Keep your mind hungry, else you will be devoured. Keep learning, keep trying, and intrepidly venture far beyond your comfort zone. If you allow yourself to become stagnant, you may find yourself consumed by regret.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kimberly Forsythe a.k.a. New World Optimist
Kimberly considers herself to be a “polymathic professional collector of experiences.” Her goal in life and every project she initiates is to disrupt, not be disrupted. And it is with this passion for innovative thought that she forges her way into writing.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
When I was a child, a lot of the things we do as a society never made much sense to me. I questioned why certain problems existed in the world. Why do I see ads of starving children on TV when my society has so much food? Why is the store shelf lined with products that are all basically the same, but different prices?
Through my young adult years, I gave up asking why and tried to conform to what society told me I should be doing. Then, about 10 years ago, feeling like an utter failure in life, I started asking “why?” much more. From there, I vowed to dive into the world head-first and figure out the answers to my own questions.
As a single mom with an ever-changing mix of intrepid trepidation, ingenuity, and naivety, I gave everything away and set out on a journey of discovery. As we moved around, I met people from all walks of life, engaging with them, learning from them, and challenging them. For me, it was like discovering hidden pieces of the puzzle of life.
Once a piece of the puzzle was put into place, it revealed more of the overall picture and showed me the shape of the next pieces I needed to find. As I entered the world of writing, I realized that I could convey the lessons I learned to a wider audience.
My main goal in this endeavor is to create pieces that inspire and eliminate fear. To help them see that we are entering into an amazing period in the evolution of humanity. And, that we should forge ahead with bold wisdom into the 4th industrial revolution and beyond.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
I guess it would be when I discovered the fields of research surrounding transhumanism. From there, I joined the US Transhumanist Party and dove into the politics and societal implications of the various types of transhumanist technology. I even ran in the party’s first Presidential candidate election in 2020 before withdrawing due to previous commitments.
However, that experience really opened my eyes to how ill-prepared the world is to adapt to new technologies for human augmentation. The majority of Science Fiction out there focuses primarily on what can go wrong. In turn, I believe that has had a major impact on societal perceptions of emerging technologies. The permeation of fear is apparent when I talk to people about scientific breakthroughs in human augmentation, such as Neuralink, gene editing, etc.
When the pandemic hit, it drove those points home even deeper. Societies around the world exposed weaknesses in their preparedness for existential crises. The hurdles that stand between where we are right now and where we need to be became abundantly clear. The experiences of the past few years have inspired me to create works that provoke them to think about both the positive and negative aspects of these technologies.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
I have yet to fully overcome my biggest hurdle which is the feeling like no one would care what I have to say because I’m not saying anything new. It’s the biggest motivation-killer for me. There’s always a little voice in the back of my mind that says “You’re just repeating information. You’re a nobody and nobody cares about nobodies. They can go find these ideas from somebody who is a somebody.”
However, deep down I know that this is not true. I tend to forget the feeling of “WOW!” moments when I figure something out. So, I try to keep in mind the times when I brought my perspective to someone and they were inspired by it. There is immense joy in witnessing the “WOW!” moments in others. And that is what inspires me to keep working at sharing my perspectives.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was researching blockchain technology while I was in Tallinn, Estonia, which was the first country to implement a form of blockchain for their government services. I had just started to venture out from ghostwriting blogs and finding my voice as a writer. While researching a piece about blockchain technology, I began to notice what I saw as connections between the company who built the system for Estonia and Satoshi Nakamoto.
So, the piece ended up morphing into my theory that the identity of Satoshi was the group who founded GuardTime. I reached out to Joichi Ito and Mike Gault to see what they had to say. Joichi simply replied with “HA!” Mike Gault never replied, but one of the company’s executives reached out to me confidentially to tell me Mike was visiting the Tallinn office that week and that I should stop by.
So, I did. Unfortunately, I had just missed him. For a short time, the company did have an announcement on their site where they denied that the GuardTime team was Satoshi. I think everyone involved had a bit of a chuckle over the idea.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
By day, I am still a ghostwriter and SEO consultant. But, by night, I invoke my inner optimist to craft Science Faction stories. My passion is examining technology and looking for ways to combine concepts to maximize their benefits to humanity. I feel that looking outside the box can bring new uses to light. Then, I weave these new perspectives into my stories and explore how these new uses may impact society.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
Well, it is currently in development, so I don’t want to give away any spoilers. However, the basic idea for my first screenplay centers on humanity creating a biocomputer implant that uses synthetic DNA to encode/decode sensory information. It is similar in concept to the Brain-Computer Implants (BCI) currently in development. The major difference is it incorporates synthetic DNA strands as an alternative to binary digital information.
