Abundance: The Future is better than you Think
By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler
Book Notes compiled by Jane Sigford
Chapter 1: Our Grandest Challenge
The Lesson of Aluminum
In the times of Pliny he elder in the year AD 23 a goldsmith brought him an
unusual plate—It was made of aluminum. The goldsmith explained the
extraction process he used. However, because the emperor was worried
that this would cause a decrease in the value of gold, he had the goldsmith
This shiny metal was aluminum and this beheading kept the secret of
extraction quiet for 2000 years. It reappeared in the 1800s and was
considered the most valuable metal in the world.
Aluminum, behind oxygen and silicon, is the most abundant element in the
Earth’s crust, making up 8.3 $% of the weight of the world
Today it is cheap, ubiquitous, and used with a throwaway mindset.
It never appears in nature as a pure metal but is tightly bound as oxides and
silicates in a claylike material called bauxite.
Bauxite is 5.2 % aluminum, extracting the pure metal is complex.
The electrolysis process, an advanced technology made aluminum plentiful.
Speaking of new technology, now Abu Dhabi is creating a city called Masdar
to house 50,000 residents and 40,000 workers. This city will cause no waste
or release any carbon. The city will cost $20 billion to build the first post-
petroleum city. They will use solar—There’s over 5000 times more solar
energy falling on the planet’s surface than we use in a year. It’s not an issue
of scarcity, but of accessibility.
Currently, humanity uses 30% more of our planet’s natural resources than we
If everyone on this planet wanted to live with the lifestyle of the average
European, we would need 3 planets’ worth of resources to pull it off.
If everyone on this planet wished to live like an average N. American, then
we’d need 5 planets to pull it off.
OPL, One Planet Living, is an initiative based on 10 core principles to combat
Point is: through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce;
they’re mainly inaccessible. Yet the threat of scarcity dominates our
Limits to Growth
Many of our researchers have been preaching scarcity and doom and we have
adopted that mindset: Robert Malthus, Alexander King and Aurelio Peccei in
Limits to Growth, Paul Ehrlich in Population Bomb.
There are now 7 billion people on the planet. By 2050 there will be closer to
Diamandis runs a foundation X PRIZE FOUNDATION that offers huge
monetary prizes for the design and operation of large incentive-prize
competitions to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by using the
social networking connections of millions of minds around the globe
Possibility of Abundance
Humanity is 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. Abundance for all is actually
within our grasp.
African has skipped a technological generation (landlines). 70% of the
population now has cell phones which gives them access to information,
Computational systems, networks and sensors, artificial intelligence,
robotics, biotechnology, bioinformatics, 3-D 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. P. 10
There are 3 forces at work to promote this abundance.
1. DIY revolution—do it yourself backyard tinkerers can reach into areas of
genetics and robotics and circumvent governments and regulations because
they have access to information, technology, and other thinkers. Example:
Craig Venter who sequenced his own genome—ahead of the government’s
completion of the Genome Project.
2. Money—high tech revolution has created a new breed of wealthy
technophilanthropists who are using fortunes to solve global, abundance-
related challenges. E.g. Bill Gates crusading against malaria, Mark
Zuckerberg working to reinvent education, Pierre and Pam Omidyar—bringing
electricity to developing world
3. Rising billion—very poorest of the world are a huge market for new goods
and services. Because of Internet, microfinance, and wireless
communication, the poorest of the poor is being transformed into emerging
Chapter 2: Building the Pyramid
Trouble with Definitions
Must define both poverty and abundance.
Poverty—absolute poverty (number of people under certain income
threshold) and relative poverty (comparing individual’s income compared to
average income for entire economy.
Pyramid of Abundance: 3 levels 1: food, water, shelter, other basic survival
concerns; middle level—catalysts for further growth like abundant energy,
ample educational opportunities, and access to ubiquitous communications
and information; highest tier—freedom and health, 2 core prerequisites
enabling an individual to contribute to society.
Base of Pyramid
Basic need—3-5 liters of clean drinking water per person per day and 2,000
calories or more of balanced and nutritious food. Need vitamins either
through food or supplements. Need 25 liters of water for bathing, cooking,
cleaning and a durable shelter with adequate reading light, ventilation, and
If we provide, one of these, particularly water, it acts like a row of dominoes
that others challenges fall away resulting in a positive gain.
Upside of water
Currently, a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. 2.6 billion lack
access to basic sanitation. As a result ½ of world’s hospitalizations are due
to contaminated drinking water. P. 16
Bacteria causing diarrhea—4.1 % of global disease, killing 1.8 million children
a year. Right now more folks have access to a cell phone than a toilet.
