the leading media futurists in the World’ by The Wall Street Journal.

Gerd Leonhard speaker, keynote speech, futurist, technology

Gerd Leonhard focusses on near-future, ‘nowist’ observations and actionable foresights in the sectors of humanity, society, business and commerce, media, technology and communications.

English · French

Over the past two decades, Gerd Leonhard has risen to one of the top 10 futurist keynote speakers worldwide, and has recently become the #1 virtual speaker in the age of Corona. With nearly 2,000 engagements in 60+ countries since 2004, and a combined audience of over 2.5 million people, Gerd has been listed by Wired magazine as one of the Top 100 Most-Influential People in Europe, and as ‘one of the leading media futurists in the World’ by The Wall Street Journal.


Gerd Leonhard focuses on the intersections of humanity, science / technology, business, and culture. He promotes sustainable, human-centric values, and emphasizes the importance of foresight, future-ready leadership, and resilience in the face of uncertainty.


He is also known for speaking out against the pitfalls of unbridled extractionist capitalism. His acclaimed keynotes (both live and virtual) are renowned for their hard-hitting and provocative style – inspiring, humorous, motivational, and always personal. Using cutting-edge creative motion design and immersive backdrops, Gerd’s performances (both in-person and for online events) have reinvented the very definition of ‘presentation.’


Gerd is highly regarded as a global influencer and has advised business leaders and government officials around the globe.


His diverse list of clients include countless governments, NGOs and Fortune 500 companies such as SAP, Microsoft, Google, VISA, Accenture, Deloitte, Motorola, KPMG, Sony, UBS, Tetrapak, Mastercard, BBC, Unilever, Lloyds Bank, WWF, Sony, The Guardian, PwC, Siemens, RTL,The Financial Times, Ogilvy, Omnicom, The EU Commission, Audi and many others. A true thought leader in the futurist space, Gerd is above all a dedicated humanist who believes that all technological progress should further collective human flourishing.

Gerd uses his keynotes, presentations, workshops and advisory sessions to deep-dive on complex topics. Recurring themes include business in the post-Covid-19 world, the need for a sustainable, equitable reform to conventional capitalism, addressing existential risks like climate change and uncontrolled technological proliferation, the future of work and of the human-machine relationship, exploring what it means to be human in a world of machines and algorithms, and the ethics of technology and tech regulation in an interconnected world.

Most recently, Gerd Leonhard defends that 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.

As Gerd likes to say, humanity will change more in the next 10 years than in the previous 100 years – so let’s embrace technology but also maintain, protect and nurture what makes us human!


Gerd Leonhard defends that 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.


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 he think it also creates a very unique opportunity for what he calls ‘The Great Transformation‘.

This keynote (usually held remotely) addresses topics such as:

■ What have we learned from this crisis?
■ The economic and business impact: the future of jobs, work, commerce and trade
■ The geopolitical impact: Europe, the U.S. and China – new power structures? De-Globalisation?
■ The future of capitalism: stakeholder value over shareholder value: finally, a sustainable capitalism?
■ The environmental impact: how will this crisis impact climate-change action? How real is the ‘end of oil‘?
■ The impact on medical & healthcare: entering warp-drive
■ The societal impact: is technological domination and permanent surveillance next?
■ The personal impact: fears and hopes, solidarity vs. opportunism, resilience vs desperation
■ The impact on investing: where will the money go?
■ The impact on education, learning and universities (and leadership)


Why and how the decarbonisation of our economy is the biggest opportunity in this coming decade ‘Digital transformation’ is business as usual by now – the hype has settled, and around the globe every organisation that wants to thrive is quite hard at work on digitization, automation, virtualisation and generally
dealing with what he calls The Megashifts.

The next big topic has been on the agenda for decades but had to first be kickstarted by the Corona crisis: The Decarbonisation of our economies and the ‘gradually, then suddenly‘ departure from the fossil-fuel era. Wide-ranging new carbon taxes are inevitable – during the Covid crisis we have learned that being prepared for emergencies is utterly essential – and that we can compromise if we have to. Covid19 is essentially a test-run for climate change.

