“The best way to become a billionaire is to help a billion people.” – Peter Diamandis
If you read last week’s post about two billion jobs being lost to artificial intelligence and robots, a reaction may have been to run for the hills and hide. The future may resemble any one of the dystopian plots portrayed by Hollywood blockbusters as of late. Today, I want to present a completely different take on the future—one of abundance and opportunity.
I just finished a book by Peter Diamandis, one of Singularity University’s founding members, called Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think. He challenges us to set aside our fears about the future and look at the positive progress society has already made. Mr. Diamandis thinks that the present is way better than the past, and the future will be orders of magnitude better than we can imagine. On top of that, this wonderful future will come faster than we expect because of the exponential nature of technology.
Mr. Diamandis also points to a fascinating BBC video presented by Hans Rosling called, “200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes.” In the video, Mr. Rosling explains statistically (and in a clear, visual way) how the quality of life has improved for most countries over time. His conclusion is that the human population is getting healthier and wealthier and the trend will continue until all countries reach the “healthy and wealthy corner.”
Abundance also makes the case for C.K. Prahalad and Stuart L. Hart’s ground-breaking paper, “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid,” where trillions of economic potential could be unlocked by empowering the bottom few billion of impoverished peoples. Mr. Prahald expands further on this topic in his later book of the same title:
“If we stop thinking of the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognizing them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers, a whole new world of opportunity will open up.”
Many people worry about the world’s resources in relation to the rising billions. Mr. Diamandis disagrees with this thinking and feels that technology will be the catalyst to a better future:
“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 . . . the advancement of new, transformational technologies–computational systems, networks and sensors, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, bioinformatics, 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.”
Mr. Diamandis is trying to change our frame of thinking from one of scarcity to one of abundance. We need to ask ourselves the question, “How do we make things abundant?” Take energy for example, we spend a lot of money using dirty fossil fuels, however, our world is bathed in free and clean energy every day in the form of sunlight. The trick is to figure out a way to convert this abundant energy source into an affordable one. Another example is access to clean water. About 71% of the world’s surface is covered in water, however 96.5% of it is held in our salty oceans. How do we desalinate or purify this water in an affordable way?
What is exciting about the concept of solving the world’s grand challenges is that many of these global problems are also local problems. Here in Florida, we are concerned about the safety of our freshwater springs and aquifers. If we can solve this problem locally, we could potentially share or franchise the solution to the world. This way of thinking can be applied to just about any problem, which is why I feel it is so powerful. I encourage the community to explore our world’s grand challenges and think about a way we could solve them locally. This is how we can begin to change the world and ensure our future prosperity.