My Mission

Kai, what drives you as a futurologist?

My vocation is to pursue two objectives: firstly, education. Few people have the opportunity to deal with trends all day long. This privilege is reserved for futurologists like me. We accumulate mountains of information and see connections that are important for so many people, institutions and companies. My contribution is intended to help as many people as possible to obtain and apply the relevant information – filtered through my research.

Secondly, lateral thinking. My contributions are intended to help people critically question their own point of view, their (corporate) strategies and plans for the future. These include everyday questions such as “do I want to decipher my genetic material and know potential health risks of the future long before it occurs?” to “what does it mean for my marketing and sales strategy if a Chinese retail giant enters the European market?” What is important to me is the open, progressive discourse on questions of the future.

My contributions are intended to help not to bury our heads in the sand, but to re-evaluate the status quo on a new basis and with a fresh perspective with an information advantage. In this way, I contribute to accepting life or the world not as a determined, predetermined environment, but as a formable scenario.

This sounds like a Sisyphos task!

(laughs) That’s right. I don’t have high hopes of reaching everyone. Of course, that would be great. But i don’t care about mass, it’s about class. If each of my Zlog contributions or lectures triggers this effect in 5% of the recipients, a lot has already been achieved. And that also works when I look at the letters, feedback and long-term customer relationships after only a few years in the market. Apart from that, to stay in the picture, I am a happy rock slider, because unlike Sisyphos, my rock does not roll down into the valley after every attempt; the summit is just eerily high.

Especially in times of fake news and an eerie flood of information, it is no longer easy for anyone to form an independent judgment. Too many sources of information overwhelm many people… where do you actually find independent journalism, what is actually a government conspiracy and who actually said that the earth is really a bullet? I am convinced that the global science community has long since had the answers to this question. This is because scientific findings are only published after other scientists have confirmed the results in the peer-review process. Only such ones make it into my statements, enriched by decisions from business and politics, and occasionally a quantitative statistic gets lost in the chain of argument. I hope that this foundation will also be more popular in the political establishment.

How do you measure good future research?

Good future research does not want to be right with its forecasts and scenarios, but to create the basis for decision-making in the here and now. Sometimes the aim of future research is also to prevent a future scenario, as the example “The Limits of Growth” shows. Good future research can at any time provide proof of how it has come to its findings. Unlike most other sciences, foresight is characterized by the fact that its research object, the future or the future, is the most important. futures, does not exist and can never exist. For this reason, futurologists pay careful attention to place their assumptions on the most solid foundation of used sources and foreign thoughts, as well as to explain the path to knowledge in a plausible and comprehensible manner. This is where the line runs to trend research, which is more based on opinions and driven by interests.

After all, futurology is oriented on the one hand towards ethical objectivity – should it exist – and on universal values. After the Second World War, the influence of religious institutions in the Western world has diminished more and more, which I welcome from a philosophical perspective. On the other hand, no comparable institution has yet succeeded in filling this vacuum with “new” values. The international community has a consensus, not least with the UN Charter of Human Rights. In my view, it is conveyed too little and too inconsistently.

How did you get into your job?

I had a favorite teacher at the high school, who was supposed to lead our class (the first bilingual project class in the state) up to the Abitur and gave us tremendous support and challenge. After the 8th He died suddenly and far too early. One of his very central messages, which I often remember and which has shaped me greatly, was :be prepared”, the old Scout maxim. After graduating, I soon went through the study of sociology and political/administrative sciences out of pure interest and contrary to my actual inclination to computer science in Potsdam. This, frankly, had virtually nothing to do with the future.

In the last bachelor’s semester, I happened to come across the relatively new Master’s degree in Future Research at the Free University in Berlin and attended an information event. At that moment I knew I had to enroll. Said, done. For me, futurology has always been the chain of scientific evidence with largely normative but independent future design. In addition, I carry this intrinsic motivation in me to want to save the world (laughs) and this way seemed to me already then as a functioning vehicle on the way there.

What do you advise young people to do in the future when they are about to graduate from school?

In fact, this is one of the most common questions I ask after my performances. “What should my daughter study?” – quite honestly, there has never been a universal patent answer to this, and there will never be. I always ask: “What does her daughter like to do, where are her interests and strengths?” and usually the answer is in what is said.

Softskills are much more important than the subject of study or training. It is unlikely that young people will pursue the profession they learn or study after school until they retire. At the same time, future generations of workers are more valuable than ever to the labour market, which is why they will increasingly choose their own jobs and shape it themselves. The keyword “New Work” brings together the perspectives of employees and employers in that the importance of individual bliss plays a role for the first time historically; in addition, employers are increasingly responding to the human needs of their current and future employees.

The bottom line is that I can only repeat myself on the question: openness to the future, curiosity, desire to learn, a healthy pinch of self-confidence and, of course, social skills and empathy are much more important than a certificate. Well, maybe just as important in Germany (laughs).

And what do you say to people who are afraid of the future?

At this point I often find myself in the role of a therapist. Many people worry about potential futures, have a fluffy feeling in the pit of my stomach when I talk or write about artificial intelligence or self-driving vehicles. At this point, everyone has to feel inside and openly question where this feeling comes from. Of course, due to the external circumstances, we are increasingly encouraged (or driven) to leave our comfort zones. This will never change: mammals are “programmed” to want to establish safety in their natural habitat, i.e. to remain in the comfort zone and to fill their role. The human species, however, is developing a bit out of this grid and is now at a crossroads during the unprecedented transformation of the digital era.

I always say that the future is a question of perspective. Accordingly, I reply to anxious people: think the other way around. What if the exact opposite of your idea for the future occurs? And what part can you do to make your utopia happen? And then I do not accept a resigned answer, that nothing can be changed. The most famous scientist of our era was wheelchair-bound by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most influential climate activist at the moment is still a school-aged, the most inspiring human and women’s rights activist and The Nobel Peace Prize laureate comes from a crisis-ridden, then Taliban-controlled valley in Pakistan. The list is expandable as desired – why do we rather worry than act?

Kai Gondlach

Master of Arts Future Research
Expert for futurology and passionate
keynote speaker.

Get in touch

Write to me! Request for an appearance, workshop or contribution - or simply feedback. I am looking forward to your mail!

Get in touch

Write to me! Request for an appearance, workshop or contribution - or simply feedback. I am looking forward to your mail!