Information—one of our greatest assets in defeating this problem. Also,
there is perfect correlation—as you improve health, within half a generation,
the population growth rate goes down.
John Oldfield “Best way to control population is through increasing child
survival, educating girls, and making knowledge about and availability of birth
Pursuit of Catallaxy
Next level after basic needs is education and information/communication
which raise standard of living and pave way for 2 of greatest abundance
assets in history: specialization and exchange.
Energy provides means to do work; education allows workers to specialize;
information/communication abundance not only furthers specialists to
exchange specialities, thus creating what economist Freidrick Hayek called
catallaxy: ever expanding possibility generated by the division of labor.
Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, by Matt Ridley—2 individuals do
not have to do same thing. That is what trade is about.
Energy is biggest game changer—people spend less time with burden of fuel
gathering, children can go to schools and thus lower child mortality, enhance
women’s rights, and lower population growth.
Reading, Writing, and Ready
A profound change would be to teach every child basics of literacy,
mathematics, life skills, and critical thinking.
Currently our educational systems are outdated—based on 19th century with
math and science at top, humanities in middle art on bottom. However, we
now know creative ideas are ultimate resource and our current educational
system does little to nourish this resource.
Current system built around fact-based learning—no longer necessary with
access to Google.
With advent of smart phone, education needs to be decentralized,
personalized, and extremely interactive. Decentralized means not controlled
by autocratic govts. personalized—tailored to individual, and interactive—if
you want more learning, you want more doing. Seymour Papert: “Love is a
better master than duty. Using the laptop as the agency for engaging
children in constructing knowledge based upon their personal interests and
providing them tools for sharing and critiquing these constructions will lead
them to become learners and teachers.” P. 21
Turning on the Data Tap
Information and communication impact can’t be overstated. Cell phones
produce change organically because of availability, particularly in isolated
places like some countries in Africa.
Peak of the Pyramid
Health and freedom at the top. Health and good health care are core
components of an abundant world.
Acute respiratory infections are one of leading causes of serious illness
worldwide. At risk are young, elderly and immunocompromised.
Diagnosis and distribution of health care of problems. Currently technology
known as lab-on-a-chip is under development which is packed into portable,
cell-phone sized device that will all patients to take sample of bodily fluids
and make diagnostic on the spot.
In developed world like in US medical costs go up another 8$ every year and
16.5 % of economy goes to health care. If we don’t used personalized
technologies like lab-on-a-chip, we’re going to bankrupt the country. P. 23
Lab-on-a-chip can also gather data to monitor patterns and treat them
quickly, lie flu outbreaks
Global market for personalized medicine is projected to read $452 billion.
Amartya Sen in his book Development as Freedom -- liberty moves in
lockstep with sustainable development.
Jared Cohen reached out to Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey, to reschedule its
planned website maintenance so Iranians could keep tweeting which helped
create the Arab Spring –called The Twitter Revolution” as one of top 10
Internet moments of the decade.
Many of these changes will happen in the next 25 years, but a large share
will happen in the next ten
Chapter 3: Seeing the forest Through the trees
The way our brain works provides cognitive blocks for us to accept the idea
of abundance. Some of those blocks are cynicism, pessimism, etc. al
SEE BOOK NOTES ON KAHNEMAN’S THINKING FAST AND SLOW
One bias is heuristics—cognitive shortcuts based on evolution but they may
lead to errors.
Clarity is one possible error—We tend to miscalculate distance based on the
clarity of visibility
Confirmation bias—affects our ability to see abundance because we search
for information that confirms our preconceptions, not for information that
offers new ideas
Negativity bias—our brain functions to give more weight to negative
information and experiences than positive ones
Anchoring—we rely too heavily on one piece of information when making
Cognitive biases often work in tandem which compounds the issue
Bandwagon effect—tend to do or believe things because others do
Psychological immune system—we tend to overestimate our own
attractiveness, intelligence, work ethic, chances for success, chances of
avoiding a negative outcome, impact on external events, impact on other
people, and the superiority of our own peer group.
We also tend to underestimate the world at large.
Human beings are designed to be local optimists and global pessimist which is
a big problem for believing in the idea of abundance.
If it Bleeds, it Leads
The brain sorts information. First line of defense is amygdala which is
responsible for primal emotions of rage, hate, and fear. When we are
saturated with information, the amygdala looks for something to fear.
Attention is a limited resource and our tendency to fear compounds the
attention we pay to negative information.