Gerd Leonhard believes that the circular economy is the only economy we’ll have, by 2030, and that ‘sustainable’ is becoming the new ‘profitable’ in the next 5 years (on that note, have a good look at the stakeholder economy debates). Any company that does not understand how the global move towards decarbonisation will impact every segment of their business – from R&D to supply-chain to production to distribution to marketing to branding –
will wither and shrink or die, and any individual that does not understand what it means as far as knowledge, skills and foresight is concerned, will quickly become dispensable.

In this talk, he explains why this tectonic shift is happening now, what it really means, and how to get behind it and prosper in this fork-in-the-road decade that’s coming up.


Why and how “People-Planet-Purpose and Prosperity” is the key to our Future 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 he calls 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 Future of Work, Jobs, and Education.

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, he believes 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 he calls, in my last book, the androrithms)? In this talk, he 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.


Our future could be hell or it could be heaven – it’s our choice!

Science fiction is increasingly becoming science fact. Witness the dramatic technological advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, human genome manipulation, autonomous vehicles, and quantum computing. In 10 years, technology will be 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”?


Addressing Humanity’s Four Existential Challenges.

Humanity has entered a critical moment in its history. We’re at a pivot point. The coming decade is a time of mind-boggling exponential change and great significance, because the decisions we make in the next 10 years will determine whether our future is bright, happy and prosperous, or whether it leads to misery or perhaps even our eventual demise as a species.

And while many different forces are impacting our future, I propose that there are four overarching challenges that dwarf all others:

1. Dealing with the increasingly existential Climate Crisis
2. Designing a new economic and geopolitical framework, based on “People, Planet, Purpose & Prosperity”
3. Managing and governing exponential scientific and technological progress
4. Understanding and regulating human Enhancement, longevity, and human genome editing

The good news is that while our challenges are urgent, we are not yet too late. In fact, I often say that the future is better than we think- but we must make the right decisions, here and now and in this coming decade. What kind of world do we want to leave our children and our succeeding generations?.

“You can always count on humans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else”


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, I think 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?


How to Build a Resilient, Agile, Creative Organizations.

We have reached peak ‘digital transformation’ – if you haven’t yet heard about why your business needs to ‘transform into a digital organisation,’ you just may have lived under a rock during the past 5 years:) But now we are entering an era where it is no longer just about upgrading your IT-systems or new business models.

Now it is about creating experiences and tangible human benefits. We must transcend technology to focus on what really matters: human flourishing and (customer) happiness. We must invest as much in humanity as we invest in technology. Today’s opportunity is to re-humanize technology so it serves a deeper purpose.

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!


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).

Technology vs. Humanity: The coming clash between man and machine.

Futurist Gerd Leonhard breaks new ground again by bringing together mankind’s urge to upgrade and automate everything—down to human biology itself—with our timeless quest for freedom and happiness. Before it’s too late, we must stop and ask the big questions: How do we embrace technology without becoming it? When it happens—gradually, then suddenly—the machine era will create the greatest watershed in human life on Earth.

Technology vs. Humanity is one of the last moral maps we’ll get as humanity enters the Jurassic Park of Big Tech. Artificial intelligence. Cognitive computing. The Singularity. Digital obesity. Printed food. The Internet of Things. The death of privacy. The end of work-as-we-know-it, and radical longevity: The imminent clash between technology and humanity is already rushing towards us. What moral values are you prepared to stand up for—before being human alters its meaning forever? Gerd Leonhard is a new kind of futurist schooled in the humanities as much as in technology.

In his most provocative book to date, he explores the exponential changes swamping our societies, providing rich insights and deep wisdom for business leaders, professionals and anyone with decisions to make in this new era. If you take being human for granted, press Reset now with this passionately argued call to create a genuinely braver new world.

Technology vs. Humanity: The coming clash between man and machine.

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Gerd Leonhard