(Some of) My Highlighted Passages/Direct Quotes from Abundance by Diamandis and Kotler

At the July, 2012 First Friday Book Synopsis, I presented my synopsis of Abundance.  The handout included a selected number of my “highlights” (direct quotes from the book, which I highlighted as I read the book).  Here is a more complete selection of the passages I highlighted.  Everything that follows is a direct highlight/quote from the book.  You can purchase the book at Amazon – click here to purchase). 

Note:  I did no “formatting” here.  I simply pasted from a Word document.  I apologize for the “look.”  This is intended to be “supplemental reading” for those who attend my presentation.


Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think

By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler.

New York:  Free Press (A Divison of Simon & Schuster).  (2012)

(note:  the “#s” following each quote indicate the Kindle App for the iMac “location”

of the quote in the book)

We will soon have the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. 28

…four emerging forces-exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, the Technophilanthropist, and the Rising Billion—are conspiring to solve our biggest problems. 37

These are turbulent times. 126   •

evolution shaped the human brain to be acutely aware of all potential dangers.

this… has a profound impact on human perception: It literally shuts off our ability to take in good news. 129   •

But we are not so naϊve as to think that there won’t be bumps along the way. Some of those will be big bumps: economic meltdowns, natural disasters, terrorist attacks. During these times, the concept of abundance will seem far-off, alien, even nonsensical, but a quick look at history shows that progress continues through the good times and the bad. 131   •

…infant mortality decrease by 90 percent, maternal mortality decrease by 99 percent, and, overall, human lifespan increase by more than 100 percent. 136   •

Yet today, even the poorest Americans have access to a telephone, television, and a flush toilet—three luxuries that even the wealthiest couldn’t imagine at the turn of the last century. In fact, as will soon be clear, using almost any metric currently available, quality of life has improved more in the past century than ever before. 140   •

Our days of isolation are behind us. In today’s world, what happens “over there” impacts “over here.” 147   •

What’s the best way to solve these issues? Raise global standards of living. 149   •

…the wealthier, more educated, and healthier a nation, the less violence and civil unrest among its populace, and the less likely that unrest will spread across its borders. As such, stable governments are better prepared to stop an infectious disease outbreak before it becomes a global pandemic. 150   •

The point is this: In today’s hyperlinked world, solving problems anywhere, solves problems everywhere. 152

the greatest tool we have for tackling our grand challenges is the human mind. 154

Over the next eight years, three billion new individuals will be coming online, joining the global conversation, and contributing to the global economy. Their ideas—ideas we’ve never before had access to—will result in new discoveries, products, and inventions that will benefit us all. 155

It was the creation of a new breakthrough technology known as electrolysis, discovered independently and almost simultaneously in 1886 by American chemist Charles Martin Hall and Frenchman Paul Héroult, that changed everything. Suddenly everyone on the planet had access to ridiculous amounts of cheap, light, pliable metal. 197   •

History’s littered with tales of once-rare resources made plentiful by innovation.

…scarcity is often contextual. 199   •

Technology is a resource-liberating mechanism. It can make the once scarce the now abundant. 202

Fact one: Currently humanity uses 30 percent more of our planet’s natural resources than we can replace. Fact two: If everyone on this planet wanted to live with the lifestyle of the average European, we would need three planets’ worth of resources to pull it off. Fact three: If everyone on this planet wished to live like an average North American, then we’d need five planets to pull it off. 221

…there’s over five thousand times more solar energy falling on the planet’s surface than we use in a year. Once again, it’s not an issue of scarcity, it’s an issue of accessibility. 229

When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce; they’re mainly inaccessible. Yet the threat of scarcity still dominates our worldview. 233

…the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resourceswe possess.” 244

The Club of Rome, as this group was soon known, had come together to discuss the problems of short-term thinking in a long-term world. 249

Scientists who study the carrying capacity of the Earth—the measure of how many people can live here sustainably—have fluctuatedmassively in their estimations. Wild-eyed optimists believe it’s close to two billion. Dour pessimists think it might be three hundred million. But if you agree with even the most uplifting of these predictions—as Dr. Nina Fedoroff, science and technology advisor to the US secretary of state, recently told reporters—only one conclusion can be drawn: “We need to decrease the growth rate of the global population; the planet cannot support many more people.” 265