It’s hard to be optimistic when brain’s filtering architecture is pessimistic.
Good news is drowned out, because it’s in the best interest of media to
overemphasize the bad.
Our brain is hard-wired so that our prosocial behaviors are slower-moving
which includes the ability to demonstrate empathy and compassion.
It’s no Wonder We’re Exhausted
Man evolved in a world that was “local and linear” but today’s environment is
“global and exponential” p. 34 we have to interpret a global world with a
system built for local landscapes causing a “disruptive convergence.” P. 35
Therefore, sometimes our local and linear rains are blind to the possibility,
the opportunities it may present, and the speed at which it will arrive.
Robin Dunbar at Oxford University found that people tend to self-organize
in groups of 150 (US military units e.g.) While people may interact with
thousands of people, they actually interact with only 150 of them. Called
Dunbar’s number is the upper limit of interpersonal relationships the brain
Because the nuclear family has replaced the extended family in our society
we tend to fill the 150 slots with people we have daily “contact” like movie
stars on t.v. such as Lady Gaga. We tend to treat those people as friends
and feel like we “know” them.
The concern is What is truth?
Chapter 4: It’s Not as Bad as you Think
This Moaning Pessimism
Kahneman describes “loss aversion” We are more sensitive to what we
perceive we lose, than to what we perceive we gain. We are more afraid of
being worse off, than happy or moving toward being better off. That’s why
certain news items explode and people react e.g. flu epidemics, acid rain
Matt Ridley—optimism rather than pessimism is sounder philosophical
position for accessing our species’ chances at a brighter tomorrow in his
book The Rational Optimist
Saved Time and Saved Lives
Saved time by using light, better transportation, etc has saved us tie and
lives over the years.
We humans are living longer, wealthier, healthier, safer lives and have
increased access to goods, services, transportation, information, education,
medicines communication, human rights, democratic institutions, durable
Culture is ability to store, exchange, and improve ideas. Specialization
encourages innovation because not every person has to do everything,
allowing for more creative and exchange of goods and services.
We can now trade in a different kind of good—information.
Trade is a zero-sum game, says Dean Kamen. However, “if you have an idea
and I have an idea, and we exchange them, then we both have two ideas. It’s
nonzero.” P. 46
Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen
Hans Rosling—TED presentation “Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen” Watch it!!!!!
Gap between rich and poor is lessening. Gap between West and the rest is
Part Two-Exponential Technologies
Chapter 5: Ray Kurzweil and the Go-Fast Button
Curve on a Piece of Paper
Moore’s law—Gordon Moore described Moore’s law which states that every
18 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. His law has been extended to technology in general, not
Exponential growth in technology is happening.
Ray Kurzweil realized that technologies will be outdated by the time they
get to market. To be really successful, we need to anticipate where
technology will be in 3-5 years and base designs on that.
Google on the Brain
Kurzweil found that dozens of technologies followed the pattern of
exponential growth e.g. expansion of telephone lines in US, amount of
internet data traffic in a year, the bits per dollar of magnetic data storage.
Plus, what also grew exponentially was that they grew regardless of
whatever else was going on in the world.
He forecast demise of Soviet Union, that a computer would win the world’s
By using Moore’s law the average $1000 laptop should be computing at the
rate of the human brain in fewer that 15 years.
The faster computers help us design better technologies. Humans will begin
incorporating these technologies into our bodies: neuroprosthetics will
augment cognition; nanobots will repair ravages of disease; bionic hearts will
stave off decrepitude.
We also need to know where these expanding technologies will overlap.
SU was founded to work with overlapping technologies and train in growing
fields of biotechnology and bioinformatics; computational systems; networks
and sensors; artificial intelligence; robotics; digital manufacturing; medicine;
and nanomaterials and nontechnology. These 8 fields are potential sources
Chapter 6—The Singularity is Near
A Trip through Tomorrowland
Craig Venter—mapped his own human genome before the federal gov’t
completed the Human Genome Project in less than one year for under $100
milling when the gov’t spent $1.5 billion. –
His next success-creation of a synthetic life form. His goal—to create a
new kind of synthetic life that can manufacture ulta-low-cost fuels.
Working on a novel algae that can take carbon dioxide and water and create
oil or any other kind of fuel.
He has also spent 5 years sailing his research yacht around the globe
scooping up algae—he has built library of over 40 million different genes to
call upon for his future biofuels.
He’s thinking about engineering food crops with fiftyfold production
improvement over today’s agriculture.
The type of biotechnology is critical to creating world of abundance.
