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Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think Hardcover – 21 Feb 2012
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“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, inventor, author and futurist, author of The Singularity is Near
"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
“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 Ferriss, #1 NY Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek
“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
“In Abundance: Why the Future is Better Than You Think, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler offer a vision of the future that’s truly awesome in both the most traditional and modern understandings of the word; it’s as big as it as awe inspiring.” –The Futurist
"Abundance is not fantasy. It is a tale, say authors Diamandis and Kotler, of “good news;” a spritely and exciting collection of reasons why, despite the ever-constant refrain that Earth is on the verge of disaster, we must stay positive." --Christian Science Monitor
" Enough with the dystopian fiction and Mayan end-of-the-world predictions! According to tech entrepeneur and philanthropist Peter Diamandis and science writer Steven Kotler, things are getting better, not worse. " --USA Today
"[Abundance is] fascinating and inspirational -- every politician should read it (but sadly that may be too much to hope for!)" --Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, UK
"Welcome to the feel good future." -Smithsonian
"A nice reminder of how far we’ve come." --The New York Times Book Review
“Curious what the future will look like? This books talks about what lies ahead, providing practical solutions for concerns like overpopulation, food, water, energy, freedom and health care.”-Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Peter H. Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, co-founder and Chairman of Singularity University and the founder of more than a dozen high tech companies. Diamandis has degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering from MIT, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.
Steven Kotler is an author and journalist. His books include A Small Furry Prayer, West of Jesus, and The Angle Quickest for Flight. His articles have appeared in more than sixty publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Wired, Discover, GQ, and National Geographic. He also writes a regular blog for PsychologyToday.com.
Top customer reviews
A book to read certainly.
Take, for example, energy, "arguably the most important lynchpin for abundance" (p.156): where is all the energy going to come from? The authors explore three options: solar and photovoltaics, synthetic biofuels and "fourth generation" nuclear power. Of these, they argue, solar has the most potential: "The German Aerospace Centre estimates that the solar power in the deserts of North Africa is enough to supply forty times the present world electricity demand" (p.157). The chapter unpacks each of these three energy sources as well as outlining other significant technical developments, which will enhance these, such as Liquid Metal Battery technologies which promise to enable us store clean energy; and development of "an intelligent network of power lines, switches and sensors able to monitor and control energy down to the. Level of a single lightbulb" (p.169).
Alongside discussion of the developments in these key areas, the authors outline four key drivers of technological progress:
The DIY Innovator - collaboration through e Internet means that small groups are far more powerful than ever before. On the Wikipedia principle, it is possible for enthusiasts and experts to work together to solve problems more efficiently than is possible in large corporations.
The Technophilanthropists - Billionaire philanthropists, such as Microsoft's Bill Gates and eBay's founder Pierre Omidyar, are pouring resources into solving many of the world's problems on a scale that previously was possible only at a Governmental level. Unlike e Mega-rich philanthropists of the past (Rockefeller, Vanderbilt Carnegie et al) the current breed are young and see the world (as opposed to NYC/USA as their stage).
The Rising Billion - "the bottom billion" (= four billion people) are becoming connected and are set to be net economic contributors and consumers in the next two decades.
The Power of Incentive Competitions - competitions with large prizes put up by philanthropists have a long history of promoting innovation and technological break-throughs. (Here Peter Diamandis is plugging the X-PRIZE of which he is the founder and CEO, but the argument is nevertheless an interesting one.
The World of Abundance:
The world of Abundance is one where all are fed and watered and there is enough power that we can start to clean up the planet by removing carbon from the atmosphere or to think about investigating Space seriously. People will continue to get healthier as medicine becomes "predictive, personalised, preventive and participatory" (= P4 medicine; p.201-3); X-ray machines will be the size of a suitcase (p.194), spare organs will be 3-D printed or cultivated to order from stem cells (p.200-1) and most, if not all Blue-collar work will be taken over by robots, including care of the elderly (how do you feel about the prospect of "robo-nurse"?). Robots will also perform routine, repetitive operations (e.g. Cataract p.197).
In the context of such abundantly interesting read, the chapter on Education was a little disappointing, but that's perhaps only because it was the area with which I am most familiar. The authors retrace the New Delhi hole-in-the-wall research, Negroponte's One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative, before regurgitating Sir Ken Robinson's critique of the present educational system (see Sir Ken's TED talk "Schools kill Creativity").
Learning like Video Games
However, there is an eloquent argument that "we need to make learning a lot more like video games and a lot less like school" (p.183). Indeed there may be much to learn from the ways in which Game Designers motivate gamers and reward success. Game designers never give negative or bad grades because gamers don't like it. Lee Sheldon, a professor at the University of Indiana, has "implemented an 'experience points' game based design. Students begin a semester as a level zero avatar (equivalent to an F) and strive toward a level 12 (an A). This means that everything you do in class produces forward motion, and students always know exactly where they stand - two conditions that serve to motivate." This makes enormous sense. We are all familiar with Dweck's research that demonstrate that many pupils prefer to do the same puzzle again and again rather than attempting a harder puzzle for fear of failing. Yet, many of those very same pupils will devote hours of their free time gaining experience to get to the next level in a computer game.
The Inverted School
The Khan Academy is held up as a model for classroom teaching of the future (yes, you read it correctly): Los Altos School District in California "are taking an approach that inverts the 200-year old schoolhouse model":
"Instead of teachers using classroom time to deliver lectures, students are assigned to watch Khan Academy videos as homework, so that class time can be spent solving problems . . . This lets teachers personalise education trading their sage-on-stage role for that of a coach. Students now work at their own pace and only advance to the next topic they have thoroughly learned the last." (p.186-7)
Abundance is a fascinating and challenging read for anyone who is interested in learning about what the future might hold. The book is fully indexed and referenced and has some informative indices outlining the data - mainly in graphic form - which supports the thesis. Above all it is a much-needed and most welcome counterblast to the doomsday scenarios perpetuated in the media. Lets hope we can build a future where our grandchildren will in a world of abundance.
The principal author, Peter Diamandis, is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE foundation and co-founder and executive chairman of Singularity University, which appears to be a very interesting think-tank that brings together forward-thinkers and futurists and whose mission is mission is "to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges" (worth a look).
There are inevitably political and bureaucratic hurdles before these goals come to fruition, however, hurdles are for jumping over, not directly into, and given the track record of the prime author Peter Diamandis along with his detailed derivation as to the logic behind the arguments put forward, there sure is a basis here for optimism.
Well worth a read.