If you can’t shed people, you have to stretch the resources those people use. And stretch them dramatically. 278

…the source of my concern was that efficiency was being forwarded as the only option available. 281

Most of them accomplished this feat by solving problems that had long been considered unsolvable. Taken together, they are a group whose track record showed that 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. 288

…for the first time in history, our capabilities have begun to catch up to ourambitions. 293

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. 293

Africa has skipped a technological generation, by-passing the landlines that stripe our Western skies for the wireless way. 298

Right now a Masai warrior with a cell phone has better mobile phone capabilities than the president of the United States did twenty-five 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 fifteen years ago. 301

In other words, we are now living in a world of information and communication abundance. 304

…the advancement of new, transformational technologies—computational systems, networks and sensors, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, bioinformatics, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, human-machine interfaces, and biomedical engineering… 305   •

A Do-It-Yourself (DIY) revolution has been brewing for the past fifty years, but lately it’s begun to bubble over. 310

small groups of motivated DIY-ers can accomplish what was once the sole province of large corporations and governments. 312   •

The second force is money—a lot of money—being spent in a very particular way. 315

Bill Gates is crusading against malaria; Mark Zuckerberg is working to reinvent 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 unrivaled in history. 317

So what is possible? 324   •

Imagine a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and nonpolluting, ubiquitous energy. 325

Today most poverty-stricken Americans have a television, telephone, electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing. Most Africans do not. 345

Today Americans living below the poverty line are not just light-years ahead of most Africans; they’re light-years ahead of the wealthiest Americans from just a century ago. Today 99 percent of Americans living below the poverty line have electricity, water, flushing toilets, and a refrigerator; 95 percent have a television; 88 percent have a telephone; 71 percent have a car; and 70 percent even have air-conditioning. This may not seem like much, but one hundred years ago men like Henry Ford and Cornelius Vanderbilt were among the richest on the planet, but they enjoyed few of these luxuries. 349

Abundance is not about providing everyone on this planet with a life of luxury—rather it’s about providing all with a life of possibility. 356

Feeding the hungry, providing access to clean water, ending indoor air pollution, and wiping out malaria—four entirely preventable conditions that kill, respectively, seven, three, three, and two people per minute worldwide is a must. 358

But ultimately, abundance is about creating a world of possibility: a world where everyone’s days are spent dreaming and doing, not scrapping and scraping. 359   •

According to Maslow, the needs at each level have to be satisfied before a person can progress to the next. 371

Of course, in the developed world, this may not sound like much, but it’s a game-changer most everywhere else—and not just for the obvious reasons. 391

On this small planet, our grand challenges are not isolated concerns. Rather, they are stacked up like rows of dominoes. 393

…half of the world’s hospitalizations are due to people drinking water contaminated with infectious agents, 400

Right now more folks have access to a cell phone than a toilet. In fact, the ancient Romans had better water quality than half the people alive today. 403

One of the advantages we now possess in addressing the world’s woes is information. We have a lot of it, especially about population growth and its various drivers and effects. 412

By solving our water worries, we’re also alleviating world hunger, relieving poverty, lowering the global disease burden, slowing rampant population growth, and preserving the biosphere. 437

…two of the greatest abundance assets in history: specialization and exchange. 447

Friedrich Hayek called catallaxy: the ever-expanding possibility generated by the division of labor. 450

‘[But] … I make the clothes, you catch the food’ brings increasing returns. 453

Trade is often unequal but it still benefits both sides.” 454

So how much energy does it take to change the game? 455

the two-burner electric cookstove is a simple device, but it would bring magnificent change to the 3.5 billion people who now cook food and get light and heat by burning biomass: wood, dung, and crop residue. 467

Reading, Writing, and Ready teaching every child on the planet the basics of literacy, mathematics, life skills, and critical thinking. 484   •

