Miss Metaverse (Katie Aquino) is a futurist consultant and founder of the Futurista™ agency, and startups FutureFriday.org and Awesome Future TV and she has been a guest on several podcasts, including Robot Overlordz, Inspireland, and On Air With Sir. She recently had an interview with Future/Culture on a variety of topics. Future/Culture is a magazine run by IEET Contributor Travis Leland.
F/C: Hello, Miss Metaverse, it’s great to finally get to speak with you. I’ve been following you for a while now.
MM: Social media keeps making the world smaller and smaller.
F/C: First off, let’s find out a little bit about you. Who is Katie Aquino and how did she become Miss Metaverse?
MM: I was born Katie Schultz in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in Babylon on Long Island, New York. I always enjoyed art that explores existentialism and “the future”. This is what fueled my career in film and television but it’s a tough industry to be in. I eventually moved on from television and film to focus on startups and social media. I got to a certain point in my life when I had all the skills I needed to go out on my own and so, I launched the first version of my website which was themissmetaverse.com.
F/C: But, where did Miss Metaverse come from?
MM: Metaverse is the result of having read many books on quantum physics and spirituality like Ervin Laszlo’s books which spoke of multiple universes and the Akashic records. I loved the name and philosophy of the universe being a Metaverse and so, the word became significant to well, everything. For example, when I’d tell someone I love him or her, that person wouldn’t be “my universe” or “my everything” but rather, my Metaverse.
F/C: I’ve noticed that a lot of futurists and transhumanists adopt code names. You have Miss Metaverse and I have TJL-2080. I’ve also seen R.U.Sirius, Singularity 2045 and a few others. This goes all the way back to FM-2030. It’s become pretty commonplace. In fact, it reminds me of superhero names, like the X-Men. Why do you think this phenomenon is seen throughout the futurist community?
MM: Creating and living life as such “superhero names” is just beginning to become part of our culture. Today, we accept that artists like Lady Gaga and rappers Yeezy, 2 Chainz, and Eminem build empires under their alias’, so why can’t hackers, makers, and futurists?
Right now, we are in the very early stages of digitizing everything so I have no doubt that when we exist in incredibly realistic virtual worlds that are as important as our material world, it will be very common for us to live our lives by names of our own choosing rather than the names we are born with.
So, why choose to live life as a name other than your birth name? The answer is that we are all existing in two universes now, the digital and material. Having a “superhero name” can help distinguish these separate realities. Then again, some people do just want to sound cool (and I’m okay with that).
FYI – I was such an X-Men fan growing up, 94’ Fleer Ultra 4 LIFE! Hah.
F/C: In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of futurism? In other words, between research into longevity, AI, space exploration, nanotech, mechanical augmentation, singularity studies and everything else that gets talked about in the futurist community, which is the single most important of these fields to us in the immediate future?
MM: What a huge question! Wow. Well, if I had to choose one in particular it would be space exploration. Without our ability to leave this planet for good, humanity will simply cease to exist.
F/C: I personally think the most important thing we should be investing in right now is sustainable living, like what is being done with The Venus Project and others. Once we can get our stuff together here, we can start looking into advancing further. I know you have mentioned The Venus Project a lot. How do you think that is going and what do you think they need to focus on?
MM: The Venus Project is an organization that proposes that through the use of advanced technologies that our civilization can exist “beyond politics, poverty, and war”. I believe that the Venus Project planted seeds in the minds of several generations of critical thinkers and that’s a good thing.
We need to stop this business-as-usual mindset or else, we will have a very tough time in the future. I say this because there are just too many possible dystopian future scenarios that I see coming in the future (if we don’t jump ship real soon). I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but I know you can feel it too. Some researchers believe we’ve already gone too far, that we’ve already passed peak oil and that we will never be able to fix the damage done to our planet.
I don’t have high hopes for The Venus Project changing the world directly but I do see those inspired by Jacque’s work building a better future.
F/C: Lately there has been a push to turn transhumanism into a political movement. There is a Transhumanist Party complete with a candidate for President, Zoltan Istvan. While I have nothing against him and think he has some brilliant ideas, I can see how many people would be put off by his articles about some topics (mainly atheism) and that would turn off a lot of people who might otherwise be interested in H+. Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing that Zoltan is getting some press in his run?
MM: I think Zoltan has done a great job at not only leveraging the press to bring attention to his campaign but more importantly, to raise public awareness of the transhumanist movement in general.
The 2016 Presidential Election will be an exciting one, particularly because there are so many candidates in the running. Could this be the first election when a third-party candidate becomes president? I hope so. The last time a third-party candidate became even close to winning was in 1912 when Teddy Roosevelt left the Republican Party and came in second.
The most common misconception about voting for president in the U.S. is that voting for a third-party is like throwing away votes. We’re ready to break the Republican/Democrat binary. It’s time.
As to whether or not Zoltan will win? I have my doubts but the fact that he is running is a step in the right direction.
F/C: I personally think it would be better for a Transhumanist organization, like the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies or something similar to become a lobby group. Instead of one person taking the lead and trying to become President, which again could put people off, why not a group that tries to inform policy at the legislative level? I think that’s a much more realistic way of advancing the goals of futurists, don’t you?
MM: I’m not afraid of speaking my mind on politics because I’m fairly certain that America is ready for change, real change. As progress continues to accelerate exponentially, we will need a president who truly understands the vastly different world we’re just beginning to create.
Media and press coverage of Zoltan’s presidential running has been repeating the slogan “Want to live forever? Vote for me.” I think it’s so great. Why? Because transhumanism and immortality are becoming hip in America.
F/C: Switching gears, let’s look at your work. What is Future Friday and Awesome Future TV?
MM: Future Friday is a top-secret startup that’s only a new blog at the moment. I have big plans… really big plans. Awesome Future TV is a project I began last year. It began as sort of a web series where I interviewed inventors and entrepreneurs about their products and insights on the future. I will be launching an Indiegogo to raise funds so that AFTV will become the first ever digital television channel dedicated to futurism.
F/C: How can people get involved in these things?
MM: As I’m preparing for the next phases of my projects, I encourage you all to subscribe to my Awesome Future newsletter via pop-up on FuturistMM.com. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Periscope @missmetaverse and give me as many hearts as you can.
F/C: You also do some consulting work as a futurist, right?
MM: I work with companies both large and small on strategic foresight, white papers, and most recently, augmented and virtual reality consulting (my favorite).
F/C: How does one get into that field?
MM: Like Nike, Just Do It.
F/C: So how can one acquire your services for a conference or something?
MM: Those who wish to inquire about speaking opportunities can reach me via contact form at www.FuturistMM.com/contact-me and my team will be in touch ASAP.
Most of my business comes from speaking engagements. I’m presenting regularly now which is great.
F/C: Is there anything else you want to say to Future/Culture readers?
MM: The Future Is Awesome.
F/C: Thank you very much for your time, Miss Metaverse. It’s been a pleasure.
Images: courtesy of Miss Metaverse