The technology allows people to document their entire lives as well as experience the lives of others. All of humanity’s knowledge is now available to everyone. In the story, we will explore how this type of technology may affect society; everything from political influences to the economy to religion.
Of course, it won’t be devoid of exploring some creative complications. For example, what happens if these man-made DNA strands mix with our natural DNA?
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
The key point that I want to make is very simple: As we enter into the 4th industrial revolution, we will encounter challenges humanity has never had to endure before. However, the spirit which drives us to innovate will be our greatest asset to overcoming the challenges of disruption. The more we collectively understand, the better we can collectively work toward mitigating the risks.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Keep your mind hungry, else you will be devoured. Keep learning, keep trying, and intrepidly venture far beyond your comfort zone. If you allow yourself to become stagnant, you may find yourself consumed by regret.
- Remember that even though you may not be creating something entirely new, adding your perspective can change it in such a way that it is entirely new to someone else.
- Find ways to combine old and new concepts in thought-provoking ways. It may sound corny, but I like to put a personal spin on the old superstitious rhyme for a bride on her wedding day: “Something old; Something new; Something borrowed; Something YOU.”
- For some, their niche will be easy to find. For others, it will take some trial and error before they home in on it. And for the very few, you will never find it but that is okay. Because it means your potential is limitless.
- Accept that there are just some people who will not accept your ideas. Think of each criticism as an opportunity to fine-tune your ideas and your perceptions. Life is not black and white. There are a million shades of gray in between.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
I’d love to attribute it to discipline or sheer willpower. For me, it is more like a — sometimes annoyingly loud and persistent — calling. There are times I want to just throw in the towel and settle into obscurity. However, every time I allow myself to sink down and start giving up, I come across some new-to-me idea and the fire inside roars back to life. The desire to persevere almost seems like something beyond myself.
Or, sometimes, I begin to feel isolated as my voice is drowned out by so much… nonsense. I make some mention of an idea on social media and someone argues with me about how stupid I am. Instead of storming off in a rage, I stay and look for opportunities to find common ground. We often eventually find that common ground. I know that one of us is bound to have a “WOW!” moment, even if neither of us admit it. Searching for the “WOW!” moments has really helped me understand different points of view which I aim to incorporate into my writing.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I am not a reader. Nor do I watch a lot of TV shows, movies, YouTube, etc. Instead, I draw inspiration from ideas and perspectives. Innovation is the most inspiring thing for me. Watching humanity forge ahead with bold ideas and solutions to the world’s toughest issues. Even those who denounce such things inspire me.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am currently working on several different movements, including (but not limited to):
Universal Basic Means of Production (UBMoP) — As an advocate of universal basic income, I often discuss the problems people believe implementing such a program could create. I understand both sides of the argument and it drives me to look outside the box to find solutions for mitigating risks and calming fears. With UBMoP, I believe it is a compromise for both sides to get a little of what each want.
By combining several types of currently available technology (3D printing, molecular 3D printing, vertical farming, sharing economy, etc.), we can encourage people to produce more things on an individual or community level. It can reduce poverty, the wealth gap, and our carbon footprint all while promoting new skill development, self-reliance, and reduce the need to raise taxes to fund programs. It is a great start to finding a middle-ground solution that can appeal to opposing opinions as we hash out some of the arguments surrounding UBI.
Using blockchain/crypto to reward people for contributing spare computing power to help scientific and medical research. This is inspired by a crypto created by Berkeley called GridCoin which is connected to Berkeley Open-Infrastructure Network Computing (BOINC). With this network, people can leave their phones/computers on when not in use and help process information for SETI, cancer research, astronomy, and much more.
In fact, I have been incessantly pestering Elon Musk to implement something like this. I believe the connectivity of StarLink and Tesla is a major opportunity to help humanity make new discoveries faster. Additionally, by offering a crypto reward, Musk can passively help alleviate poverty. Hint, hint, Elon!
Forming a more proactive mentality to prepare the US and the world for technologies surrounding transhumanism, space colonization, AI, Quantum Computing, etc. Many experts agree that these technologies are dangerous but should be pursued anyway. I agree with that. Depending on how they are applied, we could find ourselves in a cliché SciFi horror film or in a Star Trek-type society. I prefer the latter and the only way we will get there is if we collectively accept and prepare for the 4th industrial revolution and beyond.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Very simple! Google New World Optimist. 😊 But, I am most active on Twitter as @NewWrldOptimist.
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!