Videos of Gerd Leonhard

2017 talks and presentations
At Mercedes Benz Vans Innovation Campus

Speaker Profile

About Gerd Leonhard

Background / History

His background is in the music business. He spent 10 years working as a professional guitar player, composer and producer before becoming a digital media entrepreneur, serving as CEO with several Internet startups in San Francisco.

Gerd was one of the first to argue that the internet needs protecting from government assaults on freedom and privacy: a call echoed in the demand from Sir Tim Berners Lee for a bill of internet rights.


Gerd is currently working on topics that include; the future of humans relationships with ultra smart technology, disruptive technological change and what it will mean for the professions.  His clients include Youtube, Nokia, The Guardian, Google, Sony-BMG, Siemens, the BBC, France Telecom, Orange and The Financial Times.

Founder and CEO of the Futures Agency which offers workshops, seminars and keynotes, he is also a prolific writer and was the man behind GreenFuturists which promotes sustainable futures. He is visiting Professor at the Fundao Dom Cabral in Brazil. He is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (London) and a member of the World Future Society.

Current / Past Roles & Positions

  • CEO The Futures Agency
  • One of the 1st to argue that the freedom and privacy of the internet needs protecting
  • Exhorts companies to learn from what happened to the music industry
  • Argues for a perpetual strategy of change

Awards, Accolades, Achievements & Honours

  • Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (London)
  • Member of the World Future Society


Gerd speaks English and German.

Speaking Style

Educational, Interactive and Thought-provoking

The content of his talks is both challenging and controversial while his style is thoroughly inspiring and motivational.

Gerd Leonhard's most important message is that the future is happening and it is happening fast. According to Gerd, within the next few years, the Internet will become as ubiquitous as water, cloud computing the norm and the Internet of Things will connect billions of smart devices. The amount of data being generated will explode by 1000 times and human-computer interfaces will be controlled by our minds.

As a speaker and consultant Gerd Leonhard will show you how to imagine your companys future by applying the logic of tomorrow not today in order to stay relevant and how to make the most of opportunities provided by these changes.

His ideas developed from observing the music and movie industries at a time when disruptive technologies took revenue streams out of their hands.

Speaking Topics


In this groundbreaking new talk based on his new book, Gerd addresses the “future shocks” that lie in wait for humanity as it tumbles into a world of Big Data / Tech / AI dominance. This impactful presentation at the intersection of technology and ethics will engage your audience way beyond their daily concerns, and challenge the very core of being human – our shared values, believes and desire for happiness. This talk is an always-evolving continuation of Gerd’s best-selling new book, and explores the coming clash of machine and mankind in detail – one that will make all other ‘industrial revolutions’ seem like kindergarten. This is a classic keynote engagement for public events, large audiences spanning all corporate divisions and borders, as well as for executive client conferences.


Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a global buzzword, and investments in AI, machine/deep learning and many related fields are exploding. The excitement is clearly infectious yet many leading scientists and technologists have voiced grave concerns about controlling AI, or rather, AGI (artificial general intelligence), and an AI-arms-race between the U.S. and China seems almost inevitable. At the same time, the benefit of intelligent assistance (IA) and so-called narrow AI holds huge promise for all sectors of business and industry, such as in financial services and banking, healthcare and medical, logistics, smart cities and the Internet of Things, in general. In this talk, Gerd outlines his 7-year view of the opportunities and challenges of AI, with a particular focus on what the implications for our society and culture as well as for humanity overall might be. Technology is morally neutral until we apply it – and we apply it everywhere, now!


In an era when machines are not only taking our jobs but are starting to run our lives, as well, how will we respond to the unprecedented economic, societal and ethical questions that this human-machine symbiosis will raise? Exponential technological change is impacting our lives at every turn, and intelligent digital agents (IDAs) and bots are about to become as normal as smartphones. What will it mean to be human in the near future? What will happen to work and jobs, to our social contracts and ethics, and to the way we do business? HellVen (Hell+Heaven) challenges and opportunities will abound: this could be heaven based on total abundance that may create a kind of ‘Startrek-Economy’, or it could just as easily be a dystopian hell – depending on how we prepare and lead with foresight, today. What do we need to do to make sure our future is mostly heaven, collectively? What are the political consequences, and what about regulation, treaties and agreements?


Recent research suggests that the power-users of social networks count among the loneliest people in the world, and that interacting too much with screens and devices as opposed to actual people may have severe toxic side-effects on human relationships. Increasingly, technological advances such as the smartphone and augmented / virtual reality and intelligent digital assistants first feel like ‘magic’, but after the initial excitement some of us experience a rather ‘manic’ obsession with them, and subsequently, the toxic effects of overuse such as attention deficit disorder or social isolation are not far off. A new wave of addiction to hyper-connectivity ‘likes’ and overall FOMO (fear of missing out) is already on the horizon – we can only speculate where an exponential growth of these issues may leave us within a decade (Black Mirror, anyone?). Do we need to remind ourselves and relearn how to be ‘merely human’, to be unaltered and un-augmented, to sense with our own eyes and ears, to be in the moment and to listen to ourselves and others instead of ‘forgetting ourselves’ among those magical devices and intelligent algorithms? This talk will point the way towards finding a good balance.


