39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2013
It is a loose collection of good news you might have overlooked. They cite Pinker and Kurzweil.
However, some of their logic made my hair stand on end. For example, they argue that the fuss over acid rain was a chicken little needless panic. because none of the terrible predicted things happened. They fail to notice that governments and industries made massive changes to improve the situation.
They argue that because people tend to pay more attention to bad news than good, all the global problems we worry about must be phantoms. That is a non-sequitur.
They waxed poetic about how wonderful life will be when we can produce McFood 100 times more efficiently.
The cited Japanese robotic factories as what we should aspire to in our personal lives.
Their Utopian vision is a Koch brothers wet dream, billions of docile humanoids, packed like sardines, consuming artificial everything, not a living thing left, whose prime directive is corporate profit. This book is collection of corporate excuses for raping the environment.
If you want a thoughtful and optimistic view, read the original Pinker and Kurzweil.
42 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2012
This author's Abundance thesis depends entirely on geometric, or exponential, growth - as illustrated in his graphical Reference 80 (on page 292) where such growth is seen to arrive exponentially from a cascade of S-curves. But it is very well established that S-curves, which are the dominant feature of technology growth, are actually composed of a sequence of interrupted exponential segments having diminishing growth rates as time progresses, a complete inversion of origin compared to what these authors claim.
They may have fallen into this trap by virtue of being enthralled by Moore's Law. Unfortunately Moore's Law applies to an engineering parameter of what economists call 'intermediate goods'. What the authors needed to consider more carefully is the diffusion of final goods - and that's quite a different proposition, and much slower. It is behind the critique provided by Rob Atkinson during Tom Ashbrook's WBUR radio On Point review 'Will Innovation Save Us - 02/29/12' with author Peter Diamandis.
And a clue to the poor scholarship of Abundance occurs very early, at the beginning of Chapter One (page 3) in 'The Lesson of Aluminum'. Whether it is true or not that the ancients knew how to extract aluminum is less important than that these authors, in view of what it has actually taken in modern times to extract aluminum, consider the claim unremarkable. I was incredulous and you should be too. But the authors accept it without citation.
We need optimism, but it needs to have a better basis than this.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2014
The basic premise of Abundance is that there are a lot of problems in the world, and its hard to get people to change, but the right technological innovations will fix everything.
As someone who notices many of the same problems in the world, I want to believe the authors' assertions. And the book inspired me! The characters and anecdotes are appealing. I finished the book feeling nagged by a few big holes, but overall excited.
Unfortunately, in reflection the excitement wore off. There are plenty of technical problems with the book – for instance, a few of the stories (computer education in the villages, do-everything water filters) are exaggerated and don't pan out as well in the real world. Devoting a major pillar of the book to the author's own X-prizes project was lame. Wasting a whole chapter on the claim that all their opponents are just deluded by their brain chemistry was a waste of space. But the real difficulties are fundamental philosophical problems with expecting technology to change the world.
First off, the human tendency toward greed has proven able to absorb anything it's been given. Everyone always wants more. The idea that we could produce so much that the rich people would be satisfied and let the poor have enough, without major society changes, doesn't fit with any period in human history. The powerful have always been able to limit other people's access to resources whenever it benefited them, and the authors never explain how they'd keep powerful corporations and powerful governments from continuing to do such a thing. On occasion they allude to such problems (such as Monsanto's wield of patents to force farmers to be reliant on their products indefinitely), but they just “hope” such things will change.
Second, the degree to which wealth disparity, rather than absolute wealth alone, contributes to societal problems is never dealt with. Problems like violence and mental health appear not to be connected just to a nation's overall resources, but to its ability to deal out those resources evenly. That's one reason that Americans are less happy now than we were in the 1950s and 1960s (despite having FAR more stuff, including all the innovations the authors praise), and why many countries – including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, etc. - do better than America an d England on nearly every social index despite having far less money at their disposal. The authors don't deal with that issue at all.
Finally, the book shows absolutely no real interest in the people and things that the authors claim to be trying to preserve. They want to solve poverty, yet don't show any knowledge of the experience of the poor or any desire to ask them what they want. They want to save the environment, but everything they propose is irrelevant to and often disregarding of nature. They want to preserve land, but seem to think they could do that by just destroying small bits of land more efficiently, and hope that other land will be saved in the process. In general, they reach for technological numbers and statistics, but completely ignore the much greater damage to human societal structures and the Earth's environmental balance that are caused by both previous technological "advancements" and their own proposed technological "solutions".
