We will soon be able to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. This bold, contrarian view, backed up by exhaustive research, introduces our near-term future, where exponentially growing technologies and three other powerful forces are conspiring to better the lives of billions of people. This book is an antidote to pessimism by tech-entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler.
Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the hardscrabble majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But it is closing - fast. The authors document how four forces - exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, the technophilanthropist, and the rising billion - are conspiring to solve our biggest problems. Abundance establishes hard targets for change and lays out a strategic road map for governments, industry, and entrepreneurs, giving us plenty of reason for optimism.
Examining human need by category - water, food, energy, health care, education, and freedom - Diamandis and Kotler introduce dozens of innovators making great strides in each area: Larry Page, Stephen Hawking, Dean Kamen, Daniel Kahneman, Elon Musk, Bill Joy, Stewart Brand, Jeff Skoll, Ray Kurzweil, Ratan Tata, Craig Venter, and many, many others.
©2012 Peter H, Diamandis and Steven Kotler (P)2012 Tantor
"This engaging book is a needed corrective, a whirlwind tour of the latest developments in health care, agriculture, energy, and other fields as well as an introduction to thinkers and innovators such as Daniel Kahneman, Ray Kurzweil, and Craig Ventor." (Publishers Weekly)
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
According to some viewpoints, life on Earth is getting worse, with more and more people competing for fewer and fewer resources. However, Peter Diamandis and Stephen Kotler are here to make the case for optimism, arguing that innovations in technology, communication, information access, energy production, medicine, agriculture, methods of learning, and entrepreneurship are likely to have vast, transformative effects on human society in the near future. Key to understanding this is the authors’ belief that technological progress tends to follow an exponential curve, rather than a linear one, with inventions that seem to be of limited use at first quickly evolving to become crucial, productivity-enhancing features of everyday life. We’ve already seen this happen with airplanes, cars, computers, and the Internet, and there’s little reason to believe it won’t happen with solar and nuclear energy, better batteries, smart agriculture, gene therapy, self-driving cars, and artificial intelligence. If you’re familiar with techno-optimists like Ray Kurzweil, then you know the cloth that Abundance is cut from.
The authors also focus some attention on the so-called “bottom billion”. As they point out, even small improvements that reach the very poor have a marked effect on their quality of life. Simple access to clean water, basic medicine, cell phone communication, a little electricity, and other small conveniences liberates people from their harshest struggles, enabling them to reach for better lives, including more education. This also reduces the rampant population growth and environmental strain associated with poverty, as people find that they no longer need to be subsistence farmers or have as many children as possible to ensure a comfortable future for themselves.
As a guy who works in technology, I think the book’s optimism in that department is well justified. Never underestimate what can happen when millions of very smart individuals, who can share knowledge easily, attack interconnected problems. The middle chapters contain a short who's-who catalog of inventors, thinkers, and entrepreneurs whose work is pushing the envelope in different areas. In fact, I took the artificial intelligence course taught by one of the researchers mentioned in the AI section, and offered for free online by Stanford University. How’s that for abundance? As Diamandis points out, even the President of the United States didn’t have so much expertise at his fingertips twenty-five years ago. Now a kid in India with a cheap laptop does.
On the social front, there seems to be a little more wishful thinking. The authors are hopeful that improved resource efficiency and slowing population growth will bring humanity’s rapacious levels of consumption and environmental impact down to sustainable levels, and I’m sure they’re right to some degree, but will they be right *enough*? Also, while I admire what certain billionaire philanthropists are doing with their money to solve real problems, the authors seem to discount the other side of concentrated wealth and power, the one that hasn’t always cared about humanity’s best interests. And I still have my concerns about the fate of people who no longer have skills that are useful in a technology-based economy -- what will they get paid to do?
But, even if Abundance doesn’t fully address all those questions, it’s still a hopeful, positive book, directing attention towards all the ways that human beings are applying their ingenuity for real good.
I loved how optimistic the authors were regarding the future and the progress to be made. I especially like the chapter regarding DIY and the potential for change that motivated individuals or small groups can effect. Also, having a young child the book spurred me to think about the world he will grow up in and how I can best prepare him for that world...a somewhat daunting task but very exciting to contemplate!
professional, well-spoken, clear
No, this book is one that I preferred to listen in installments and then digest the thoughts put forward.
I wasn't sure how to rate this title as the reading and book are both well done however it is not a book that I would really recommend as an audio book. This is one in which I would rather have in ebook or paper format in order to highlight passages and mark pages for later reference. The were several times in which I wished I could stop and simply zone out on the "page" to let my mind bounce the ideas presented around as my eyes track particular words or phrases. This probably reflects my tendency to be a very visual person but in any case I would recommend the book to any reader interested in the challenges and possible solutions to many of the worlds current problems...albeit in a visual format.
The World has a bright future from Peter's point of view .
I found this to be a light in a darkened room of doom and gloom .
Solutions , proposals and suggestions .
We can stand by and watch it happen or join in .
This is a must read for everyone . ( I do not say that often )
I like the direct, practical solutions to seemingly intractable problems presented here. While I had heard of many of these things, I was surprised to see how far along the technology had moved. TED presenters are everywhere and fleshing out the personalities a bit was refreshing and enlightening. If you like Sci-Fi this feels like nirvanna. If you like practicality, there are so many deep insights and realized solutions. I love this book.
Good News Only.
It made me see the power of technology in a new light.
Yes, at times I felt relieved.
The extraordinary breadth of the subject matter is simply amazing.
Humanity's ability to carry on.
Yes, I'm actually going to buy the book so I can dive deeper into the content. Great content and excellent writing/organization of a lot of complex and exciting ideas.
We need to capture this kind optimism in the way we look at our nation today. This book gives the answers to question about the future like, where is our energy going to come from? Where is our food going to come from? How will our grandchildren get by if nothing changes? I can’t wait to see how much of the book comes true. This is a book I recommend.
I believe this is a good book if you want to see what is going on out side of your daily circle.
Farm towers. I had never thought of farming vertically.
NA- it is a narration.
I listen to the book in two day I believe.
Good book. I was familiar with much of the data presented but I would recommend it.
This is a Great Look at how Scientific Progress has Made the World a Better Place in the past and will do so in the future.
The authors have a real grasp of the science of the 21st Century and provide and interesting narrative for science and non-science aficionados alike.
I'm not sure the immediate future will be as rosy as the author's think, but they provide a compelling case that over the long run science raises living standards for everyone.
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