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““The future is continuously in flux. This is why it is so hard to predict. But on the positive side, this also means we have the ability to influence its outcome ourselves, at least to some degree. ” – Speaker Richard Yonck
Futurist and founder of Intelligent Future Consulting, speaker Richard Yonck utilizes a
foresight framework to identify and explore your organization’s preferred future. Richard
enlightens businesses on the impact that emerging technologies combined with societal
changes will have and how to best be prepared for them. While the future will have its
challenges, it also provides many opportunities. Speaker Richard Yonck can help unlock
these insights for you.
Richard’s perspective on the future is informed by over 25 years of experience as a computer systems programmer-analyst, during which time he guided clients through the rapidly-shifting technological landscape.
An engaging speaker with a unique perspective, Richard strives to find both the opportunities and the challenges new advances will bring. A consulting futurist and formerly a contributing editor for the long-running The Futurist magazine, Richard is an avid guide to the changes and challenges we’ll face in the coming decades. Audiences of all sizes – from professional organizations, think tanks and business leaders to civic groups, educational festivals and public forums – have called Richard’s presentations “awe-inspiring”, “passionate” and “thought-provoking”. Whether a keynote or a conference presentation, an after-dinner talk, or an educational experience for employees, Richard will tailor the material to captivate and excite your audience.
Richard’s work has appeared in numerous publications including The Futurist Magazine, Scientific American, World Future Review, Fast Company, Wired, Psychology Today, H+ Magazine, Mensa Bulletin, American Cinematographer and The Seattle Times. 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.
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 most recent 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.See keynotes with Richard Yonck
In this keynote, Richard explores the advances that are rapidly being made in a range of
technologies, advances that will soon result in machine intelligence becoming nearly equivalent with
our own. However, there are major reasons why it can never exactly duplicate human intelligence
and for this reason we will face all manner of challenges in our interactions with it. (As a former AI
and computing contributing editor for The Futurist Magazine, Richard has been following advances
in these fields for decades.)
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.
Emotion being a core aspect of the human condition, these technologies are being, or will
soon 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?
In this keynote, Richard takes the audience on a journey that explores the many drivers and forces that are not only causing this transformation but are propelling it, bringing about our current era of exponential change. Understanding this is one of
the critical pieces to understanding tomorrow’s potential. Fortunately, there are many tools available
today to help us identify the possible and probable futures that lay ahead of us. Armed with this knowledge, we can work toward the future we want – our preferred future.
Recently we organized the first-ever Emotion AI Summit: featuring 28+ speakers and 300+ attendees at the MIT Media Lab. Richard joined tech leaders in the day-long event as a panelist on our “Future of AI: Ethics, Morality and the Workforce” panel. Richard helped make the Ethics of AI session one of my favorite of the event.”
I thought you were so professional and with such a command of your topic. It was a joy working with you.”
Richard Yonck is a futurist, researcher, writer, and communicator of exceptional talent and high professional standards.”
Richard shared with us perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring, intriguing presentations on new technologies – so much so that we invited him back for a follow-up presentation. One of the things that differentiates Richard is he’s truly passionate and knowledgeable about technology past, present and future.”
Getting in touch with Speaker Richard Yonck:
What is the one piece of advice you would share with a company planning for the future of their industry?
It’s been observed that we tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate its effect in the long run. Therefore, company leaders need to look less at their competitors and more to the startups in their industries, who are nimble and able to spot and quickly solve problems. In this era of rapid change, larger companies can be at a disadvantage, becoming too bloated and set in their ways to quickly address and adapt to new trends. Instead, we should look more to the innovators: the startups; the artists who have their pulse on societal changes; the younger generation and the trends they initiate. This is where you’ll find your future opportunities, as well as your future customers.
How did you begin your speaking career?
I have been reading about science and technology since I was a young boy and began writing professionally three decades ago. As I’ve engaged in conversations with readers in person and online, I found I really enjoyed those dialogues. This became the foundation for wanting to share what my research and writing have taught me through new channels. In the course of my speaking, I’ve found I especially enjoy the Q&A sessions, as I always learn something new from the exchange.
A lot of people formulate fear around the thought of AI, how do you help audiences overcome the fear of AI?
For the foreseeable future, AI remains a tool, or rather a broad set of tools that we use to engage our increasingly complex world. Obviously, AI has grown considerably more capable over the recent decades, which can be unnerving. But most of the risks this brings are not Terminator scenarios or the Singularity, but in how we choose to use and operate these powerful new tools. As we integrate AI into more of our systems and our world, we’re gaining immense benefits, but we’re also learning lessons about the challenges it can bring, most recently in terms of bias and privacy. As a result, we are now having conversations about the ethics of these systems and what we want to do about this. In light of this, it seems evident we all need to take a more active role in determining how AI is used and what controls are established in order to protect ourselves.
What inspires you most about this field?
I take inspiration from futures work because I believe in the potential of tomorrow. How we plan and prepare for it will affect the rest of our lives, as well as the lives of those who come after us. I see my writing, speaking and consulting as an opportunity to be in service to others and help them prepare and feel more optimistic about our collective future.
How do you stay up to date with the latest and greatest technology trends?
Keeping up to date with new developments is a multifaceted, multimodal process. It includes attending lectures, listening to other futurists and talking with peers, interviewing researchers and visiting labs, exposing myself to the arts, following current events, meeting with students, and listening to podcasts. And of course, reading journals, books, websites and more. There is a lot of reading.
What is your favorite science fiction movie? And why?
Though it’s difficult to choose a single sci-fi movie, I’d say my all-time favorite is probably the original 1982 Blade Runner. Besides being based on a story by the amazing Philip K. Dick, it’s a great study about what makes us human. Of course, as we saw with that movie’s replicants, it may not be so easy to know who is and isn’t human in the future.
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