As long as the people with power are obsessed with the greed for more things, they will continue abusing the poor, nature, and the land in order to satisfy their greed. Technology is neutral – no matter what you invent, the powerful aren't going to give up their desire to own more than everyone else, to possess the land, to control other peoples' lives. The authors are right that greed is part of the problem. They're right that people's nature is difficult to change. They're wrong that we can just hope that enough technology will just make that issue go away. It has never, ever worked before.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Definitely two stars here for the topic and some scattered info on things that could improve life on this planet (Dean Kamen's water extracting device; urban farming;in vitro protein food). That alone could have made this book great but in actuality it could have been 30 pages long.
Here are sections that were just filler:
-Chapter Three and Four.
These sections just go on about people being too pessimistic about the future. Though sometimes that may true I dont see why it required to thick chapters on it, when it could have been two sentences.
-All of Part Six.
This was confusing. I thought there already were solutions to these problems but now Diamandis and Kotler spend a silly amount of time talking about incentives to make inventions and dealing with failure when they dont work. All valid points but at best worth a paragraph or two.
I have to say I was reminded of going to some get rich quick seminar where you find out the the secrets are being positive and not being deterred. Gee, let me make note of that.
Though well intentioned I believe the authors are just caught up in the futurism movement and see a chance to write a book on the topic without following through. They know people will read it because of the great topic.
They also go way off topic (space travel?? nice to know you worked in that area but I can't think of a more wasteful use of resources right now) and contradict themselves (well the solutions for distributing water are a ways off so in the mean time just take shorter showers).
They also tiptoe around the gorilla in the room: rich and powerful people have a long history of not only blocking advancements they cannot benefit from but also exploiting the working class and corrupting technological advancements (eg: Monsanto/UnionCarbide, Apple, and pretty much the whole free enterprise sector). There may be some steps made to advance things in the future but until we figure out this greed problem and lack of human compassion i think we are on a hamster wheel. [granted the book does make note of disruptive technologies but doesnt spend much time on it].
The tipping point for me was the authors own definition of abundance. In the first sections they point out that people won't be able to live like Donald Trump but will have enough to get by. So in other words there will still be a sliver of people living luxiourious lives while the masses will still have enough somehow to get by. I thought abundance meant you had more than enough. I guess they think differently. But calling the book "Dont worry you will survive somehow but don't expect to ever live the fancy life" would fly.
In a word, I would say this book is uninspiring. If you already think of yourself as a futurist (i do), you can get by this and just take it for a few scraps of useful info. But in general I can't see this book being enough to make people see a better future.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2012
I admire the enthusiasm of this book. But it glosses over the gargantuan practical issues with all these gee-whiz technologies - mostly cost and nuts and bolts real world applications. No way solar or algae have the slightest chance of being anything more than minor players in global energy usage - but it sure "sounds" great. Same thing down the line - lots of things that "sound" great, but are wholly uneconomic or impractical, now or in the future...
62 of 89 people found the following review helpful
'Abundance' is predominantly an extension of Ray Kurzweil's 'The Singularity is Near' and Mr. Kurzweil's belief that the growing capability of digital analysis and tools is going to follow an exponential path. Per authors Kotler and Diamandis progress in AI, robotics, computing, broad-band, nanotech, etc. will progress faster in the next two decades than in the prior two hundred.
My initial reaction - 'So what?' Robotics, AI, nanotech, etc. are newborns that essentially didn't even exist 20 years ago. Secondly, some of their second-hand ideas (eg. vertical farming) are far-fetched, and that's putting it politely.
As for their positive expectations in education - hardly a day has passed in the last four decades that didn't bring the announcement of some new approach or research offering significant improvements. (Some of the education 'innovations' highlighted decades ago and then discarded are now making a comeback - its almost comical.) Obviously, something happened between promise and reality. The latest sources of excitement for the authors - use of computers, tablets, the Internet, interactive software, have mostly already been around for a number of years, with very little or no benefit. If you really want to improve pupil performance, the 'How?' has been obvious for decades - emulate the East Asians and work far, far, harder and with greater pupil and parental commitment.
