What if we could imagine the future and even plan for it? What if there was a way to feel secure while still bracing for the next “unthinkable” event? What if we could still feel hope for the future while squarely facing its challenges? Jane McGonigal believes we can imagine the “unimaginable.” Why is she so confident? In 2008 and 2010, McGonigal and her team at the Institute of the Future ran simulations that predicted human behavior in the face of a hypothetical global respiratory pandemic in precise detail, from social distancing to masking to wildfires and even the spread of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and the unbridgeable political divide. Cut to 2020/2021, and not only were McGonigal’s predictions proven correct, but her findings have also shown that the participants in the simulation found themselves less shell shocked when COVID-19 hit. And I thought we could all stand to learn from her.
Jane is a future forecaster and a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems— andin her spare time, she’s the New York Times bestselling author of Reality Is Brokenand SuperBetter, and her TED talks have more than 15 million views. I talk to her today about IMAGINABLE: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything—Even Things That Seem Impossible Today, which came out this week.
I talk to her about getting better at imagining the unimaginable, why facial recognition technologies and climate change stand to have an impact on the years ahead, and the concept of urgent optimism. This is one of my favorites in recent memory, and I think it’ll be one of yours as well—so let’s jump right in!