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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.
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This book is about potential. Some of what the authors predict for us appears to be inevitable but much of it will require intentional design and effort.
The authors envision a world where our biggest problems are solved in record time. They see technology advance and feed people, bring about a revolution in medical treatment for all including the poorest on earth, provide clean water for all and solve environmental problems that seem to us too big to solve.
To be sure the book is idealistic. They take a best-case scenario in many ways. In the appendix, they devote a few pages to the potential for technological abuse and the darker side of it all, but for the most part they predict a better world for everyone with abundance within everyone’s reach.
The book explores artificial intelligence and its vast potential to change the way we do almost everything; advances in agriculture including vertical farming, the real promise of an abundance of energy from solar, wind, and safe nuclear power; a transformation of education around the world to eliminate poverty and advance freedom; and a dozen other amazing potentials to make the world a better place.
I've been paralyzed by fear and pessimism. Although I've been following technology development and predictions with periodic excitement, I've been fixated on poverty, unemployment, growing private debt, growing sovereign debt, terrorism, natural disasters, infectious disease, etc. I now blame it on my amygdala (see page 32).
After reading Abundance, I began thinking that human civilization might be moving closer towards a connect-and-collaborate, post-scarcity, near-utopia. An unlucky, small percentage of people will have a declining standard of living or will be harmed or killed by disruptive new technology (perhaps me, but that's okay!)
The forces of good change: exponential technologies in the hands of DIY innovators, social entrepreneurs, technophilanthropists, and "the rising billion" (who can leapfrog legacy technology and go right to better technology and more ecologically-sustainable technology).
Major topics: Seeing the Forest Through the Trees; It's Not as Bad as You Think; The Tools of Cooperation; Water; Food; Energy; Education; Health Care; Freedom; Driving Innovation and Breakthroughs; Risk and Failure.
Human life and the global economy are not a zero-sum game.
Catallaxy (economic/occupational specialization), automation, and ecologically-sustainable technology can provide abundant resources for all of humanity.
Natural resources are presently being wasted (used inefficiently and ineffectively, and are being transformed into less useful byproducts). But knowledge of more efficient and effective processes is being spread, and recycling technology (especially recycling nanotechnology) and harvesting solar energy have the potential to provide plenty of useful matter and energy for billions of people indefinitely (and certainly at least until space colonization ramps up).
The technology is easily within reach.
The biggest challenge to post-scarcity and sustainability is not technology, but pessimism and people wasting their TIME being afraid; complaining; being unproductive; being counter-productive; and poisoning the minds of others with pessimism.
Some quotes from the book:
"[...people seriously overestimate themselves and significantly underestimate the world at large]" (pg. 31)
"We're control fiends and are more optimistic about things we can control" (pg. 31)
Have some faith in other people; have some faith in yourself; connect; collaborate; and contribute.
Abundance has a few factual errors and typos.
One error is: the authors present an apocryphal story about aluminum being extracted and purified thousands of years ago as if it were fact; the authors may understand current and near-future technology pretty well, but they are terrible historians!
A shortcoming of Abundance is that it doesn't sufficiently address the issue of how "exponential technology" affects human labor markets.
If you're aware of a book, website, etc. that addresses this issue please leave me a comment about it.
The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future
Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy
Gives you so much optimism about the future
- and makes you think about opportunities for
It is an excellent place to start for anyone
interested in exponential technologies, the
future, artificial intelligence, global social
issues or business.
I had actually already read 'The Singularity is
Near' by Ray Kurzweil and some other books
in the field which covers much of the same
Kurwzweil's is more in depth but for
a clear summary of the bottom line impacts
and opportunities this is the better choice.
Basically, the best starting point.