Over to health care - . The far biggest problem with American health care is not inadequate technology, but instead the self-serving payment system for providers that encourages excess treatment. Knowledge already exists in several areas, eg. treatment of low-back pain, that clearly concludes various treatments are NOT useful, yet profit-maximizing providers continue to ignore that evidence. Changing to a reimbursement/expenditure-limiting system such as in Japan, Taiwan, and other nations would offer immediate potential for about 50% cost reduction, even more if a single-payer system was also implemented.
The 'Da Vinci' robot is posited as a means of sharply reducing health care costs for eg. cataracts. Simpler alternative - copy the best practices in India's 'focused-factories' that provide eye-care, others that provide cardiac care, etc. - all at far, far, far lower cost than in the U.S., and with superior patient outcomes. Da Vinci is NOT needed.
DNA sequencing has been promoted as the 'new hope' for improving medicine. Reality - most of the benefits to-date have been limited to patients learning that they did (or did not) have a gene predisposing them to increased likelihood of Alzheimer's (or producing autistic children) - so what? Nobody knows what to do with that new knowledge once they have it. And now 'Scientific American' tells us (current issue) that 'jumping genes' are also important - same old story, the more we know, the more we realize we don't know. Is there a nearby point of significant benefit? I don't know, and I doubt Kotler and Diamandis do either.
'Global Warming' is the 'latest threat' to significantly improving the future of world inhabitants. 'Abundance' has very little to offer on this topic, except to pronounce that our energy problems will be 'solved' via 100% sourced solar energy in 18 years - without any documentation whatsoever, let alone credible documentation. (Even the Chinese leader of the world's largest solar-energy firm doesn't begin to verbalize such enthusiasm!)
Providing care for the elderly is a growing concern addressed in the book - again, with a high-technology. Alternatively, I'd suggest instead looking to Asia, where it has become common, even expected, that one's elderly relatives will live with and be taken care of, by their younger descendants.
I am, on the other hand, looking forward to IBM's Watson and the contributions it can bring to clinicians - autopsies reveal scandalous rates of diagnostic and treatment errors. As for computerized 'reading' of X-rays, imaging, lab samples - please, let's have much, much more. But let's also not delude ourselves that these new products will bring anywhere near the level of improvement that health care needs.
'Abundance' is also oblivious to our seriously dysfunctional government - that's why our economy, health care, and military sectors are such a mess, and why we also have our enormous, unsustainable deficits. The authors also don't address how this envisioned utopia's new economy would function, given that so few would supposedly be needed to actually perform useful work.
Bottom-Line: 'Abundance' really is almost entirely over-hyped, sophomoric hyperbole. Worse yet, it encourages a 'Mad Magazine - Why Worry' ignoring of major problems. Finally, they also neglected to address serious potential outcomes of new technology - creation and dissemination of new diseases, new low-cost defenses against America's military (China and Iran are already far down that road), and making terrorism easier.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Sadly naive and non-technical, gushing about Gen 4 nuclear power safety, and many (any) other highly speculative technologies, always just 4-10 years away. Reads like Popular Science of the 50's and 60's, all fluff and gushingly positive. There's also a lot of promotion of the uber wealthy with their pathetic small scale philanthropy; it seems the path to the future is easy, just sit back and let the uber wealthy guide us. The lack of any real technical depth or critical analysis, either technical or social, is very disappointing.
Dr Lionel's review on this book (one star) is on point.
Kurtzweil's "The Singularity is Near" is far superior, if you want to tint the future via techno-vision and rose colored.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2014
I love techie books. I have been avidly devouring them for decades and I admire their naïve optimism and enthusiasm. They are great for giving you a heads up on what new stuff may be coming through the development pipeline. However as realistic predictors of the future they usually fall woefully short of even barely adequate. This is how I would rate “Abundance”; a great update from techie America but a hopelessly inadequate vision of the future. Unfortunately that’s what the authors tout it as; a utopian vision of a wonderful new world where technology made in America by the private sector and backed by a new breed of technology philanthropists has not only miraculously solved all the world’s intractable problems but has also made everyone rich and happy. Perhaps those of us who were brought up on promises that we would all be living in Jetson cities with floating towers and flying cars by 2000 and that nuclear power would be “too cheap to meter” could be forgiven a modicum of scepticism. And that’s before we remember the paperless office and the 30 hour work week that computers were going to deliver.