This emphasis on personal growth and personal responsibility is key because we are in the midst of an education revolution. As experts like Sir Ken Robinson—who was knighted for his contribution to education—have said repeatedly, these days, antiquated classrooms are the least of our worries. “Suddenly degrees aren’t worth anything,” says Robinson. “When I was a student, if you had a degree, you had a job. If you didn’t have a job, it was because you didn’t want one.” 489

creative ideas are the ultimate resource. 498

Teaching kids how to nourish their creativity and curiosity, while still providing a sound foundation in critical thinking, literacy and math, is the best way to prepare them for a future of increasingly rapid technological change. 500   •

Decentralized means learning cannot easily be curtailed by autocratic governments and is considerably more immune to socioeconomic upheaval. Personalized means that it can be tailored to an individual’s needs and preferred learning style. These are both significant improvements, but many feel that its interactivity that could bring the biggest gains. 505

you learn through doing. This suggests that if you want more learning, you want more doing. 511

In Zambia, farmers without bank accounts now rely on mobile phones to buy seeds and fertilizer, boosting their profits by almost 20 percent. 518

the impact of the mobile phone in Africa has “had about the same effect as a democratic change of leadership.” 521

In 2010, when the Finnish multinational sold its billionth handset, it came as no surprise that the sale took place in Nigeria. 530

Abundance is an all-inclusive idea. It means everyone. 532

These days, to perform a blood test, you need access to sterile equipment and trained personnel. 542

A technology now under development, known as Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC), has the potential to solve these problems. 547

“It’s a game-changing technology…” 549

“In the developing world, it will bring reliable health care to billions who don’t currently have it. In the developed world, like here in the US—where medical costs go up another 8 percent every year and 16.5 percent of the economy goes to health care—if personalized medical technologies like the lab-on-a-chip aren’t brought to bear on the situation, we’re going to bankrupt the country.” 550

Because these chips are online, the information they collect—like, say, an outbreak of swine flu—can be immediately uploaded to a cloud… 554

…information technologies are extremely potent change agents. 578   •

“Access to and the strategic use of ICTs have been shown to have the potential to help bring about economic development, poverty reduction and democratization—including freedom of speech, the free flow of information and the promotion of human rights.” 583

…everything outlined in the preceding pages (and much more to be discussed later) should be achievable within twenty-five years, with noticeable change possible within the next decade. 587

Because of our negativity bias, standing up in today’s climate and claiming that the world is getting better makes you appear addled. But we also suffer from the bandwagon effect—the tendency to do or believe things because others do—so even if you suspect there is real cause for optimism, these two biases will team up and make you doubt your own opinion. 677

But there’s a flip side: while we seriously overestimate ourselves, we significantly underestimate the world at large. 684

Human beings are designed to be local optimists and global pessimists and this is an even bigger problem for abundance. 685

Quite simply, good news doesn’t catch our attention. Bad news sells

because the amygdala is always looking for something to fear. 711

…under mundane circumstances, attention is a limited resource. 713

attention is a seriously limited resource, and once we’re focused on one thing, we often don’t notice the next. 715

once the amygdala begins hunting bad news, it’s mostly going to find bad news. 717

Add in an impossible-to-avoid media continuously scaring us in an attempt to capture market share, and you have a brain convinced that it’s living in a state of siege—a state

that’s especially troubling, as New York University’s Dr. Marc Siegel explains in his book False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear, because nothing could be further from the truth:   Statistically, the industrialized world has never been safer. Many of us are living longer and more uneventfully. Nevertheless, we live in worst-case fear scenarios. 722

…life spans 60 percent longer in 2000 than in 1900.

And yet, we worry more than ever before. 729

For abundance, all this carries a triple penalty. First, it’s hard to be optimistic, because the brain’s filtering architecture is pessimistic by design. Second, good news is drowned out, because it’s in the media’s best interest to overemphasize the bad. Third, scientists have recently discovered an evenbigger cost: it’s not just that these survival instincts make us believe that “the hole we’re in is too deep to climb out of,” but they also limit our desire to climb out of that hole. 733   •

A desire to better the world is predicated partially on empathy and compassion. 735

When there’s a tiger in the bush, there isn’t much time to think, so the brain takes a shortcut: it doesn’t. 738   •

once our primitive survival instincts take over, our newer, prosocial instincts stay sidelined. Compassion, empathy, altruism—even indignation—become nonfactors. 741

…today’s environment is “global and exponential.” 746

A week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than the average seventeenth-century citizen encountered in a lifetime. And the volume is growing exponentially. “From the very beginning of time until the year 2003,” says Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, “humankind created five exabytes of digital information. An exabyte is one billion gigabytes—or a 1 with eighteen zeroes after it. Right now, in the year 2010, the human race is generating five exabytes of information every two days. 753

By the year 2013, the number will be five exabytes…

It’s no wonder we’re exhausted.” 757   •

The yield of corn seed varied by the season’s climate, instead of improving each year. Every 12 months, you could not upgrade your oxen’s yoke to anything much better than what you already had.” 763

…a “disruptive convergence.” Technologies are exploding and conjoining like never before, and our brains can’t easily anticipate such rapid transformation. Our current means of governance and its supporting regulatory structures aren’t designed for this pace. Look at the financial markets. Over the past decade, billion-dollar companies like Kodak, Blockbuster, and Tower Records collapsed nearly overnight, while new billion-dollar companies appeared out of nowhere. YouTube went from start-up to being acquired by Google for $1.65 billion in eighteen months. 765

Historically, value has never been created this quickly. 771

But this is the important part: we also consistently fail to recognize the post-hype, massively transformative nature of exponential technologies—meaning that we literally

have a blind spot for the technological possibilities underlying our vision of abundance. 776

Taken in total, the result is a population convinced that the end is near and there’s not a damn thing to do about it. 802

…it helps to have an accurate assessment of our exact starting point. If we can strip away our cynicism, what does our world really look like? How much progress has been made and not noticed? 812   •

“We might be gloomy because gloomy people managed to avoid getting eaten by lions in the Pleistocene.” 824

“Predictions about population and famine were seriously wrong,” he says, “while epidemics were never as bad as they were supposed to be. 845

Furthermore, I noticed that people who pointed these facts out were heavily criticized but not refuted.” 847

…time is a resource. In fact, time has always been our most precious resource, and this has significant consequences for how we access progress. 853

In the present, for a huge chunk of the world, not much has changed. A rural peasant woman in modern Malawi spends 35 percent of her time farming food, 33 percent cooking and cleaning, 17 percent fetching clean drinking water, and 5 percent collecting firewood. This leaves only 10 percent of her day for anything else… 857

…the best definition of prosperity is simply “saved time.” “Forget dollars, cowrie shells, or gold,” he says. “The true measure of something’s worth is the hours it takes to acquire it.” 860

Light is a fabulous example. In England, artificial lighting was twenty thousand times more expensive circa AD 1300 than it is today. 865   •

Today [light] will cost less than a half a second of your working time if you are on the average wage: half a second of work for an hour of light! Had you been using a kerosene lamp in the 1880s, you would have had to work for 15 minutes to get the same amount of light. A tallow candle in the 1800s: over six hours’ work. And to get that much light from a sesame-oil lamp in Babylon in 1750 BC would have cost you more than fifty hours 868

In the 1800s, going from Boston to Chicago via stagecoach took two weeks’ time and a month’s wages. Today it takes two hours and a day’s wage. 877

But the vast majority of people are much better fed, much better sheltered, much better entertained, much better protected against disease and much more likely to live to old age than their ancestors have ever been. 885

The availability of almost everything a person could want has been going rapidly upward for two hundred years and erratically upward for ten thousand years before that: years of life span, mouthfuls of clean water, lungfuls of clean air, hours of privacy, means of traveling faster than you can run, ways of communicating farther than you can shout. 887

…this generation of human beings has access to more calories, watts, lumen-hours, square-feet, gigabytes, megahertz, light-years, nanometers, bushels per acre, miles per gallon, food miles, air miles, and, of course, dollars than any that went before. 890

What all this means is that if your case against abundance rests upon “the hole we’re in is too deep to climb out of” defense, well, you might want to find a different defense. 892

In 1995 India had 4.5 million middle-class households. By 2009, that had risen to 29.4 million. 898

Compared to fifty years ago, today the Chinese are ten times as rich, have one-third fewer babies, and live twenty-eight years longer. In that same half-century time span, Nigerians are twice as well off, with 25 percent fewer children and a nine-year boost in life span. All told, according to the United Nations, poverty was reduced more in the past fifty years than in the previous five hundred. 906

“Once the rise in the position of the lower classes gathers speed,” economist Friedrich Hayek wrote in his 1960 book, The Constitution of Liberty, “catering to the rich ceases to be the main source of great gain and gives place to efforts directed towardthe needs of the masses. 913

…prosperity is simply time saved, 948

Culture is the ability to store, exchange, and improve ideas. 955

When people say we have an information-based economy, what they really mean is that what we have figured out is how to exchange information. 970

If we trade, then I have a watch and you have a hunk of gold. But if you have an idea and I have an idea, and we exchange them, then we both have two ideas. It’s nonzero.” 973

…when it comes to predicting technological trends, we’ve gotten it almost down to a science. And perhaps no one is better at this science than Ray Kurzweil. 1025

His parents, both secular Jews, had fled Austria for New York to escape Hitler. 1028

From these tales, Kurzweil learned that human ideas were all powerful. Da Vinci’s ideas symbolized the power of invention to transcend human limitations. Hitler’s ideas showed the power to destroy. “So from an early age,” says Kurzweil, “I placed a critical importance on pursuing ideas that embodied the best of our human values.” 1031

The moral of the story was clear: ideas, coupled with technology, could solve all of the world’s problems. 1037

He’s invented dozens of wonders: the world’s first CCD flatbed scanner, the world’s first text-to-speech synthesizer, the world’s first reading machine for the blind—and plenty more. 1038

As [Damien] Broderick notes, humans arrived on the Moon “close to a third of century sooner than loony space travel buffs like Arthur C. Clarke had expected it to occur.” 1055

Moore’s law states that every eighteen months, the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles, which essentially means that every eighteen months, computers get twice as fast for the same price. 1063

…let’s examine the Osborne Executive Portable, a bleeding edge computer released in 1982. 1072

…the iPhone has 150,000 times more price performance than Osborne’s Executive. 1077   •

And this is where Kurzweil returns to our story. In the 1980s, he realized that inventions based on today’s technologies would be outdated by the time they got to market. To be really successful, he needed to anticipate where technology would be in three to five years and base his designs on that.

So Kurzweil became a student of tech trends. 1083   •

Moreover, it wasn’t just that information-based technologies were growing exponentially, it was that they did so regardless of what else was going on in the world. 1088

In his first book, 1988’s The Age of Intelligent Machines, Kurzweil used his exponential growth charts to make a handful of predictions about the future. Now, certainly inventors and intellectuals are always making predictions, but his turned out to be uncannily accurate: foretelling the demise of the Soviet Union, a computer’s winning the world chess championship, the rise of intelligent, computerized weapons in warfare, autonomous cars, and, perhaps most famously, the World Wide Web. 1091

…but out of 108 predictions made for 2009, 89 have come true outright and another 13 were damn close, giving Kurzweil a soothsaying record unmatched in the history of futurism. 1098

…the average $1,000 laptop should be computing at the rate of the human brain in fewer than fifteen years. 1107

But how well suited are today’s academic institutions to addressing the world’s grand challenges? The modern graduate degree has become the realm of the ultraspecialized. 1131

the best universities rarely produce integrative, macroscopic thinkers. 1134

“Grandpa,” I would begin, “do you see the dirt over there?” “Are you a soil expert?” he might ask. “No. But in the dirt, there is this microscopic life form called a bacterium.” “Oh, you’re an expert in that!” “No,” I’d respond. “Inside the bacteria, there’s this thing called DNA.” “So you’re an expert in DNA?” “Not quite. Inside the DNA are these segments called genes—and I’m not an expert in those either—but at the beginning of those genes is what’s called a promoter sequence …” “Uh-huh …” “Well, I’m an expert in that!” 1136

The world doesn’t need another ultraspecialist-generating research university. We’ve got that covered. 1145

Places like MIT, Stanford, and the California Institute of Technology already do a fine job creating supergeniuses who can geek out… 1145

In 2008 I took this idea forward, partnering with Ray Kurzweil to found Singularity University (SU). 1149

eight exponentially growing fields were chosen as the core of SU’s curriculum: biotechnology and bioinformatics; computational systems; networks and sensors;

artificial intelligence; robotics; digital manufacturing; medicine; and nanomaterials and nanotechnology. Each of these has the potential to affect billions of people, solve grand challenges, and reinvent industries. 1154

A network is any interconnection of signals and information, of which the Internet is the most significant example. A sensor is a device that detects information—temperature, vibration, radiation, and such—that, when hooked up to a network, can also transmit this information. 1220

…we have seen the emergence of a kind of global data field.

…we weren’t able to hear it, to see it, to capture it. Now we can because all of this stuff is now instrumented. 1225

So, in effect, the planet has grown a central nervous system.” This nervous system is the backbone of the Internet ofthings. 1228

Suddenly Google can help you find your car keys. Stolen property becomes a thing of the past. When your house is running out of toilet paper or cleaning products or espresso beans, it can automatically reorder supplies. If prosperity is really saved time, then the Internet of things is a big pot of gold. 1230

…streamlining supply chains and minimizing waste to an extraordinary degree. Efficiency goes through the roof. With critical appliances activated only when needed (lights that flick on as someone approaches a building), the energy-saving potential alone would be world changing. And world saving. 1235   •

How we manufacture, how we control our environment, and how we distribute, use, and recycle resources. When the world around us becomes plugged in and effectively self-aware, it will drive efficiencies like never before. It’s a big step toward a world of abundance.” 1245   •

“There are nearly 50 million auto accidents worldwide each year, with over 1.2 million needless deaths. AI applications such as automatic breaking or lane guidance will keep drivers from injuring themselves when falling asleep at the wheel. This is where artificial intelligence can help save lives every day.” 1268   •

Diagnosing patients, teaching our children, serving as the backbone for a new energy paradigm—the list of ways that AI will reshape our lives in the years ahead goes on and on. 1276

…we are already AI codependent. 1280

But the constant doubling of computer power every year enabled the Deep Blue supercomputer to defeat Kasparov only five years later. Today you can buy a championship-level Chess AI for your iPhone for less than ten dollars.” 1284

Hassan has open-sourced the project. “Proprietary systems slow things down,” he says. “We want the best minds around the world working on this problem. Our goal is not to control or own this technology but to accelerate it; put the pedal to the metal to make this happen as soon as possible.” 1321

“In 1950 the global world product was roughly four trillion dollars,” he says. “In 2008, fifty-eight years later, it was sixty-one trillion dollars. Where did this fifteenfold increase come from? It came from increased productivity in our factories equipped with automation. 1326

…five hundred cars per day with only four hundred employees because of automation. 1329

In June 2011 President Obama announced the National Robotics Initiative 1332

the NRI is structured around “critical enablers”: anchoring technologies that allow manufacturers to standardize processes and products, thus cutting development time and increasing performance. 1334

“Investing in robotics is more than just money for research and development, it is a vehicle to transform American lives and revitalize the American economy. Indeed, we are at a critical juncture where we are seeing robotics transition from the laboratory to generate new businesses, create jobs, and confront the important challenges facing our nation.” 1337

Previously, invention was a linear game: create something in your head, build it in the real world, see what works, see what fails, start over on the next iteration. This was time consuming, creatively restricting, and prohibitively expensive. 3-D printing changes all of that, enabling “rapid prototyping,” so that inventors can literally print dozens of variations on a design with little additional cost and in a fraction of the time previously required for physical prototyping. 1368

Computing is not only cheap, it’s getting cheaper, and we can easily extrapolate this trend to where we come to think of computing as virtually free. In fact, today it’s the least expensive resource we can throw at a problem. 1376

…renting a CPU core hour at Amazon costs less than a nickel.” 1379

Suddenly an invention developed in China can be perfected in India, then printed and utilized in Brazil on the same day—giving the developing world a poverty-fighting mechanism unlike anything yet seen. 1384

What we desperately need is accurate, low-cost, easy-to-use, point-of-care diagnostics designed specifically for the sixty percent of the developing world that lives beyond the reach of urban hospitals and medical infrastructures. This is what Lab-on-a-Chip technology can deliver.” 1393

…an impromptu speech given by Google’s cofounder Larry Page near the end of the first day. Standing before about one hundred attendees, Page made an impassioned speech that this new university must focus on addressing the world’s biggest problems. “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 99.99999 percent of people is ‘no.’ 1440