Networks and Sensors
Vint Cerg-chief Internet evangelist for Google—future of networks and
sensors. Considered one of “fathers of Internet.”
Image a huge network connecting trillions of devices each with its own IP
address, each accessible through the Internet. Suddenly Google can help
you find anything—no such thing as stolen property anymore.
Cerf creating next generation of Internet protocols (called Ipv6) with room
for 340 trillion trillion trillion unique addresses—50,000 addresses
We have prototype cars right now with AI that can drive themselves. If the
experts have it right, around 2020, we will have autonomous vehicles
operating on public roads—depending on laws that may slow things down.
Robocar evangelist—this will save lives and accident costs
AI—also for diagnosing patients teaching children will be backbone for new
Right now IBM has 2 chips to move this way—First integrates electrical and
optical devices on same piece of silicon which communicate with light which
could accelerate supercomputer performance a thousandfold. # 2 is
SyNAPSE—brain-mimicking silicon chip—able to play game of Pong, control
virtual car on racecourse, identify image drawn on a screen.
Scott Hassan—intent to build a personal robot. Have discovered 2 things:
robots harder to build than expected and more expensive.
Scott open sourced project to make use of hundreds of minds.
Obama announced National Robotics Initiative. Robotics are way to
transform American lives.
Digital Manufacturing and Infinite Computing
3D printing is now used to make everything from lampshades and eyeglasses
to custom-fitted prosthetic limbs.
A 3D printer that works in zero gravity can print spare parts when needed
at the International Space station
3D printing drops manufacturing costs precipitously because it makes new
prototyping possible. P. 69 Now we can make several prototypes with little
additional cost without having to build several prototypes to see which works
Infinite computing—because of the cloud, information is accessible anytime,
anywhere, by anyone.
We are developing Lab-on-a-Chip technology which makes diagnostics
accessible to people who have a smartphone. The difficulty will be having
access to doctors.
Besides LOC, we have artificial intelligence where you can have
conversations with someone through AI and will be able to use this
technology in their own homes.
Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology
Nanobots—can replicate themselves over and over. Nanocomposites are now
considerably stronger than steel and created for a fraction of the cost.
Single-walled carbon nanotubes are being used to boost power conversion
efficiency in solar cells.
Nanotechnology has potential to enhance human performance, to bring
sustainable development for materials, water, energy, and food, to protect
against unknown bacteria and viruses, and even to diminish the reasons for
breaking the peace [by creating universal abundance]. National Science
Foundation p. 72
Are you Changing the World?
There was no place for someone to learn about all of these breakthroughs.
That’s why Singularity University was created.
Each year graduate students are challenged to develop a company, product,
or organization that will positively affect the lives of a billion people within
Building the Base of the Pyramid
Tools of Cooperation
Roots of Cooperation
Interested in the next 2-3 decades and the 3 forces that will accelerate
change and abundance: 1) coming of age of DIY innovator; new breed of
technophilanthropist; expanding creative/market power of the rising billion.
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.
From Horses to Hercules
First cooperative tool—transportation revolution. Went from horses to
planes, trains, and automobiles that allowed transportation of information
goods, and services in real time.
2nd cooperative tool is information and communication technology with its 8
1. connectivity—with cell phones even the world’s most remote village is
2. increased diviision of labor—greater connectivity produces greater
specialization which allows all of us to participate in global supply chain
3. scale—message go over vast networks reaching millions of people in
almost no time at all
4. replication—online training or production specifications can reach distant
5. accountability—increased audits, monitoring and evaluation
6. Internet’s ability to bring together buyers and sellers
7. Use of social networking to build “communities of interest”
8. Education and training—curriculum updated almost instantaneously and
Gold in Dem Hills
Open source software such as Linux has brought together minds from all
over the world to solve problems in a way that has never happened before.
Not necessary to have “knowledge scarcity” anymore when through the
Internet there is access to minds from all over the world to bring the
brightest minds to work on the world’s hardest problems
If we were to forgo our t.v. addiction for just one year, the world would
have over a trillion hours of cognitive surplus to commit to share projects.”
Shirky, p. 83.
Healthiest global economy is built upon the exchange of information, p. 83
Film industry and example. Hollywood used to make the best films with
brightest stars. In less than 25 years digital technology has rearranged
On average Hollywood produces 500 films per year and reaches worldwide
audience of 2.6 billion. Average length of the films is 2 hours so Hollywood
produces 1000 hours of content per year.
YouTube users, however, upload 48 hours worth of videos every minute.