The authors cleverly try to influence us to commit to their “optimism” right at the start by explaining heuristics and how we are mentally programmed to expect and unquestioningly accept “bad” news and ignore the positive. This is a smart move and it seems to have worked on a lot of people judging by this book’s general reception. One could equally argue that humans are over optimistic in many respects and slow to accept evidence if it conflicts with their underlying and preferred beliefs or self-interest. The resistance to evidence for climate change is a clear example of this.
This book is by no means a complete dog. It gives a great summary of the most recent developments in primarily American technology and also gives us a timely reminder that there has been lots of positive progress in the human condition over the last fifty or so years. Moreover there is indeed just cause to believe that the future will include many positive technological advances that we will embrace and which will enrich both our lives and some very smart business people. Some developments may even help the world’s poorest as well as American industry as the authors claim. However whatever that future may be it won’t change the fact that this book is very long on enthusiasm and self-promotion and very short on robust debate and quality analysis.
For starters there is only a very superficial once-over-lightly definition of the world’s major problems. Most their highly simplistic problem definition deals with the human condition but almost none of it deals with the condition of the planet which is a far greater challenge and in the end will hugely affect humans. They gloss over the sheer scale, interconnectedness and complexity of the planets ecosystems and the extent to which humans and technology have disrupted these systems. To be fair on the authors they don’t totally ignore these questions or deny them but their glib propositions that more of the same technology poison which caused the problems in the first place will make it all fine is a little short on credibility.
Their solution for the human condition also ignores the extent to which the behaviour of people, corporations and governments influence outcomes. Their assumption is that in future everyone will co-operate, act rationally and ignore self and vested interest for the common good. Anyone who has witnessed the excruciatingly slow progress which comes out of the international convention circuit would have to be deeply sceptical of this. Humans have always been their own worst enemy and why this should miraculously change in the next two decades is never adequately explained. There is a vague notion of some worldwide “singularity” where exponential growth in knowledge and universal access to the internet and mobile phones will suddenly solve all the world’s major problems. The authors conveniently ignore the role the internet plays in porn, terrorism and crime and the vast store of low quality or useless information it contains.
The overriding impression one gets from almost every page is astonishingly glib statements where every problem no matter how difficult or entrenched it may be is solved in double quick time and at minimal cost by altruistic entrepreneurs. Massive obstacles whether technological, financial, cultural, logistical or the limitations of the laws of physics are simply glossed over in a sentence or two. There is almost no rational discussion of the realistic development pathways of any of these new technologies or even the most superficial analysis of the obstacles they face or the alternatives, pro and cons or risks of introducing them. The merits of growing cultured meat in giant vats or developing a mass market for human organs, just two of the many monster ethical issues that would emerge from all this, barely rates a mention.
And there is hardly a mention of unintended consequences. Who would have thought that air conditioning would threaten the ozone layer or that PCB’s would poison us? We try to cope with this uncertainty with a complex and cumbersome system of approvals and certifications which slows technology down, drives industry nuts and still doesn’t really work. (Presumably the authors would just dispense with all this bureaucratic clutter and let the free market reign unfettered). Unintended consequences are one of the few certainties of fast paced technology but the alarming thing is we have no way of knowing what they might be. In the authors’ world the precautionary principle goes right out the window.
This book is also a hard sell for the authors’ own initiatives such as the X-Prize and the Singularity University and it shamelessly name drops around the American philanthropy and technology world. It pushes a strong private enterprise line and the role of government funding and institutions is almost completely ignored except where they have been used as an example of snail-paced progress in relation to the dynamism and energy of private individuals. It glosses over the fact that many of our biggest technological advances (nuclear physics, computers, genomics, the internet, GPS to name just a few) all began as public projects. A reasoned analysis of the role of government in innovation and the progress of major government programmes would have been very useful. It is also a very American view of the world. In this future of technological nirvana Europe and Asia barely rate a mention as innovators.