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’ve seen in the past; that’s what drives all the change.” 1443   •

…new technology creates greater opportunities for specialization, which increases cooperation, which leads to more capability, which generates new technology and starts the whole process over again. 1477

“[H]ow do ten trillion cells organize themselves into a human being,” asks Canadian wellness professional Paul Ingraham, “often with scarcely a single foul up for several decades? 1483

The answer, of course, is this same chain of effect: technology (bones, muscles, neurons) leading toward specialization (the femur, biceps, and femoral nerve) leading toward cooperation (all those parts and many more leading to our bipedal verticality) leading toward greater complexity (every novel possibility that sprung from our upright stance). 1487

…our species has been sending messages to one another for 150,000 years.

anyone’s words can reach everyone’s screen in an instant.

With an upgrade to a webcam and a laptop, it can happen live and in color. 1509

…improved technology enables increasing specialization that leads to more opportunities for cooperation.

…the tools of cooperation always beget the next generation of tools of cooperation. 1513

A horse can lug two hundred pounds more than thirty miles in a day, but a C-130 carries forty-two thousand pounds over eight thousand miles during those same twenty-four hours. 1523

The second cooperative tool is the information and communication technology (ICT) revolution we’ve already documented. 1524   •

economist Jeffery Sachs counts eight distinct contributions ICT has made to sustainable development—all of them cooperative in nature. 1527

…“In the world’s most remote villages,” writes Sachs, “the conversation now often turns to the most up-to-date political and cultural events, or to changes in commodity prices, all empowered by cell phones… 1529

When McEwen couldn’t determine the amount of ore he had underground, he was suffering from “knowledge scarcity.” 1568

It can be argued that because of the nonzero nature of information, the healthiest global economy is built upon the exchange of information. 1584

Hollywood produces one thousand hours of content per year. YouTube users, on the other hand, upload forty-eight hours’ worth of videos every minute. This means, every twenty-one minutes, YouTube provides more novel entertainment than Hollywood does in twelve months. And the YouTube audience? In 2009 it received 129 million views a day, so in twenty-one days, the site reached more people than Hollywood does in a year. 1598

As more and more people learn how to use these tools, they’ll quickly start applying them to all sorts of grand challenges.” 1606

This is not to say that we should ignore conservation and efficiency, but if our ultimate goal is abundance, then that requires an entirely new approach. Fresh water must go the route of aluminum… 1663

The robber barons were transformative. In less than seventy years, they turned America from an agricultural nation into an industrial powerhouse. What John D. Rockefeller did for oil, Andrew Carnegie did for iron and steel, Cornelius Vanderbilt did for railroads, James B. Duke for tobacco, Richard Sears for mail-order retailing, and Henry Ford for automobiles. There were dozens more. And while robber baron rapaciousness has received much attention, contemporary historians are in agreement: it was also these gilded age magnates who invented modern philanthropy. 2481

Carnegie believed that one’s wealth must be used to better the world, and the best way to do so was not by leaving the money for one’s children or bequeathing it to the state for public works. 2497

“Today’s technophilanthropists are a different breed. While the industrial revolution focused philanthropy locally, the high-tech revolution inverted the equation. There’s a different mentality now because the world is much more globally connected. 2518

…the best news is that most of these technophilanthropists are still young, so they’re just beginning their journey. 2613   •

To go where we need to go also requires accelerating the rate of innovation, increasing global collaboration, and—perhaps most importantly—expanding our notions of the possible. 2879

With the convergence of infinite computing, artificial intelligence, ubiquitous broadband coverage, and low-cost tablets, we can provide a nearly free and personalized education to anyone, anywhere, at any time. This is an incredible force for abundance. Imagine billions of newly invigorated minds, thrilled by the voyage of discovery, using their newly gained knowledge and skills to improve their lives. 3531

Creating a world of health care abundance means addressing the needs at both ends of this spectrum and plenty in the middle. We’ll need to provide clean water, ample nutrition, and smoke-free air. We’ll also need to extinguish already curable ailments such as malaria and learn to detect and prevent those pesky pandemics that seem to threaten our survival with ever-increasing frequency. 3562   •

