Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think - Peter Diamandis
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Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think - Peter Diamandis

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Brief Summary: 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 roadmap for governments, industry and entrepreneurs, giving us plenty of reason for optimism.

Amazon Main Page: http://www.amazon.com/Abundance-Future-Better-Than-Think/dp/1451614217

Amazon Genre: Engineering, Social Sciences, Technology

Amazon Customer Reviews Page: http://www.amazon.com/Abundance-Future-Better-Than-Think/product-reviews/1451614217/

Book Web Site: http://www.abundancethebook.com/

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Blogs/Articles/Reviews About the Book:
Innovation Excellence
Huffington Post
NY Times

Similar Books by Other Authors:
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Imagine: How Creativity Works - Jonah Lehrer
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves - Matt Ridley
Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room - David Weinberger

Notes and Excerpts from Book:

Over the next eight years, three billion new individuals will be coming online joining the global conversation and contributing to the global economy. Imagine a giant orange tree packed with fruit-- if I pluck all the oranges from the lower branches, I am effectively out of accessible fruit. By my limited perspective oranges are now scarce. But once someone invents a piece of technology called a ladder, I’ve suddenly got new reach. Problem solved.

Technology is a resource-liberating mechanism. It can make the once scarce the now abundant. One month after traveling to Madagascar, I chaired our annual visioneering board meeting where African Centers like Dean Kamen and Greg Ventor, brilliant technology entrepreneurs such as Larry Page and Elon Musk, and international business giants like Ratan Tata and Anush Ansari were debating how to drive with adequate breakthroughs and energy, life sciences, education and global development.

Humanity is now entering the period of radical transformation in which technology has the potential to significantly raise the basic standards of living for every man, woman and child on the planet. Within a generation we will be able to provide goods and services once reserved for the wealthy few to any and all who need them. Over the past 20 years, wireless technologies and the Internet have become ubiquitous, affordable and available to almost everyone. Right now a Masai warrior with a cell phone with access to Google has better accessed information than the average person 15 years ago.

A Do-It-Yourself revolution has been brewing for the past 50 years, but lately its begun to bubble over. In today’s world the purview of backyard tinkerers has extended far beyond custom cars and homemade computers and now reaches into once esoteric fields like genetics and robotics. What’s more, these days small groups of motivated Do-It-Yourselfers can accomplish what was once the full province of large corporations and governments.

The newfound power of these maverick innovators is the first of our three forces. The high tech revolution created an entirely new breed of wealthy Technophilanthropists for using their fortunes to solve global, abundance-related challenges. The rising billion. It’s the combination of the Internet, micro-finance and wireless communication technology that’s transforming the poorest of the poor into an emerging market force. Acting alone, each of these three forces have enormous potential, but acting together amplified by exponentially growing technologies, the once unimaginable becomes the now actually possible.

So what is possible?

Imagine a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and non-polluting, ubiquitous energy. Water, food, housing, education, health, and energy. Today 99% of Americans living below the poverty line have electricity, water, flushing toilets and a refrigerator. 70% even have air conditioning. This may not seem like much, but 100 years ago men like Henry Ford and Cornelius Vanderbilt were among the richest on the planet, but they enjoyed very few of these luxuries. Maslow created his hierarchy of human needs, physical needs, safety needs like protection, security, law and order, and stability, love and belongingness for family relationships, affection and work, esteem for an achievement, status responsibility and reputation, and at the very top are his self actualized needs which are about personal growth and fulfillment.

My pyramid of abundances is as follows. The bottom has food, water and shelter, the middle is devoted to catalysts for future growth, like abundant energy, ample educational opportunities, and access to ubiquitous communications and information and the highest tiers are reserved for freedom and health. Currently a billion people lack access to safe water and 2.6 billion lack access to safe sanitation. Right now more folks have access to a cell phone than a toilet.

The next level of the abundance pyramid is energy, education and information communication. They allow for the two greatest abundant facets in history--specialization and exchange. Specialists can exchange specialties. Friedrich Hayek called catallaxy the ever-expanding possibility generated by the division of labor. If I sell you a high tunic today, you can sell me one tomorrow, brings limited rewards and diminishing returns, but if I make the clothes and you catch the food, that brings increasing return.

Human beings are designed to be local optimists and global pessimists, and this is an even bigger problem for abundance. Since nothing is more critical to the brain than survival, the first filter for most incoming information is encountered by the amygdala. Primal emotions like rage, hate and fear are our early-warning systems. Pick up the Washington Post and compare the number of positive to negative authorities. 90% are pessimistic, bad news fails because the amygdala is always looking for something to fear. Attention is a limited resource. It is hard to be optimistic because the brain filtering architecture is pessimistic by design.

