Data is the New Oil: The Journey from Privacy to Publicy

Is data today’s key global resource? Futurists Gerd Leonhard, Stowe Boyd, Jamais Cascio, and Andreas Weigend debate the idea.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


April 10, 2012 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

Data is exploding all around us: every ‘like,’ check-in, tweet, click, and play is being logged and mined. Many data-centric companies such as Google are already paying us for our data by providing more or less free services.

Join leading futurists at swissnex in a debate co-organized by Switzerland’s The Futures Agency (TFA) on data as today’s key global resource.

Is data the new oil? TFA CEO Gerd Leonhard leads fellow thinkers Stowe Boyd, Jamais Cascio, and Andreas Weigend in an exchange on where data is going, and how we are going along with it.

Data will become a key currency, as it is a virtually limitless, non-rival, and exponentially growing good. Do we need regulations or trust frameworks to deal with it? Can data really be safeguarded in an entirely free-market system governed by commercial interests? What will Generation AO (always-on) share with whom, when, where, and how? And if data is the new oil, how do we avoid wars and global conflicts fought over it?


6:30 pm  doors open
7:00 pm  welcome & presentations
8:15 pm  discussion and Q&A
9:00 pm  reception and networking
10:30 pm  doors close


Stowe Boyd

is an internationally recognized authority on social tools and their impact on media, business, and society. He is best known for his commentary on the social revolution, the rise of social tools, and the new world ahead of us at, his random observations and curation at, and his public speaking.
In recent years, Boyd has spoken at Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Office 2.0, Net:work, Reboot, Defrag, 140 Characters, Lift, Shift, Sibos, TEDxMidAtlantic, SxSWi 2012 and many others.


Jamais Cascio

Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of their Top 100 Global Thinkers, Jamais Cascio writes about the intersection of emerging technologies, environmental dilemmas, and cultural transformation. Cascio’s work appears in publications as diverse as Metropolis, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Policy. He has been featured in multiple television programs discussing foresight and environmental issues. Recent speaker appearances include Futuro e Sostanabilita 2010 in Rome, Lift10 in Geneva, and Social Business Edge in New York. He was a featured speaker at the TED 2006 conference, “The Future We Will Create,” in Monterey, California.
Cascio has worked in the field of scenario development for over a decade, and in 2010 was named a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Future, where he is a primary contributor to their annual Ten Year Forecast program. Cascio is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

In 2003, he co-founded, the award-winning website dedicated to finding and calling attention to models, tools and ideas for building a “bright green” future. In 2007, his work on calculating the carbon footprint of cheeseburgers went viral, appearing in dozens of newspapers and magazines, multiple radio programs, hundreds of websites, and even as part of a museum exhibit. Cascio lives outside of San Francisco, California, with his wife, two cats, and too many computers.


Gerd Leonhard

is a well-known futurist and author of five books. A highly influential keynote speaker, think-tank leader and advisor, and the Founder of, Leonhard also serves as Visiting Professor at the Fundação Dom Cabral (São Paulo, Brazil). He is well-known as the Co-author of the influential book The Future of Music (Berklee Press, 2005), and as the author of The End of Control (2007), Music 2.0 (2008), Friction is Fiction (2009, Lulu Publishing), and The Future of Content (Kindle-only, 2011). His new book From Ego to Eco will be released in 2012.
Leonhard is considered a leading expert on topics such as digital business models, the networked society, a sustainable business ecology, social media and social communications, TV & Radio 2.0, mobile content, innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship, consumer trends, UGC and peer production, copyright and IPR issues, next-generation advertising, marketing and branding, and recently the development of ‘green futures’ scenarios. In 2006, The Wall Street Journal called him, “one of the leading Media Futurists in the World.”

 A native of Germany, he now resides in Basel, Switzerland.


Andreas Weigend

studies the ongoing revolution in social data and its impact on consumers, business, and society. He teaches at Stanford University and directs the Social Data Lab. He was the chief scientist for, where he focused on building the customer-centric and measurement-focused culture that has been central to Amazon’s success.
Weigend works with innovative startups and global companies alike, helping them understand and leverage the irreversible changes in how consumers express themselves, make purchasing and lifestyle decisions, and relate to each other. He works with clients to define relevant metrics, design experiments, build predictive models, and invent incentives that inspire users to participate and share data, which results in new products and business models. In November 2011, he shared his vision on the future of data, mobile, and social technologies with the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Weigend studied electrical engineering, physics, and philosophy in Germany and Cambridge (UK), and received his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University. His career as a data scientist combined with his deep industry and startup experience allows him to successfully bridge the gap between academia and industry. He lives in San Francisco, Shanghai and online.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos