Futurist and Commentator on the Digital Revolution
"I want to see a world where we share the
wealth of knowledge and influence."
Andreas Ekström is one of our most requested futurists and commentators on the digital revolution. His passion is to educate for digital equality and he aims to understand the companies and behaviours that have become culturally, technologically and commercially drivers of change at all levels of society. He wants to see a world in which we share the wealth – not only financially, but also in terms of knowledge and influence.
Andreas uses a wide scope to understand the companies and behaviours that have become culturally, technologically and commercially drivers of change at all levels of society. He focuses his journalistic instincts on the good and the bad of the biggest power players in the digital world and considers what organisations can learn from them. He looks into new user demands, gathering of data, design and technology strategies.
Andreas has worked at numerous newspapers, written blogs, made podcasts and written seven books; “On Finding” being the latest. He has worked in close to 30 countries, was awarded ’Speaker of the Year’ in 2019, and his TedX talk was distributed through TED.com with over 1.5 million views to date.
Because Sweden: Understanding the Future through the Weirdest Country in the World
Seven Ways to Own the World
The Power of &
Interview with Andreas Ekström
You talk about the digital humanities and the fact that the humanities and technology should tie together. What exactly do you mean by this and what benefits would it bring?
The past hundred years have been the best humanity have seen, despite the hardships we have fought. A key reason is that we were able to combine the efforts of technology and innovation with clear political goals for society as a whole. Teachers, lawyers, artists, engineers and leaders at all levels pulled together in an unprecedented way. What has happened now is that technology has picked up the pace, for obvious reasons, and sometimes left other skill sets and insights behind. That leaves us with great innovation – but less reflection. I simply think we can build society better for most, through always adding more perspectives to our public life.
Do you think that the vast amount of information that Google holds via our internet searches means they have too much data? Can this present any potential threats or opportunities?
It’s really not so much about the amount of data as it is about the capacity to understand it. I would love to see Google open up more, and share data with the scientific community. It would be a wonderful way for Google to give back to society.
Moving forward, what do you believe the main arenas for friction will be for people and businesses as they go about their digital lives?
I am concerned about net neutrality – a somewhat boring term for the perhaps most important digital political issue we have to sort out. Without a truly open internet, where access is equal for everyone, we are not going to remain democratic – and we will see a lot less innovation from the new and independent start-up scenes of the world.
Yet, there is so much money to be made, short term, for internet service providers through selling access at different levels. Major battles will have to be fought to protect the internet as it was meant to be.
You say there are 7 ways to own the world – can you enlighten us on a few of them?
The seven ways idea is a way for me to try to frame the key future issues that we need to understand, to be positioned right, no matter what business we are in. Net neutrality as I mentioned is one of them. Another is digital identity. Who we are, legally, formally, online, is going to define us. Who will get that job, to be the issuer of our global passport? I also think that huge changes await in the financial sector, but I need some more time to explain how…
You are a journalist by profession, do you believe the media acts responsibly and should they do more to instil trust in the public?
There is so much we need to do better, not to mention all the business models we urgently need to invent. But at this point, we also must dare to trust some of the basic tools: finding out what is true, and then explaining and presenting the relevant facts for the general public, to make them informed citizens. I think we also may have reached a point when the media needs fewer columns and opinions, and more basic journalistic groundwork. But that will demand leadership: the clicks tend to go to the strongly opinionated. If there is one journalistic tool I am obsessed about, it is to always focus more on the right question than on the definitive answer. In my experience, any group that I meet that agrees with me to take that approach will leave the room with more momentum than those who have just been told exactly what to expect and what to do.
How to book Andreas
Andreas’ keynotes have been enjoyed at conferences all over Europe and he often serves as a digital thought partner for boards of directors and groups of leaders. His material reaches across issues of digitalization, media, politics and culture and his analysis focuses on the sociology of tech, rather than tech itself.
Andreas can also act as a moderator or facilitator – with a solid background in stage and tv production of different kinds, he can craft a full day of high quality content with the client, and take the role of overseeing the entire process.
“The Head of IS at our Risk Summit was truly wowed by Andreas Ekström’s keynote – saying it was the best keynote he could remember. Our C-level attendees agreed it was a great message with great delivery – thank you!”
— Worldwide IT Research Group
“Andreas Ekström‘s keynote went down a storm at our Management Summit. He was inspiring and gave a new perspective on rethinking our infrastructure.”
— Global Software Manufacturer
“Google is FINALLY realizing they are the editors of the world. So – what principles will guide them?”
— Andreas Ekström