That means, every 21 minutes YouTube provides more novel entertainment
than Hollywood does in 12 months to an audience of 129 million view a day.
So in 21 days YouTube reaches more people than Hollywood does in a year.
We saw this in Arab Spring, which enabled radical transparency and
transformed the political landscape.
Chapter 8: Water
Water for Water
70% of worlds’ water is used for agriculture. An egg requires 120 gallons to
produce. There are 100 gallons in a watermelon. Meat is thirstiest requiring
2,500 gallons per pound.
443 million school days a year are lost to water-related disease
35 gallons to make one microchip
Energy requires 20% of our nonagricultural water in US
Dean vs. Goliath
Dean Kamen—440 patents; a DIY innovator; invented first portable infusion
pump capable of automatically delivering the same exact drug dosages that
had once required round-the-clock supervision.
Has invented a machine to purify 250 gallons of water a day using the same
amount of energy it takes to run a hair dryer.
He has entered into negotiations with Coca-cola to build, distribute, and use
its supply chain to help maintain the Slingshot (his water purifying device) so
that clean water is available in Africa.
Slingshot is built to serve 100 people, not large-scale urban deployment
Population is linked to fertility. Urbanization actually lowers fertility rates
Issue is that the most fecund population on the planet is the rural poor. It
takes lots of hands to do farm work and infant mortality is greater as well.
Of the 1.1 billion people in the world without access to safe water, 85% live
in the countryside. Of the 2.2. million children that die each year from
drinking contaminated water, the vast majority are rural as well.
A water-purifying device such as Slingshot can also be a family planning
Getting Roomier at the Bottom
Solution to clean water is not just Slingshot but is a combination of ideas.
Another is disaster readiness. During Katrina it took 5 days to get water to
refugees in the Superdome.
Designed a small bottle, called Lifesaver, to clean and filter water for
disaster relief for such things as the tsunami. But it can produce 25000
liters of water enough for a family of 4 for 3 years.
Also nanomaterials are now being used to eliminate contaminants to clean up
waterways, contaminated aquifers, and Superfund sites.
IBM and Central Glass have developed a nanofilter capable of removing salt
and arsenics which used to be impossible.
40% of Earth’s population live within 100 kilometers of a coast, combination
of nanotech and desalination holds greater promise.
Reverse osmosis holds greater promise. It is nanotechnologies that hold
such promise for the future.
Smart Grid for Water
To solve water problem our biggest opportunity is in information and how to
70% of our water is used for agriculture yet 50% of the food produced gets
5% of our energy goes to pump water, but 20% of water streams out holes in
If we had a smart grid we could save the US 30-50% of its total water use.
Computer-assisted irrigation would utilize precision agriculture to conserve
water. Could lower water use by 35-40%
When it comes to indoor plumbing, not much has changed in very long time.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have given 8 universities funding to help
bring toilet technology into 21st century
If we remove feces we solve an enormous portion of global disease burden
Toilets account for 31% of water use in US. Leaks from pipes are the
Pale Blue Dot
Carl Sagan “This distant image of our tiny world…underscores our
responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and
cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” P. 99 So today
bring on the efficiencies, take shorter showers, eat less beef, do all that we
can to preserve a currently limited resource to protect our pale blue dot. p.
Chapter 9: Failure of Brute Force
Feeding the world remains an issue. 1 out of 3 children show stunted growth
from malnutrition in developing countries. Iodine deficiency is single leading
cause of mental retardation and brain damage. Lack of vitamin A kills a
million infants annually.
Toxic herbicides and pesticides have destroyed our waterways.
Yet we have seen miraculous change in ability to produce food. Currently we
farm 38% of the land in the world
Cooking for Nine Billion
Genetic Engineering foods is powerful; stops erosion, makes better use of
water and reduces herbicide use
We have 1st generation of GE crops. Soon we’ll have versions that can grow
in drought conditions, saline conditions, nutritionally fortified, that act as
medicines and can increase yields.
Gates Foundation—led effort BioCassava Plus to take cassava, one of world’s
largest staple crops, fortify it with protein, vitamins A and E, iron, and zinc
and make it storable. It will improve the health of the 250 million people for
whom it is a daily meal.
Author and activist Michael Pollen called for open source movement for GE
Distribution is still a problem and we have to figure that out
Vertical farming is using spaces in the city to grow crops in buildings, up the
sides, etc. Reducing use of water, herbicides, because it’s indoors. It will
make use of rooftops, etc.
They are immune to weather; crops can be grown year round. Eliminate need
for fossil fuels that are used for plowing, cultivating, etc.
