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Futurist Amelia Kallman, A-Speakers Interview

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In this interview, we have the privilege of getting to know Amelia Kallman, a renowned futurist, speaker, and author whose expertise in emerging technologies offers profound insights into their impact on society. With a focus on AI, XR, the metaverse, and Web 3.0, Amelia provides a visionary perspective on the future for both businesses and individuals. Join us as we delve into the transformative world of technology with this esteemed expert.

1. Can you share a bit about your journey into becoming a futurist, speaker, and author? What initially sparked your interest in emerging technologies and their impact on society?

I grew up on stage as a child actress, then went on to own nightclubs in New York City and Shanghai where I also performed and directed shows. When I finally got a visa to work in the UK, I talked my way into a role at a creative technology agency where I worked my way up to become their Global Head of Innovation. It was my job to host and manage innovation labs in London and Dubai, as well as curate and design labs for companies like KPMG, EY, Accenture, and PWC. I was one of the first people in this country to have hands-on experience with Google Glass, Oculus Rift and IBM Watson, and helped organise the UK debut of Pepper Robot, Microsoft’s Hololens, and the Magic Leap. It excites me to be on the cutting edge where there is always something new to learn, so this industry suits me well.

In 2017 I went independent as a futurist. Since then I’ve spoken at over 100 conferences in over 20 countries, written industry-leading reports, and consulted for a number of Fortune 500 companies. I pride myself on being able to make the complex accessible, empowering audiences with the foundational knowledge, context, and language they need to take their learnings back into their teams and communities. While I speak about both opportunities and risks, my aim is always to leave the audience feeling inspired, with actionable insights they can immediately apply.

2. Your areas of expertise span AI, XR, the metaverse, and Web 3.0. Could you elaborate on how you see these technologies shaping the future, and what specific opportunities or challenges they present for businesses and individuals?

I think we are at the beginning of a technological renaissance, one that is forever going to change the future of industry, society, politics, the environment and the global economy. This change is being driven by new demographics and evolving expectations, as well as the convergence of emerging technologies and the evolution of the internet. I believe that it is at the intersection points of new technologies (e.g. blockchain, AI, XR, etc.) where we can start to see a roadmap of both coming opportunities and disruptions.

By 2030, 58% of the global workforce will be made up of Millennials and Gen-Z. Gen-Alpha will be entering the workforce, and we’ll also have the largest population of people over 60 ever, many of whom will still be working. In addition, 59% of experts believe that organisations will continue to reduce their real estate footprints in favour of short-term leases, coworking spaces, and continued home working. So we are looking at having the most disparate workforce ever – with a wide range of different levels of experience, expectations, and locations. Organisations are going to need new solutions to bring people together in engaging ways to enable collaboration, communication and training, as well as create a sense of camaraderie and culture that is a key differentiator in attracting and retaining talent in an increasingly competitive workspace.

MetaHybrid – a term I use to describe the future of work – is about creating one seamlessly integrated, consistent, and stimulating experience across all areas of work, including physical, digital, and now also, the virtual. When we work together in virtual spaces as avatars one added benefit is that we may find it’s easier to concentrate on the things we all have in common, rather than making conscious or unconscious judgments based on someone’s age or physical appearance.

Without a doubt, AI is also going to play a significant role in the future. For example, a recent study by MIT found that by giving workers access to a Generative AI assistant, they became 14% more productive, and workers with only two months of experience became equally competent to those with six months of experience.

There are so many layers and complexities with Generative AI, from where it is at today, to where it is headed in the future. When it comes to opportunities, I try to break it down, focusing on Productivity, Personalization, Predictability, and Content. I also talk a lot about risks.

3. The intersection of technology, society, and culture is a fascinating area to explore. How do you navigate this intersection in your work, and what advice would you give to individuals and businesses looking to adapt to these changing dynamics?

Recently I have been concluding my keynotes by talking about equality. A new study by Revelio Labs has found that AI is set to disproportionately replace jobs held by women. This is mostly because today women are less likely to hold leadership and decision-making positions, which draws attention to existing deep-rooted bias within the current workspace. In tech, for instance, only 15%of leadership roles are held by women, and I was shocked to learn recently that a third of women in this field quit within their first year. But this forecast does not have to be inevitable. Significant evidence shows diversity is an advantage, and ultimately the people at the end of these decisions can choose not to let this technology set us even further back in terms of equality and diversity in the workplace.

4. You’ve been named one of the ‘Top 25 Women in the Metaverse.’ What advice do you have for women in this industry?

My advice is always to speak up and be seen. We need representation, role models, allies, champions, and mentors. We need to support and stand up for each other. Be the change you want to see.

5. Sustainability, Gen-Z/Gen-Alpha, and emerging human rights issues are among the areas you’ve studied. How do you see these themes intersecting with the technologies you specialise in, and what implications do they have for future developments?

Last year I did a TEDx Talk asking the question ‘Is the Metaverse Bad for the Environment?’. More recently, I’ve been researching the impact of Generative AI. The more powerful AI is the more energy it requires, equaling a greater carbon footprint. While data is still being collected, research indicates a Generative AI search requires 4-5 times more energy than a regular search-engine query. The energy it took to train Chat GPT-3 with 175 billion parameters was equivalent to driving 123 gas vehicles for 1 year, generating 552 tons of CO2. Comparatively, GPT-4 has 1.7 trillion parameters… A lot of companies I work with have set goals to be carbon neutral by 2030 yet they haven’t figured emerging technologies into those goals.

It is vital that we take the environmental impact of these technologies into consideration from the beginning, as well as invest in renewable solutions. I believe that while these technologies will inevitably contribute to a footprint, they are also the same technologies that will help us to solve some of our greatest climate challenges, but it’s up to us to be strategic and responsible today to ensure sustainability for tomorrow.

6. Lastly, with your extensive experience as a speaker and communicator, what advice would you give to aspiring futurists or thought leaders who want to effectively communicate complex technological ideas to a wider audience?

Part of the reason I think my keynotes are so effective is because I go out of my way to make sure everyone comes along for the ride. I don’t take it for granted that everyone knows or understands some of the hyped-up terms of our industry (ex. Web 3.0, metaverse, LLMs, etc.), and try to talk about these technologies and their impact in a way that is understandable and inclusive of everyone. It’s easy for people to feel intimidated, overwhelmed, or fearful of these topics, but I strongly believe that the key to changing that is education. My goal is always to empower people with knowledge and inspire them to take what they’ve learnt back into their teams and communities, and to be leaders within this technological renaissance we are all a part of.

Amelia’s insights into the ever-evolving tech landscape have undoubtedly left us with a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. As we conclude this interview, we invite you to explore Amelia’s profile on our website. There, you can delve even deeper into her expertise and discover a treasure trove of thought-provoking content and valuable resources. Whether you’re a tech enthusiast, business leader, or simply curious about the future, Amelia’s profile is a destination you don’t want to miss.

Check out Amelia’s profile here: www.a-speakers.com/speakers/amelia-kallman/

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