- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (September 23, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781451616835
- ISBN-13: 978-1451616835
- ASIN: 145161683X
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 798 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think Paperback – September 23, 2014
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“I’d like readers to read Abundance, the Peter Diamandis book with his coauthor, because if they did that, they would see that while the headlines are really bad in the world today, the trend lines are pretty good. Extreme poverty is down. [H]ealth care is improving dramatically around the world. There are developments now which make me believe we might be able to do what we did in the 90s which is use technological developments to create more jobs than we lose. For the last few months, for the first time in literally more than a decade, 40 percent of the new jobs have been in higher wage categories. I think people should read this and get some good ideas.” (President Bill Clinton)
“At a moment when our world faces multiple crises and is awash in pessimism, Abundance redirects the conversation, spotlighting scientific innovators working to improve people's lives around the world. The result is more than a portrait of brilliant minds - it's a reminder of the infinite possibilities for doing good when we tap into our own empathy and wisdom.” (Arianna Huffington CEO, Huffington Post)
“This brilliant must-read book provides the key to the coming era of abundance replacing eons of scarcity, a powerful antidote to today’s malaise and pessimism.” (Ray Kurzweil author of The Singularity Is Near)
“Diamandis and Kotler challenge us all to solve humanity’s grand challenges. Innovative small teams are now empowered to accomplish what only governments and large corporations could once achieve. The result is nothing less than the most transformative and thrilling period in human history.” (Timothy Ferris #1 NY Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek)
"Now that human beings communicate so easily, I suspect that nothing can stop the inevitable torrent of new technologies, new ideas and new arrangements that will transform the lives of our children. Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler give us a blinding glimpse of the innovations that are coming our way — and that they are helping to create. This is a vital book."—Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist
“Today, philanthropists, innovators and passionate entrepreneurs are more empowered than ever before to solve humanity’s grand challenges. Abundance chronicles many of these stories and the emerging tools driving us towards an age of abundance. This is an audacious and powerful read!”—Jeff Skoll
“Abundance provides proof that the proper combination of technology, people and capital can meet any grand challenge.”—Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group
"Our future depends on optimists like Diamandis...even the most skeptical readers will come away from Abundance feeling less gloomy." --New York Times Book Review
"A manifesto for the future that is grounded in practical solutions addressing the world's most pressing concerns: overpopulation, food, water, energy, education, health care and freedom. " --The Wall Street Journal
"A breezy case for optimism... Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think...[is] a godsend for those who suffer from Armageddon fatigue." --The Economist
About the Author
Peter H. Diamandis is a New York Times bestselling author, and the founder of more than fifteen high-tech companies. He is the CEO of the XPRIZE (XPrize.org), Exec. Chairman of the Singularity University (SingularityU.org), a Silicon Valley based institution backed by Google, 3D Systems and NASA. He is Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, Inc. and the Cofounder of Human Longevity, Inc. Dr. Diamandis attended MIT, where he received his degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering, and Harvard Medical School, where he received his MD. In 2014 he was named one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” by Fortune magazine.
Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and the Cofounder and Director of Research for the Flow Genome Project (FlowGenomeProject.com). His books include Bold, The Rise of Superman, Abundance, A Small Furry Prayer, West of Jesus, and The Angle Quickest for Flight. His work has been translated into thirty-five languages and his articles have appeared in over seventy publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Wired, Forbes, and Time. He also writes Far Frontiers, a blog about science and innovation for Forbes.com.
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The technologies mentioned in the book are amazing to learn about, but he never quite goes into enough detail for you to understand said technologies. It is a light read, definitely focused on looking pretty, scratching the surface, making sure you don't get bored.
I think he wanted to sound like an educator, but ended up just sounding like a used car salesman for "sustainable enterprises" and "abundance". You hear a lot of buzzwords in this book, way more than necessary.
Towards the end of the book, it gets more informative, and there are pages and pages of graphs, charts, and all that good stuff. In between, more writing, and you start to think that you got a break from being sold something. But of course, at the end of the book, you can find out where to go if you wanna be "coached" by Diamandis, or join his university, or find out about his xprize. There certainly is an "abundance" of mentions of his products and self advertisement.
But I had issues with the book I couldn't ignore, and I felt these lowered its value. One was the lengthy section at the start of the book that states negative outlooks are the result of evolution. It felt like a built in response to critics, where people who disagree with the author don't have valid reasons or concerns. Instead their opinions are the result of biology.
Another big concern was how some technologies listed in the book haven't come to fruition in the years since it was printed. A good example is the water purification system Slingshot. I'd read about this invention in Popular Science many years ago and marveled at how it could change the world. Since then there have been new desalination plants built in arid parts of the world, but using membrane filters, not Slingshot. This wonder technology never reached the open market. Other developments in this book are also not yet available.
This isn't a new phenomenon. I was a freshman in high school in 1990 when I first heard of embryonic stem cells, and how one day they would make the blind see, the crippled walk and cure all manner of diseases. All it would take is 5-10 years and adequate funding. In the year 2000 the story was the same, with hope being 5-10 years out, provided there was funding. 2010 brought the same claims, and today after nearly 30 years the blind do not see, the crippled do not walk, and diseases this wonder cure was supposed to fix remain as bad as they were in 1990. Many new technologies fail to pan out like this, so promising a better future based on today's lab work is speculative.
The author stated we must be more open to risk, and used the X Prize as proof how incentives can bring about leaps in technology. This may be the case, but the author didn't risk anything by making the X Prize. He borrowed other men's reputations to promote it and other men's wealth to fund it. Nor did he help in any of the competing research team's work or funding. The author threw down the gauntlet and waited for good things to happen from other people taking risks with their time, money, reputations, and potentially with their lives.
Near the end of the book is a section on what could go wrong in the rapidly advancing society the author seeks. I respect him for mentioning potential downsides to his vision of the future. I believe, though, that he minimizes some of these risks, especially in regards to biological attacks. He stated viruses can only spread as fast as men can travel, as if it was a limiting factor regarding the spread of disease. Air travel means a man can cross the world in less than a day, bringing with him any disease he carries and spreading it to millions of new hosts. If a bio terror attack occurred in Midway Airport in Chicago and infected passengers in the main terminal with a disease like the 1918 flu, it would spread to every inhabited continent within a day's time, and the 50 million death toll from 1918 could be dwarfed by the resulting loss of life. The author claimed in the same section that we could provide rapid and effective treatment if a pandemic occurred, yet stated a few pages earlier that the bird flu vaccine rushed into service was ineffective. Both statements cannot be true, and when the second one is a fact we must assume the first is blind optimism.
I am an optimist, although I can see why you wouldn't think so by reading this review, but I am not blindly optimistic. There is ample evidence that technology will continue to advance, but there are plenty of cases like embryonic stem cells where money and hard work don't lead to the kind of breakthroughs predicted in this book. I believe we as a people will continue to advance, but some of the claims in this book are no different than people in the 1950s thinking we'd have flying cars in the 1980s.
Hopefully, a world of abundance may be in the offing, but only if we act with wisdom and maturity.