70% of us live in cities—vertical farms are clearest path toward ending
hunger and malnutrition requiring 80% less land, 90% less water, and 100%
Integrate a few technologies—aquaponics for closed-loop protein production;
robotic crop harvesting to lower labor costs; AI systems attached to
biosensors for better environmental regulation; continued development of
biomass energy systems; betterment and continued integration of waste
recycling systems—and we end up with gold standard of sustainable
agriculture. P. 109
Cattle are energy hogs, and land hogs—using 70% of all agricultural lands and
covering 30% of all land surface. Ranching produces more greenhouse gases
than all the cars in the world and is the leading cause of soil erosion and
Disease is another issue. Tightly packed herds of animals are breeding
grounds for pandemics.
Danger is increasing because developing nations want to eat more meat.
Now we can have in-vitro meat and aquaculture—farming our fish.
Aquaculture is now fastest-growing animal food production system supplying
nearly 30% of seafood.
Now have ability to have cultured meat—grown from stem cells which allow
us to have meat that has no danger of harmful bacteria. It is nutritionally
fortified and allows us to use and reforest the land that is currently
devoted to ranching.
Can protect and reforest the rainforest as well.
Between Now and Then
We have aquaculture, GE foods particularly with cotton, corn and soybeans.
Golden rice (rice fortified with vitamin A) is about to clear regulatory
hurdles and enter food chain. P. 113
Cultured meat and wide deployment of vertical farms probably 10-15 years
Also we are using push-pull farming which has farmers plant specific plants
between rows of corn that push some insects away or pull in beneficial ones.
Tough Row to Hoe
Have long chain of sustainable intensification backed up by agroecological
principles, GE crops, synthetic biology, perennial polycultures, vertical farms,
robotics and AI integrated agriculture, upgraded aquaculture, and a booming
business in cultured mean.
We can have abundance in food production.
Forces of Abundance
Chapter 10: DIY Innovator
Published first Whole Earth Catalog in 1968 which was a paradigm shift in
information distribution. It embraced personal technology and credited with
inventing term “personal computer” Stewart singlehandedly responsible for
American culture’s acceptance of personal computer. P. 120
His marriage of self-reliance and technology helped shape DIY innovator into
a force for abundance. He said “information wants to be free” and he also
believed that business could be a force for good. P. 121
Fred Moore—realized power in networking. Started Homebrew Computer
Club for tech hobbyists, included Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. Members
hared secrets and transformed big business and big science.
Power of Small Groups Par I
DIY innovators can now tackle problems that were once solely the purview of
big govts and large corporations.
Burt Rutan e.g. –built aircraft and outperformed gov’t in making a manned
space flight with SpaceShipOne.
Chris Anderson—started nonprofit online community called DIY Drones.
Used opensource to make heap drones. He revolutionized drone field
Drew Endy—biologist. Founded international Genetically Engineer Machine
competition—worldwide synthetic biology competition aimed at high school
and undergraduate students—Aim was to build simple biological system from
standardized interchangeable parts and operate them within living cells—
They created an algae able to consume oil spills, for example.
We have an era of “garage biology”
Social entrepreneurs are DIYers taking on big gov’t social programs. Using
social networks there are organizations such as Kiva that loans money to
small business on person- to-person basis in developing countries as a
KickStart, Martin Fisher and Nick Moon, give people the technological means
to lift themselves out of poverty—developed everything from low-cost
irrigation to inexpensive presses for creating cooking oils
They have outperformed HUD for more than 2 decades.
Have revolutionized industries with PayPal, advertising on Google, and
commerce with eBay.
Instead of robber barons such as Carnegie, we have people such as Jeff
Skoll, 1st president of eBay. He has awarded more than $250 million to 81
social entrepreneurs working on 5 continents. p. 136
“impact investing” whereby investors back businesses that generate financial
returns and meet measurable social or environmental goals.
Have hands-on approach—they also bring human capital to bear on issue.
The new breed of technophilanthropists was billionaires before the age of
35 and turned to philanthropy right afterward. They want to make a
difference with their lives.
Don’t have to get re-elected or suffer tyranny of shareholders.
How Many and How Much
Naveen Jain—founded InfoSpace and Intelius—co-chair of XPRIZE
Education and Global Development Advisory Group—focusing on reinventing
education and health care in developing world.
Gates and Warren Buffet—2 richest men in world—announced “Giving
Pledge” which asks nation’s billionaires to give away half their wealth to
philanthropic and charitable groups within their lifetime or at their death.