The author’s emphasis on “optimism” ignores and undermines the essential role in society of the “early warning”. Usually these people are labelled “doom casters” and their message is dismissed or undermined. However in many instances these warnings come from legitimate scientists who are working at the cutting edge of knowledge and are putting forward genuine concerns. It is from these scientific sources that the green movement emerged and subsequently massively influenced public policy to the good. The world needs these people as much as the optimists and in many cases they are the innovators in technological and social systems. We don’t need a world of Pollyanna optimists any more than we need a world of defeated pessimists. What we need are brave and persistent realists who can identify our problems and their causes, work on those problems and come up with durable solutions.
This book falls well short of describing a realistic future. But it is an interesting and entertaining read all the same. With a few dozen organ transplants I should still be around to see how it all pans out over the next 50 years.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The authors are totally right: attitude is everything. We can get through this mess we've created, and we probably will.
But the zealous, uncritical celebration of all things technological and disruptive takes it too far. As a graduate of the MIT Media Lab I am familiar with a brand of pumped-up utopianism surrounding world-changing technologies. This is the familiar voice of highly-funded technology institutions.
When the authors launched into a semi-politicized, whole-hearted acceptance of genetically-modified foods, my opinion of the book took a nose dive. This is a controversial subject; highly debated by people all over the world. Our 3-billion-year-old biosphere has refined the code of life in ways that we barely understand yet. We arose from it, and we rely on it for our survival. It deserves our reverence as we fiddle with it to fuel our insane population growth. The authors should not have taken a partisan stand on this issue.
The book also emphasizes celebrities like Ray Kurzweil and Craig Venter in a predictable way. The story of abundance involves more than the obvious line up of Hollywood stars.
Overall, I think this is a worthy book, full of good factoids, observations. It has a good overall message.
We will get through this mess, and technology will be an important factor. But a little more reverence for the natural balance of things would have been appreciated. For instance, I think the solution to most of these problems would be for us to keep our population low. Not easy to implement, I know...but easy to understand, and logically a no-brainer. I think Earth would prefer that.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I find it odd that this book has gotten a customer rating of about 4.5 stars, while Ray Kurzweil's vastly superior book, The Singularity Is Near, has received half a star less, with many more negative reviews. I can only attribute this to the fact that this book skirts around the deep scientific understanding required for mastery of this topic, as well as avoiding the profound and disturbing challenges posed by exponentially advancing technology, all topics which Kurzweil addresses head-on. The result with "Abundance" is a feel-good book more full of fluff than actual content.
Let's start with the positives about this book: I certainly agree with the overall premise of the book that technological progress is advancing exponentially and that it will affect the world in profound ways in the not-too-distant future. I am also happy that the authors have wrested the term "abundance" away from the "Law of Attraction" cultists who imply that all one needs to do to solve one's problems is to think happy thoughts. For that, the authors are to be congratulated.
What I object to is the focus of the book, which seems to be disproportionately centered on the third world, especially Africa, often to the detriment of the more immediate concerns of its readers. Certainly, Africa is an important topic, but focusing this book primarily on this one region of the world is a bit myopic. Not only that, it is patronizing, because it carries with it the insinuation that Africans are unable to solve their own problems and must rely on Western aid to do it for them.
In reading the book one's attention is constantly brought back to Africa. Advancing technologies will feed Africa's hungry. Advancing technologies will provide Africans with shelter. Essentially, advancing technologies will save Africans from themselves. Africa is a continent that is bursting with riches - gold, Iron and minerals, not to mention an abundance of wildlife - so one wonders why, in light of all this, Africa is in such a sorry state to begin with.
It is true that Africa has more problems than the first world, but America has its fair share of concerns as well - high crime, poverty, disease, crumbling cities, urban sprawl, pollution and a whole host of other issues. To read this book, however, one is led to the conclusion that what matters most is how galloping technological advancement is going to benefit the Third World. This is a little like going to a fortune teller to find out what your future holds and hearing for 90 minutes not of your problems but on those half a continent away. Needless to say, it would leave you feeling ripped off.
It's fine for this book to have its own particular focus, but the title should at least be honest about it. As it is, the subtitle should read, "The Future of THE DEVELOPING WORLD Is Better Than You Think."
