We live in tumultuous times. The same internet that connects us to others all over the world also amplifies times of crisis. There is a sense of concern, of restlessness, of division right now that’s palpable. But all is not lost. There is hope.
In June, Acquia invited futurist, speaker and author Gerd Leonhard to Acquia Engage Europe as the keynote speaker, and I was lucky enough to catch his presentation. His message was clear: The future is better than we think.
From Leonhard’s website, “The future is already here – we just haven’t paid attention. Many of us are far too busy coping with present challenges to explore the future in any real depth – and when we do, our hopes and fears often run away with us, resulting in utopias or dystopias that are not very helpful in terms of planning and decisions. Today’s leaders and their organizations need a dedicated, passionate long-term understanding of the future if they are to successfully navigate the exponential waves of change.”A former musician and producer, Leonhard understands how much technology can fundamentally change an industry. He was right in the middle of the music industry when it went through the its major digital transition.
But in Leonhard opinion, this was great. Instead of fighting against the digital shift, as many other music business professionals and organizations did, instead he set up an early internet business in music.
The insights gleaned from that experience where chronicled in his first book, co-authored with Dave Kusek, “The Future of Music” in 2005. This book also served as the inspiration for Spotify.
Fast forward to today. We see so many worrying news stories that range from concerning to painting a terrifying dystopian future for humanity. Artificial intelligence is seen as a threat, the environment is in peril, automation is stealing our jobs, we’re an aging population still dealing with inequality, and so on.
More and more, “Black Mirror” seems all too real. While there are many aspect of technology that cause for concern, there are still so many amazing things happening. It’s just overwhelming when it’s all happening at the same time.
Leonhard believes humanity will change more in the next 20 years than we did in the last 300 years. Data is the new oil. AI is the new electricity. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the new nervous system. Technology is changing us. It’s no longer if we can do something, but why.
He predicts that within the next 20 years we will address food shortage, stop or even reverse global warming, prevent or slow diseases, and so much more. The key is we just have to agree about what we want and use technology for positive effect.
“I don’t predict the future, I observe the future. Now the future is here,” he said. Watch Gerd Leonhard’s full presentation below and know that not all is lost. This is just the beginning.