The Good Future: A Perspective Via Gerd Leonhard

We must make the right decisions now, if we want a good future

Gerd Leonhard – The Good Future is entirely possible, and it’s our choice!

That quote from fellow Futurist Gerd Leonhard comes from a recent film he produced to convey optimism about our ability to create a good future. He opens with several statements that are core to my beliefs about our emerging future. He states that what we have done for the last one hundred years is no longer going to be suitable for the future. In other words what got us here won’t get us there. It was back in 2013 when I wrote about the structural change expected in the future. Much like my belief that structures and institutions will change, Gerd believes that the current system is unfit for the future, driving the need for a different logic. He mentions something that he has been saying for years: science fiction is becoming science fact. In exploring the possibilities of a good future, he starts with a question: what does good look like? He proposes a definition of good that includes relationships, experiences, the planet, purpose, and prosperity.

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Revisiting Digital Transformation

Many have drawn the conclusion that those organizations that invested in digital fared much better during the pandemic. When I think back to my early digital transformation content, the forcing functions that I felt would drive organizations to transform seemed clear. So why has the pandemic identified winners and losers? This question had me thinking about a discussion I had recently with colleague Hassan El Bouhali, where we reflected on the past several years in the context of what we expected and what actually happened. We specifically focused on a 2017 Video that Hassan, TCS CTO Ananth Krishnan, and I, did for an online course exploring the future. We decided to produce another video in the near term that reflects on our thoughts from four years ago. In the meantime, I started to revisit my older posts with reflection in mind, starting with my Thoughts on Automation from 2014, and then thinking about the digital discussion going on today.

In 2018, I explored what I felt was At the Heart of Digital Transformation. What strikes me from that post is how often I hear the word resilience today, and how infrequently I heard it back then. In 2015, I had a fascinating discussion with Futurist Gerd Leonhard that I captured in a post titled the Digital Transformation of Business and Society. To this day, that continues to be my most viewed post. It was a wide ranging conversation that covered topics like automation, society, digital governance, and technological unemployment. Gerd spoke of things like, instead of AI, we should refer to it as IA – or intelligent assistant. The key take away from that session was this:

The future is exponential, combinatorial, and interdependent: the sooner we can adjust our thinking (lateral) the better we will be at designing our future.

Digital Transformation of Business and Society
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Revisiting the Intersections That Shape Our Future

The building blocks of our future are numerous, and they are intersecting in ways that drive rapid shifts. I Visualized this phenomenon a while back, trying to depict the complexity of our world and the challenges it represents. It was Futurist Gerd Leonhard that gave me the idea. As someone who used my Anchor Visual in keynotes, he reflected on how impactful it might be to demonstrate the convergence that was occurring across the visual.

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Future-Back Thinking

I am a big believer in storytelling. Stories about the future and how it may unfold help us create a future that is both prosperous and sustainable. I have talked about stories in the context of Future Thinking and used a visual to tell these stories and provide a Future Thinking Canvas. A recent Article describes this approach as future-back thinking. The article explores the work of Mark W. Johnson and Josh Suskewicz, co-authors of Lead from the Future: How to Turn Visionary Thinking into Breakthrough Growth.

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Technology vs Humanity – The Future is already here

In a recently released video, Futurist Gerd Leonhard delivers his key messages in a powerful and passionate plea for balance between technology and humanity. This five minute video is a must see. Some of his key messages are:

Sector after sector, industry after industry, we are waking up to the fact that the future is already here. My note: after struggling to drive a level of urgency regarding the speed at which the future is approaching, leaders are now beginning to embrace a future-back mentality.

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Our Journey Forward: Thoughts from Futurists

I had the great fortune of working with three very accomplished futurists in the production of our upcoming course titled:  Reimagining the Future – A Journey through the Looking Glass. SAP’s Susan Galer interviewed these futurists in support of the course launch on May 23rd. The SAP Post provides a glimpse into the course, with thoughts from futurists and industry leaders. Here are several quotes from the post.

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Podcast with Gerd Leonhard

This morning I had the pleasure of discussing the future with Gerd Leonhard. Gerd was listed by Wired Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in Europe. His recent book on Technology vs Humanity begins the dialog on ethics in an exponential world.

Our theme was reimagining the future and the topics ranged from artificial intelligence to exponential progression. You can listen to the entire podcast below.

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Coffee Break with Game Changers: An Innovation Explosion

On November 30th, I had the pleasure of participating in another Game Changers show. I was joined by Futurist Gerd Leonhard and SAP Innovation executive Timo Elliott. The show was expertly moderated by Bonnie D. Graham, starting with her positioning of the topic: “Impossible is not a fact. It is an opinion” (Muhammad Ali). A unique clustering of inventions in the century after the U.S. Civil War improved the American and European standard of living – human well-being – more than any period before or after, with advances in everything from food and energy to health and work. Can our current innovation explosion have a similar impact despite unintended consequences? 

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Technology and Ethics

Some in the Futurist community are focused on technology and ethics. Gerd Leonhard has been particularly vocal on the topic. I’ve dedicated a section of my keynote to what I believe will be a growing dialog. I use this slide to pose a question to the audience:

Technology and Ethics

The example provided above comes from Ray Kurzweil, famous Futurist, Inventor and author. In an appearance at last years Exponential Finance conference, Kurzweil said this:

“Our thinking will be a hybrid of biological and non-biological thinking. We’re going to gradually merge and enhance ourselves. In my view, that’s the nature of being human – we transcend our limitations. We’ll be able to extend (our limitations) and think in the cloud. We’re going to put gateways to the cloud in our brains.”

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Technology versus Humans

Futurist Gerd Leonhard recently released a new short 3 minute film titled Technology versus Humans. Here is an excerpt from his Blog announcing the video:

“I am very excited to announce the release of my new short film “Technology versus Humanity”. This film marks the beginning of a new period for me, with much of my future work focusing on the topic of how exponential technological changes are changing what and who we are, as humans, where this is going in the next 15 years, and what we need to do, TODAY, to make sure that these changes will indeed be beneficial to us.

For this film, I was very fortunate to be able to team up with Story7 and Jean Francois Cardella as producer and director, and Jeremy Joly as DOP. They made this film very special – thanks!  We shot most of the footage in Cannes and the surrounding area – see some of the pics below.  If you like this movie, please share it and spread the word, or submit a comment below and let me know what you think.  Thanks!  New hashtag as of today:  #techversushuman

Gerd was kind enough to do an interview with me back in January. You can read that here. Enjoy the film