…if training and graduation rates don’t change, the United States could be short 150,000 doctors by 2025. 3595

Ultimately, however, meeting the medical needs of the entire world means empowering the rising billion with the basic resources—food, water, energy, and education—while at the same time driving forward the breakthroughs outlined in this chapter. If we can do this, we can create an age of health care abundance. 3840

In many cases, we know where we want to go but not how to get there. In others, we know how to get there but want to get there faster. 4021

There are four major motivators that drive innovation. The first, and weakest of the bunch, is curiosity: the desire to find out why, to open the black box, to see around the next bend. …fear, our next motivator. …The desire to create wealth is the next major motivator, best exemplified by the venture capital industry’s backing of ten ideas, expecting nine to fail and hoping for one grand-slam winner. The fourth and final motivator is the desire for significance: the need for one’s life to matter, the need to make a difference in the world. One tool that harnesses all four of these motivators is called the incentive prize. 4030

I’ve always believed (to paraphrase computer scientist Alan Kay) that the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself, and in my five decades of experience, there is no better way to do just that than with incentive prizes. 4200

“In the beginning,” says Clarke, “people tell you that’s a crazy idea, and it’ll never work. Next, people say your idea might work, but it’s not worth doing. Finally, eventually, people say, I told you that it was a great idea all along!” 4208

Demonstrating great ideas involves a considerable amount of risk. There will always be naysayers. People will resist breakthrough ideas until the moment they’re accepted as the new norm. 4244

“Revolutionary ideas come from nonsense. If an idea is truly a breakthrough, then the day before it was discovered, it must have been considered crazy or nonsense or both—otherwise it wouldn’t be a breakthrough.” 4246

…sometimes crazy ideas are just that, crazy. Some are plain bad. Others are ahead of their time, or miss their market, or are financially impractical. Whatever the case, these notions are doomed. But failure is not necessarily the disaster that everyone assumes. 4250

Fearlessness is like a muscle: the more we use it, the stronger it becomes. The more we are willing to risk failure and act on our dreams and our desires, the more fearless we become and the easier it is the next time. Bottom line, taking risks is an indispensable part of any creative act. 4273

If your goal is to reshape the world, then how the world learns about your plan is every bit as important as the plan itself. 4282

Each of us has an internal “line of credibility.” When we hear of an idea that is introduced below this line, we dismiss it out of hand. If the teenager next door declares his intent to fly to Mars, you smirk and move on. We also have an internal line of supercredibility. Should it be announced that Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Larry Page have committed to fund a private mission to Mars, “When is it going to land?” becomes a much more reasonable question. When we hear an idea presented above the supercredible line, we immediately give it credence and use it to anchor future actions. 4291


a powerful first impression (in other words, announcing your idea in a supercredible way) is fundamental to launching a breakthrough concept. 4305

The point, however obvious, is pretty fundamental: you need to be a little crazy to change the world, and you can’t really fake it. If you don’t believe in the possibility, then you’ll never give it the 200 percent effort required. 4322

…youth (and youthful attitudes) drives innovation—always has and always will. 4335

…the power of constraints and the power of small groups. 4361

… a safe environment where people can practice stretching their imaginations, taking bigger risks, and learning to see failure as a building block of innovation rather than its anathema. 4365

So you have to wonder: what does it take to make a real difference? Not much, actually. Daniel Kahneman’s calculation has lately been extended to the rest of the planet. On average, across the globe, the point on the chart where well-being and money diverge is roughly $10,000. That’s how much the average global citizen needs to earn to fulfill his or her basic needs and gain a toehold toward much greater possibility. 4416

Twenty years ago, most well-off US citizens owned a camera, a video camera, a CD player, a stereo, a video game console, a cell phone, a watch, an alarm clock, a set of encyclopedias, a world atlas, a Thomas Guide, and a whole bunch of other assets that easily add up to more than $10,000. All of which come standard on today’s smart phones, or are available for purchase at the app store for less than a cup of coffee. 4424

We can take matters into our own hands. 4433

Abundance is both a plan and a perspective. 4439

where there is vision, the people flourish. The impossible becomes the possible. And abundance for all becomes imagine what’s next. 4442


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