Video from a Live Talks Business Forum held March 8, 2012, at The City Club on Bunker Hill.

Peter H. Diamandis,
Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation,
co-founder and Chairman of Singularity University,
and the founder of more than a dozen high tech companies

ABUNDANCE: Why the Future Will Be Much Better Than You Think

Peter H. Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, co-founder and Chairman of Singularity University and the founder of more than a dozen high tech companies. Diamandis has degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering from MIT, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational (501c3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity, thereby inspiring the formation of new industries and the revitalization of markets that are currently stuck due to existing failures or a commonly held belief that a solution is not possible. The Foundation addresses the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. It motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital.

As the world’s population expands past seven billion, pessimists paint an ever bleaker picture of a resource scarce future where the gap between rich and poor will grow increasingly large. Arguing that quite the opposite is true, in his book, ABUNDANCE: Why the Future Will Be Much Better Than You Think, Diamandis has a boldly contrarian and optimistic outlook for today’s cynical times. Tech entrepreneur turned philanthropist, Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler declare that “humanity is now entering a period of radical transformation where technology has the potential to significantly raise the basic standard of living for every man, woman and child on the planet. Within a generation, we will be able to provide goods and services that were once reserved for the wealthy few to any and all who need them…Abundance for all is actually within our grasp.”

Three current forces, the authors argue, are leading our world toward abundance:

– A Do-It-Yourself (DIY) revolution of backyard tinkerers who are often outdoing governments with high-impact innovations in neuroscience, biology, genetics and robotics: Burt Rutan flew into space. Craig Venter beat the US government in the race to sequence the human genome.

– The second force is new sources of money from wealthy techno-philanthropists who are dedicating their fortunes to solving grand, 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 developing world.

– Lastly, there are the poorest of the poor, the so-called “bottom billion,” who have finally been plugged into the global economy by the internet, micro-finance, and wireless communication.

Acting together, these three forces amplified by exponentially growing technologies, are transforming the unthinkable into the now actually possible: clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and ubiquitous energy for all.

Diamandis establishes hard targets for change and lays out a strategic roadmap for governments, industry and entrepreneurs, giving us plenty of reason for optimism. Examining human need by category—water, food, energy, healthcare, education, freedom—Diamandis and Kotler introduce dozens of innovators making great strides in each area: Larry Page, Steven Hawking, Dean Kamen, Daniel Kahneman, Elon Musk, Bill Joy, Stewart Brand, Jeff Skoll, Ray Kurzweil, Ratan Tata, Eric Schmidt, Matt Ridley, Craig Venter, among many, many others. The grand challenge of our times can now be met.

His co-author, Steven Kotler, is an author and journalist. His books include A Small Furry Prayer, West of Jesus and The Angle Quickest for Flight. His articles have appeared in more than 60 publications including The New York Times Magazine, Wired, Discover, GQ, and National Geographic.

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