In Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler argue that, despite the problems that our technology has recently created (including dwindling resources and global warming), we needn’t discard our techno-optimism after all. Indeed, according to Diamandis, the world is on the precipice of another explosion in technology that will soon bring refuge from many of our current problems, and abundance to our doorstep.
Not content to let the goal or the timeline remain vague, Diamandis is happy to hang a more precise definition on each. When it comes to abundance, Diamandis defines it as a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and non-polluting, ubiquitous energy, and, to top it all off, the freedom to pursue their goals unhindered by political repression.
With regards to the timeline, Diamandis claims that it should be achievable in the next 10 to 25 years. In an attempt to convince us that this goal is achievable Diamandis take us through the latest technological developments (and those that will soon be coming down the pipe) in numerous fields such as water filtration and sanitation (including advancements in water desalination); food production (including vertical farming); education (including personalized education); energy (including solar, wind, nuclear and algal biofuel); healthcare (including stem cell therapy and organ creation)and many, many more.
According to Diamandis, the technological innovations mentioned above are being spurred on by 3 forces in particular these days that are likely to bring us to a state of abundance even quicker than we might otherwise expect, and one that extends to all parts of the world.
The 3 forces are, 1) the rise of the bottom billion which consists in the fact that the world poorest have recently begun plugging into the world economy in a very substantial way, both as a consumer and as a producer of goods (largely as a result of the communications revolution, and the fact that cell phones are now spreading even to the world poorest populations 2) the rising phenomenon of the techphilanthropists – a new breed of wealthy individuals who are more philanthropic than ever, and who are applying their efforts to global solutions (and particularly in the developing world); and 3) the rising phenomenon of DIY innovation which includes the ability of small organizations, and even individuals to make contributions even in the most advanced technological domains (such as computing, biotechnology, and even space travel.
With regards to this last force, part of Diamandis’ purpose here is to inspire the layperson to enter the fray with their own contributions towards abundance by way of joining one of the numerous open-source innovation projects available online, or throwing their hand into one of the many incentivized technological prizes in existence, or in some other manner of their own devising.
In this regard, the authors are very successful, as the work is both invigorating and inspiring, and I highly recommend it.