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Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think

Hoping for a better world – quickly? "Abundance" promises to take you there.

By Kate Vander Wiede / February 28, 2012

Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler Free Press

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Ribs grown in a petri dish. Miniature solar panels that double as windows. Pristine water filtered from chemical waste.

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These seemingly far-fetched technologies give you the impression that Peter Diamandis’ and Steven Kotler’s new book, Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, is plucked straight out of the sci-fi section.

But don’t be fooled.

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.

If anyone could qualify as harbingers of good news, it would be Kotler and Diamandis. Kotler, a journalist and author, has covered science and technology for dozens of publications, and met Diamandis while covering the X Prize Foundation. Diamandis’ brainchild, the X Prize Foundation is a nonprofit that runs incentive-based competitions to bring about “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.” Past winners have invented suborbital, reusable spaceships and technologies to clean oil off the surface of the ocean. 

The authors argue that these sorts of technological achievements  – evidence of exponentially growing technologies – are just one small part of why the next quarter century will bring about a world of abundance. Coupled with the giving of technophilanthropists, a do-it-yourself culture, and what the authors term “the rising billion,” this abundant world will be one where anything is possible, “a world where everyone’s days are spent dreaming and doing, not scrapping and scraping.”

“Imagine a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and nonpolluting, ubiquitous energy. Building this better world is humanity’s grandest challenge,” they write at the book’s inception.

And then they issue a gentle challenge: “What follows is the story of how we can rise to meet it.”

In just 250 pages, Kotler and Diamandis offer a blue print of what it will take to achieve abundance. They call it the Abundance Pyramid. First, ensure food, water and shelter for every person on the planet. Then, guarantee abundant energy, educational opportunities, and communications and information access. Finally, produce a world where freedom and health care is in the province of all.

Technologies like the Lab on a Chip device will be able to return lab results in a matter of minutes. The Slingshot can already turn anything wet into “pure pharmaceutical-grade injectable water.” And the zero gravity, 3-D printer will give astronauts the ability to print out spare spaceship parts in the click of a button.

All of these technologies, and the dozens of others that "Abundance" introduces you to, will fill every rung of the Abundance Pyramid, and fast. Progress in technology is exponential – moving more than fast enough to meet the challenges ahead.

The four billion poorest people of our world, the “rising billion,” will be a huge force in the vision of abundance, note the authors. Not only have companies begun to take advantage of the aggregate purchasing power of those at the bottom of the economic pyramid by selling cheaper products to them (the fifth-largest denim producer in the world, Arvind Mills, now sells wildly popular, $6, ready-to-make jeans kits in India) but the introduction of cheap cell phones has revolutionized the way these bottom billion individuals live: mobile banking, job-hunting, and a free flow of information is now possible.

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