Paul Allen Steve Case, Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz have all signed on.
These technophilanthropists are still young and can make even more money
and more of a difference.
Chapter 12: Rising Billion
World’s Biggest Market
The poorest people—4 billion people occupying lowest strata of economic
pyramid have tremendous purchasing power if given the right tools and
things to buy.
Adding phones to this strata has reduced poverty. Adding 10 new phones
per 100 people, 48 million graduate from poverty.
Education at this level, information!!, helps empower and reduce poverty.
200 million people learned that diarrheal disease which kills 660,000 people
in India each year can be prevented simply by washing one’s hands. This
helps people stay in school, work, and reduce poverty.
For the first time this group’s voice is being heard and ideas are being
Iqbal Quadir—Grameenphone transformed life in Bangladesh by creating
cheaper phones and putting them in the hands of the BoP consumers (Bottom
Created banking system where there had been none before because of
mobile banking which has experienced exponential growth in developing
countries such as Kenya.
This empowers the individual like never before.
Using information to use crowdsourcing of tiny jobs—known as
microtasking—give the poor access to novel revenue streams that further
break poverty cycle.
The free flow of information enabled by cell phones replaces need for free
press and, as recent events in Middle East bear out, can have serious
impacts on spread of democracy. p. 147
Today’s mobile device is the new personal computer. P. 148 [What is the
ramification for education? } question mine
The World is my Coffee Shop
Coffeehouses became vehicle to share information in 18th century.
Idea sharing works really well in cities because urban spaces are perfect
The more complicated, multilingual, multicultural, wildly diverse the city, the
greater its output of new ideas. [coincides with Richard Florida’s discussion
of what makes creative cities.]
But the influence of the city is pale in comparison to the influence of the
World Wide Web. The net is allowing us to turn ourselves into a giant,
collective meta-intelligence. P. 149
Renewable energy, wireless, etc may hold the keys to addressing the
environmental challenges from the top to the base of the economic pyramid.
The influx of intellect from the rising billion may turn out to be the saving
grace of the entire planet. P. 150
Dematerialization and Demonetization
Today’s greatest commodities aren’t physical objects, they’re idea.
Fastest-growing job category is the “knowledge worker.” P. 151
Can reshape markets by making goods more accessible and profits in the
pockets of the consumer as on ebay.
Part Five—Peak of the Pyramid
Energy is arguably the most important lynchpin for abundance.
Enough solar power hits one square kilometer of Africa’s deserts to produce
the equivalent of one and a half million barrels of oil or three hundred
thousand tons of coal.
Africa has 9 times the solar potential of Europe and an annual equivalent to
one hundred million tons of oil. When coupled to its vast reserves of wind,
geothermal and hydroelectric, the continent has enough energy to meet its
own needs and export surplus to Europe.
Technology now has a way to turn ordinary windows into photovoltaic panels.
Making solar energy cheap enough for our rooftops is goal of US Energy
Sety Stephen Chu.
Solar and wind are sources of electricity but represent only 40% of
America’s energy needs.
Remainder is split between transportation (29%) and home and office
heating/cooking (31%) Of the fuel used for transportation, 95% is petroleum
based while buildings rely on both petroleum and natural gas.
To end our oil addiction, we need to displace this remaining 60%. The oil and
gas industries are very well funded and very entrenched. P. 161
Synthetic Life to the Rescue
Biofuels, particularly ethanol is disaster—caused considerable environmental
damage and replaced millions of acres of crops produced for food therefore
driving food prices sky-high.
Now Exxon developing biofuel from algae.
Algae can produce 30 times more energy per acre than conventional biofuels.
Virgin airlines already using partial biofuels mix of coconut and babassu oil.
In July 2010 Solzyme from San Francisco delivered 1500 gallons of algae-
based biofuels to US Navy and won a contract for 150,000 more gallons
Holy Grail of Storage
It doesn’t matter how heap solar energy becomes if we don’t figure out how
to store it.
Aquion Energy is building a battery that releases energy evenly, doesn’t
corrode, is based on Earth-abundant elements, and, literally, is safe enough
Nathan Myhrvold and the Fourth Generation
Myhrvold was Microsoft’s chief technology officer.
Nuclear power—current reactors are Generation II. It’s Generation Iv that
is of interest—it was developed to solve the problems of safety, cost,
efficiency, waste, uranium scarcity, and threat of terrorism.
Generation IV can even shut themselves down without human intervention
Myrvold wants a demonstration unity up and running by 20220.