The book reads a little bit like a dumbed-down version of Kurzweil's The Singularity Is Near, but with a much narrower focus. It's written more at a high school level, while Kurzweil's is more at a college level, and Kurzweil gets much more into the science behind the topics he discusses. Call this book "The Singularity Is Near For Dummies."
What's worse, some of the suggestions given in this book are dubious at best. For example, far too much attention is focused on the subject of "vertical farming," the questionable concept of stacking farms in skyscrapers, which leads to the obvious logistical problems of how the crops are going to get enough water and sunlight, not to mention the expense and the obvious lack of stability such structures would have (this reminds me a little of the misguided predictions of underwater farming of the 1960s).
Another dubious assertion is how computers are going to transform the future of education. Such claims were made in the 1960s and early `70s about so-called "programmed learning," in the 1980s when the inexpensive Commodore 64 came out, in the `90s with the advent of CD-ROMs and in the current era with the iPad.
Other focuses of the book are strange as well. The authors are fond of saying "A Masai warrior with a cell phone has better mobile phone capabilities than the president of the United States did twenty-five years ago."
A Masai WHAT?! WARRIOR?! So these technologies make him a more efficient killer?
There is too much focus on the importance of cell phones overall. For example, India has more cell phones than private toilets. I am not sure that this says as much about the impact of cell phones as it does about misplaced priorities.
The proliferation of smart phones in Africa and easy access to the world's information did not keep Africans from insisting that the current Ebola epidemic was caused by an evil western conspiracy to kill them off, or that eating monkey meat had nothing to do with the disease, or that witchcraft is the way to cure it. I guess the lesson to be learned here is that you just can't fix stupid.
Certainly, smartphones are important, but they are less so in and of themselves than they are in pointing to more powerful technologies that are coming in the future.
What's even more unforgivable is that the book gives short shrift to the key role of artificial intelligence in advancing technology. Do a search for "artificial intelligence" or "AI" in this book and you will come up with only about 40 matches, while a search for "Africa" brings up at least 99 (which seems to be the Kindle's search limit, at least on the desktop version).
I am sure that Diamandis, as cofounder of Singularity University, understands the importance of artificial intelligence, so I do not understand why he gives such short shrift to the topic in this book.
This is a little like reading a book from 50 years ago on the future of computers that predicts that one day "the computer will be "used widely in business" without mentioning the profound impact computers will have on every aspect of society.
Perhaps the authors realize that a lot of people are terrified by the idea of strong artificial intelligence, and so they left such discussions out of what is essentially a "feel good" book. Perhaps also, for political correctness reasons, they are wary of suggesting that what Africa needs most is an influx of intelligence, whether artificial or otherwise.
There are also profound perils associated with galloping technologies, to which Kurzweil devotes an entire chapter--rogue AI, biological terrorism and out-of-control nanobots (not to mention rampant unemployment) which are relegated to a small section in the appendix of "Abundance."
Even as far as Africa is concerned, some of the suggestions in the book are highly dubious at best, such as in praising an effort to reward African dictators who voluntarily leave office when their term expires - essentially bribing them to do the right thing. Indeed, the most distressing thing about this book is how often it suggests diverting funds to dubious causes rather than those that will do the most good.
Aid to Africa all too often goes into the pockets of corrupt dictators rather than those it was meant to help. Bill Gates could be doing a lot more good by donating his billions to research institutions working to cure diseases that affect the whole world rather than into stopgap measures designed to save Africans from themselves.
The authors suggest that technologies developed to help Africa will someday benefit the rest of the world as well, something that I call the "trickle-up theory." But accomplished AI researcher Ben Goertzel has suggested that technological progress could come much faster if more funds were devoted to the research areas that are likely to prove the most fruitful. Certainly, suggesting that pouring billions into Africa is the best way to solve the world's problems does not aid in this cause.
I have to give this book two stars simply because of Diamandis' tremendous work in establishing Singularity University as well as the X Prize Foundation but I have to subtract three stars because of the book's sadly misguided focus.
If you can only read one book on this topic I would suggest you read Kurzweil's The Singularity Is Near. If you have already read "Abundance," I would suggest you immediately follow it up with Kurzweil's book.