During my latest episode of Metaverse, I was joined by Dr. Amy Zalman, renowned global futurist, professor, and chief executive of Prescient. Founded in 2017, Prescient offers services to public, private and non-profit organisations to help accelerate change through strategic retreats and executive education. Also a part-time professor of Strategic Foresight at Georgetown University, Amy has held an array of positions including the first chair of Information Integration at the United States National War College, and chief executive and president of the World Future Society. She was named one of the top seven futurists in the world by Huffington Post and has published over 50 articles, book chapters, essays, and monographs.
We began by discussing her work in bringing the World Future Society up to speed– given that it was founded decades before the Internet existed– and covered how today’s more global futurism differs from that of the past. In the 1970s and 80s, each region had its own take on foresight. But facing crises such as the pandemic and climate change reinforces what Amy calls a “planetary unity.”
Amy touched upon her favourite subject, which is the future of governance. She believes we’re heading towards the erasure of the public-private sector– essentially a collaborative power between governments and corporations, but clarified that this doesn’t mean the nationalisation of private companies. In fact, she holds that the threat of nationalism is “silly,” insofar as virtually no one in the government would have the expertise to run Google were they to attempt a public sector takeover, so essentially it would still be a collaborative endeavour. She also stressed that this sort of evolution would not stifle innovation, as this more often than not comes from engagement at an optimal level between both sectors. In particular, we’ve already seen the fast-tracking of innovation in this way during Covid.
In looking towards the future, Amy noted that we are our own biggest threat, and that it’s crucial that political systems and governments get their act together and figure out how to communicate and collaborate. We have already seen how inaction can lead to dire consequences– already we have pivoted from talking about mitigating climate change to discussing adaptation. So to overcome upcoming challenges will require broadscale collaboration, which simply isn’t happening effectively in our current society. So to Amy, this is the biggest cultural, systemic issue we have to address.
In spite of this gloomy moment, I bonded with Amy over our shared optimism for the future. As a professor– and new mother– she believes young people are our greatest hope, and that first and foremost, we need to invest in fostering young minds. The next generation is armed with imaginations that will empower them to come up with innovations that will forestall impending crises, so education is key to ensuring a brighter future. She also touched on large structural institutional change she deems is on the horizon. Amy believes we are entering a new era for the individual that’s shifting from our old industrial model, allowing people to gain autonomy and become “their best selves.” She believes more equitable access to information, education and technological connection will be key.
To learn more of Amy’s insights and hear the entirety of our conversation, you can listen to the podcast here.