Second, good news is found out because it is in the media's best interest to over-emphasize the bad. The disconnect between the local linear wiring of our brain and the global and exponential reality of our world is what I call disruptive convergence. Technologies are exploding and can join like never before, and our brains can’t easily anticipate such rapid transformation. New billion dollar companies appear out of nowhere.

Oxford University Anthropologist Robin Dunbar 20 years ago was interested in the number of active interpersonal relationships the human brain can process at one time. People tend to self organize in groups of 150. They actually only interact with 150 people. We feel these open flops with whomever we have the most daily contact even if that contact comes only from watching that person on television. Our brain doesn’t realize there is a difference between rock stars we know about and relatives we know. This evolutionary artifact makes television even more addictive. Because of the negative bias and authority bias or tendency to trust authority figures, we are inclined to believe them.

In 2007, I realized that if we wanted to start strategically employing exponential growing technology to improve global standards of living, it wasn’t enough to know which fields were accelerating exponentially, we also needed to know where they overlapped and how they might work together. Perhaps it was time for a new type of university, something both appropriate for future rapid technological change and one directly focused on solving the world’s great challenges.

In 2008, I took this idea forward, partnering with Ray Kurzweil to found Singularity University. I involved my old friend Dr. Simon Keith Warden. We focused on eight growing fields--biotechnology, bioinformatics, computational systems, networks and centers, artificial intelligence, robotics, digital manufacturing, medicine and nano materials and nano technology. I organized the founding conference for Singularity University at the NASA Ames Research Center in September, 2008.

I now have a very simple metric I use. Are you working on something that can change the world, yes or no? The answer for 99.999 99% of the people is no. I think we need to be training people on how to change the world. Obviously technologies are the way to do that. That’s what we have seen in the past, that’s what drives all change. We have had 1,000 graduates. Each year the graduates are challenged to develop a company product or organization that will positively affect the lives of a billion people within 10 years. I call these 10th or the 9th plus companies. Although none of these startups have yet reached this mark, we are only three years old, and great progress is being made.

The ability of the world’s population to volunteer and to contribute and collaborate on large, sometimes global projects, is amazing. Wikipedia took 100 million hours of volunteer time to create. We spend a Wikipedia worth of time every weekend in the US watching advertisements alone. If we were to forego our television addiction for just one year, the world would have over a trillion hours of cognitive surplus to commit to shared projects. Imagine what we could do for the world’s great challenges with a trillion hours of focused attention.

Peter Thum created Ethos Water, a super premium brand of bottled water, to donate $0.05 per bottle. In March 1968, Stuart Brant was reading a copy of Barbara Ward’s Spaceship Earth and trying to answer a pair of questions. How can I help all my friends who are currently moving back to the land, and more importantly how can I save the planet? He created the Whole Earth Catalogue, which in July 2, 1968, was a six-page mimeograph. With his statement of purpose “we are as Gods and we might as well get good at it,” this established that information wants to be free and business could be a force for good.

Fred Moore in the early 70s realized there was power in networking. He wanted to connect all the key players in the various left-leading movements operating in America. He created 3 x 5 inch cards. He wanted a computer to run this, so in 1975 he decided to start a computer club to help him build one. This was the Homebrew Computer Club which included John Draper, the Osborne Creators, and Apple Co-Founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.

Small groups of dedicated Do-It Yourself innovators can now tackle problems that were once solely the purview of big governments and big corporations. Anderson started a non-profit online community called Do-It-Yourself Drones. The Do-It-Yourself Drones Community has developed 100 different products in the same way and under a year for essentially zero development costs. Over the past 2 to 10 years the lead from software back into hardware has occurred. It’s radical demonetization, says Anderson a True Do-It-Yourself story about using open source design to reduce costs a hundred fold, while keeping 90% of the functionality.

Makers are now impacting just about every abundance related field from agricultural to robotics to renewable energy. Hopefully, you will find this inspirational. One of the book's key messages is that anyone can take on a grand challenge. You too can start a community and make a contribution, and if software and hardware aren’t your flavors of choice how about wetware. Groups of high school and college students have set out the harness the very stuff of life itself and launched a Do-It-Yourself bio movement. They created the international genetically engineered machine. They taught a month-long class to a handful of students.

Take Muhammad Yunus who started the Grameen Bank and helped lift 100,000,000 plus people out of poverty around the world. Ann Cotton who has educated over a quarter million African girls through organization Camfed and Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund, who is affecting millions of lives. The world has over 1,000 billionaires. In 2009, the number of ultra-high wealth individuals is 100,000 people. They announced the giving pledge where half the nation's billionaires pledge to give away half their wealth to philanthropic and charitable groups within their lifetimes or at the time of their death. As of July, 2011, the total had risen to 69 signatories with more joining all the time.

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