“…One of the better responses to the threat of scarcity is not to try to slice our pie thinner—rather it’s to figure out how to make more pies. Of course, the make-more-pies approach is nothing new, but there are a few key differences this time around. These differences will comprise the bulk of this book, but the short version is that for the first time in history, our capabilities have begun to catch up to our ambitions. Humanity is now entering a 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. Or desire them. Abundance for all is actually within our grasp.
In this modern age of cynicism, many of us bridle in the face of such proclamation, but elements of this transformation are already underway. Over the past 20 years, wireless technologies and the internet have become ubiquitous, affordable and available to almost everyone. Africa has skipped a technological generation, by-passing the landlines that stripe our Western skies for the wireless way. Mobile phone penetration is growing exponentially, from 2 percent in 2000, to 28 percent in 2009, to an expected 70 percent in 2013. Already, folks with no education and little to eat have gained access to cellular connectivity unheard of just 30 years ago. Right now, a Masai warrior with a cellphone has better mobile phone capabilities than the President of the United States did 25 years ago. And if he’s on a smart phone with access to Google, then he has better access to information than the President did just 15 years ago. By the end of 2013, the vast majority of humanity will be caught in this same world wide web of instantaneous, low-cost, communications and information. In other words, we are now living in a world of information and communication abundance.
In a similar fashion, the advancement of new, transformational technologies—computational systems, networks and sensors, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, bio-informatics, 3D printing, nanotechnology, human-machine interfaces and biomedical engineering—will soon enable the vast majority of humanity to experience what only the affluent have access to today. Even better, these technologies aren’t the only change agents in play.
There are three additional forces at work, each augmented by the power of exponentially growing technologies, each with significant, abundance-producing potential. A Do-It-Yourself (DIY) revolution has been brewing for the past 50 years, but lately it’s begun to bubble over. In today’s world, the purview of backyard tinkerers has extended far beyond custom cars and homebrew computers, and now reaches into once esoteric fields like genetics and robotics. What’s more, these days, small groups of motivated DIY’ers can accomplish what was once the sole province of large corporations and governments. The aerospace giants felt it was impossible, but Burt Rutan flew into space. Craig Venter beat the mighty US government in the race to sequence the human genome. The newfound power of these maverick innovators is the first of our three forces.
The second force is money—a lot of money—being spent in a very particular way. The high-tech revolution created an entirely new breed of wealthy Technophilanthropists who are using their fortunes to solve global, abundance-related challenges. Bill Gates is crusading against malaria; Mark Zuckerberg is working to re-invent education; while Pierre and Pam Omidyar are focused on bringing electricity to the developing world. And this list goes on and on. Taken together, our second driver is a Technophilanthropic force unrivalled in history.
Lastly, there are the very poorest of the poor, the so-called “bottom billion,” who are finally plugging into the global economy and are poised to become what I call “the Rising Billion.” The creation of a global transportation network was the initial step down this path, but 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. Building this better world is humanity’s grandest challenge. What follows is the story of how we can rise to meet it.”
This excerpt is from ‘Abundance: Why the Future Will Be Much Better Than You Think’ (Free Press, 2012) by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. For more visit, http://www.abundancethebook.com/