Dirk Knemeyer

The human side
of futurism

Venues choose me to share the latest and greatest science and technology of today, along with trendspotting and predictions into the future – all with an unwavering focus on how these things impact people. I’ve had the privilege of speaking at multiple TEDx events, keynoting conferences in the United States and Europe, and lecturing at some of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions. Here are some of my recent talks.

dirk-speaking

Redesign Love

Rules around love, sex, and relationships stretch back to the Neolithic Revolution some 12,000 years ago, modernized first during Ancient Greece and Rome, then later updated during the Industrial Revolution. Yet the world we live in today looks little like the world ushered in by the Industrial Revolution, to say nothing about the real roots thousands of years earlier. This workshop gave participants historical context and invited them to explore how traditional systems like romantic love should be reconsidered for our rapidly evolving digital futures. November 2015, Frontiers of Interaction, Milan, Italy.

The Edges of Imagination

Our digital, global world offers unprecedented opportunity for people to not just identify who and what they want to be, but successfully achieve transforming into that desired future. This keynote speech used my own process of personal redesign – honed over more than a decade of fundamentally changing my professional and personal self various times – as a touchpoint and exemplar of methods and mindsets this creative community of thousands of people could apply to best aligning who they are with who they want to be. September 2015, Big Design Conference, Dallas, United States.

UX & Emerging Technologies

Bioscience has learned more about the human animal over the last 10 years than in all of the preceding human history. Combined with the power of the internet and digital technology the world is changing at a dizzying pace. For user experience professionals, most of whom are experts in software, the rise of these technologies will eliminate the need for many of their current jobs even while creating more new ones. The trick is that the jobs of the future will require far more scientific and engineering knowledge than what the UX community is currently expected to have. This talk explains the operating dynamics to come and proposes paths for UX professionals of any level of experience to participate or even become a leader in the soon-emerging fields of the future. October 2015, UX Lausanne, Switzerland. April 2015, Service Design Salon, Tokyo, Japan.

Understanding Us

User experience, and by extension interaction design, purport to focus on understanding the needs and desires of users. While compelling in theory, in fact the large majority of practitioners in these fields have precious little formal training in the sciences of human understanding – bioscience, neuroscience, psychology, and sociology, among others. Given that these sciences are enjoying a golden age of discovery and insight it is the perfect time for UX professionals to invest in becoming true experts in the people and social groups that they are creating for. This talk frames the opportunity and offers strategies and plans for practitoners to augment their knowledge while continuing on their current path. February 2012, IxDA Conference, Dublin, Ireland.

Time & Tools to Change

We have put people on the moon, sequenced the human genome, and created machines that dominate the best human minds in strategy games like chess and go. Yet, this focus on hard science and achievement has left a notable and gaping hole in our understanding: how to help individuals and societies live healthy, fulfilled, and joyful lives. We continue to struggle with social issues like violent crime, high divorce rates, and high rates of depression, among many other unfortunate circumstances. This TEDx talk challenged the audience to question our culture’s priorities while offering new ways for us to make a better world together. November 2011, TEDx Columbus, United States.

Humanity for Better Business

The transhumanism community explores the most bleeding edge technologies of life enhancement and extension. From medicine, exercise, and nutrition approaches that are clear best practices, to a strong interest and investment in more fringe technologies such as cryonics, they are among the most creative and open thinkers about the possible future states of humanity. This talk challenged them to move beyond their focus on the “more” and broaden their consideration to embrace the “better”. Social issues such as young male violence, wealth disparity, and intolerance toward others will stunt the future utopias imagined by the movement and undermine the most essential point of all: enjoying a higher level of human existence. May 2011, Humanity+ Conference, New York City, United States.