Successful businesses always maintain a constant conversation about the future: what lessons need to be operationalized today in order to avoid future irrelevance or worse, extinction ? It is essential to understand that everything that can be digitized, automated or virtualised, will be. Cognification, automation, disintermediation and robotization are now taking place across all industries, not just in media, content and marketing. Digital transformation – going from an analog or semi-digital world to a digitally-native world – is certain to be the #1 challenge-opportunity in the next 5-7 years. How can people and companies become better at understanding, and move faster to implement the transformations that are required? How will a company or an organization prosper in a world that is quickly becoming inter-connected and interdependent? What skills and mindsets will we need, and what should remain human even if it is inefficient?


The leading global technology brands and digital platforms are growing faster than ever before, while many incumbent enterprises and brands are forced to ‘pivot’ and dramatically reinvent themselves, or face sudden disintermediation and irrelevance – the car industry makes for the best possible example for this challenge, right now:) In this session, Gerd looks at how to go beyond this Darwinian phase of ‘Cybermorphosis’ and evolve into a future-ready organization (using a process that Gerd likes to call ‘futurizing‘). Exponential technological progress is fuelling a multitude of combinatorial developments such as The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, deep learning and robotics, the re-definition of privacy and security, new human-machine interfaces (such as voice-control and intelligent bots), the total reboot of marketing and advertising and the rise of smart-cloud-everything-everywhere (i.e. content, money, education, health, transportation etc). Plus, in in this coming decade we may also need to examine the future meaning of ‘capitalism’ based on interdependence and eco-systematic thinking rather than on traditional profit & growth paradigms. In this riveting talk, Gerd depicts the key trends and reveals the likely minefields and identifies the key opportunities, dishing up a mixture of future-shock and awesomeness to stimulate some serious thinking. Watch this keynote excerpt on The Megashifts.


In this dynamic talk, Gerd delivers the immersion and the excitement that is often necessary to truly futurize your business or organisation, and to challenge and change established mindsets, toxic assumptions or satisfied attitudes. Understanding that the ‘digital default’ is becoming the new normal is often crucial to the process of constructing a new future. Angling for quick disruptions is no longer sufficient: everything and everyone is getting connected, everywhere and at all times; mobile devices have already become our external brains while bots and intelligent assistants are next – connected devices are now truly becoming the ‘the extension of man’. This coming hyper-networked society will not just change the very definition of ownership, property and control, but business models in general will become increasingly transient rather than permanent and predictable. How can you get ready for this kind of VUCA future, personally and professionally? How will you move beyond disruption towards constructing a truly sustainable future? Watch this keynote excerpt on how to become future-ready.


The future is already here but often we just haven’t paid enough attention to it – and given that today, the future is no longer just an extension of the present, not listening to the near future (5-7 years) could well be detrimental. The challenge is that future is now simultaneously exponential, combinatorial and interdependent, and ‘tomorrow’ is happening increasingly faster – what used to take 10 years is now often happening in 3 years, and big companies used to last 75 years in average, while now it’s 16 years. It is therefore vitally important to boost your future-readiness, to ‘futurize’ yourself as well as your company and organisation. The future is a mindset not a timeframe. In this talk, Gerd shares his approach to observing, understanding and imagining the future, both on a personal as well as on a organisational level. The future belongs to those that can hear it coming!


Enterprise leadership has until now been largely based on military examples – hence the chief “officers” of various kinds. But because of exponential technological developments, leadership is changing in radical ways, as well. How can you grasp the changing nature of your role above and beyond shareholder value? What human skills will you need to evolve alongside the strategic, financial or technological and engineering ones you may have already mastered? And how can you leave backward-looking, or ‘toxic-assumption’ – decision making behind and start deploying a future mindset? In this new talk, Gerd Leonhard addresses a world of leadership where most of the old models are suddenly obsolete, and delivers inspirational precepts from the parallel worlds of imagination and invention.


Perhaps the most burning issue facing humanity is our ever-deepening relationship with the computers, bots, devices, robots and machines that increasingly surround our lives, everywhere and at all times. Humans and ‘intelligent machines’ are increasingly interconnecting and overlapping; and some Silicon Valley pundits may even argue that a full symbiosis of man and machines is near. The Internet of Things (IoT) is already here, and artificial intelligence has become a global buzzword. But how will we – as linear and utterly inefficient beings – cope with this increasing empowerment of software and machines, and this global tsunami of real-time information? What will happen to our values and ethics in a world of ultra-smart intelligent agents, artificial intelligence and the coming ‘singularity’? Most importantly, how will we define a good man-machine balance, going forward, and how will we keep humans-in-the-loop?


"Gerd did a fantastic job at a recent global logistics conference - opening up the opportunities of the future, and bringing in varied examples from a host of different industries to explore new ways of thinking. Had a big impact with the team." - John Marsden Unilever

"I know that everyone in the audience found Gerd to be inspiring, informative and challenging, and wanting more. Delivered in a punchy and dynamic "TED" style" - Richard McLellan Director, Footprint at WWF International

"Green Futurist Gerd Leonhard gave a fantastic keynote at Ecosummit Berlin 2012 that we recorded for Ecosummit TV. Gerd talked about sustainable capitalism and why we have to move from ego to eco." - Jan Michael Hess CEO of Ecosummit - smart green business network for startups, VCs and corporates

Books By Gerd Leonhard

  • The Future of Music, with David Kusek (2005)
  • The End of Control (2007)
  • Music 2.0 (2008)
  • Friction is Fiction (2009)
  • The Future of Content (2011)
  • From Ego to Eco (2012)

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