How we distribute power is very important. Today we see balkanization
Cisco has made commitment to build Smart Grid, to solve this issue
In next 7 years smart grid will use IP-connected sensors and will monitor
energy use and manage demand.
So What does energy Abundance really mean.
Solar power—pollutant free. The new frontier is that we can have energy
dispersed by need that is non-polluting and even solve global warming.
“self-organized learning environments—computer workstations with benches
in front of them. Found out that if “grannies” were put by terminals to
assist, test scores improved by 25%.
SOLES are bottom up. The work is collaborative. Kids need access to
information and “grannies” to support.
One Tablet Per Child
Seymour Papert—kids learn best by doing, especially if it involves a
Negroponte believes every child loves the Internet and two, market not
really interested in low cost computer.
Negroponte learned that if computers are involved, truancy drops to zero.
OLPC influence continues to grow, particularly in underdeveloped countries.
May not have same effect in US because students here see their education
Another Brick in the Wall
Current education worried about standardization and conformity instead of
around creativity such as that advocated by Dr. Ken Robinson Out of Our
minds: Learning to be Creative . He says we are headed in exactly the wrong
direction with nat’l standards and Common Core.
Tony Wagner and Robinson say we are teaching the wrong stuff and it isn’t
sticking. P. 180
Industrial model of education in memorizing facts is no longer necessary.
We have Google
21st century is media rich and we need to use it so that learning becomes
James Gee Meets Pajama Sam
Games outperform textbooks in helping students learn fact-based subjects
such as geography, history, physics, and anatomy. Also improves visual
coordination, cognitive speed, and manual dexterity.
Interactive games are great teachers of collaborative skills.
We need to find ways to make learning a lot more like video games and a lot
less like school.
New York—New School for Design has curriculum based on game design and
Wrath of Khan
Impact of Khan Academy and flipped classroom is very powerful. Check out
the free Khan Academy website.
This Time it’s Personal
We need to change how progress is measured. We have to change these
Students perform better when coached by someone who cares about their
progress—Teachers are needed.
We need to turn teachers into coaches and change our classroom
Soon we may have AI tutors.
Better-educated people live longer and have healthier lives and create a
more stable free society.
We need to educate girls, which will help raise standard of living, reduce
birth rate, and improve economics.
Chapter 15: Health Care
Industrial Revolution started the increase toward longer lives
Information technology now also increases that trajectory
Limits of Being Human
Learning takes time and practice. The brain processes at a limited pace.
In medical school, knowledge is increasing so quickly that 5 years after
graduation, half of what one learns will probably be wrong but no one knows
No matter, we are never satisfied with our health care.
57 countries don
have enough health care works.
US will be short doctors by 2025 as well.
Watson goes to Medical School
Now have computers who can complete diagnoses remotely. IBM’s Watson
Zero Cost Diagnostics
Tape can now record information
XPRIZE offered $10 million to first team able to demonstrate a consumer-
friendly low cast mobile device able to diagnose a patient better than a
group of board certified doctors.
However, se still need to be able to treat and cure the patient. Getting
medical workers to all is an issue.
Paging Dr. Da Vinci to the Operating Room
We are using robots to diagnose in the battlefield with a telepresent
physician standing by. The robots are skilled enough to assist orthopedists
with delicate procedures such as knee replacements
Robots do allow surgeons to operate remotely.
With aging baby boomers we are looking at using robo nurses to help
boomers stay in their homes and provide medical care that is cheaper than
home health care workers. Right now they are looking at a robot costing
around $1000. Which is cheaper than a person
Mighty Stem Cell
Stem cells are going to be able to be used to correct chronic autoimmune
diseases such a s rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis ulcerative colitis,
Crohn’s disease, and scleroderma.
One of next major challenges is to grow one of the most intricate organs in
the human body—the kidney.
This fast-moving field will impact almost every clinical area
Predictive, Personalized, Preventive, and participatory.
P4 (predictive, personalized, preventive, and participatory) is where health
care his heading.
Combined with cheap, ultrafast, medical-grade genome sequencing with
massive computing power we will able to be more predictive.
Every newborn will have genome sequenced and we will be able to predict
tendency to diabetes, cancer, etc. and turn off those genes so person is not
affected by this disease.
Will also be able to turn off gene for obesity.
Participatory—each of us will be the CEO of our own health. The mobile
phone will be transformed into a major control center. To monitor what we
eat, drink, how much we exercise, etc.
Age of Health Care Abundance
A few of these technologies will first make their way to less bureaucratic
regions of developing world rather than bureaucratic USA.
Chapter 16: Freedom
Power to the People
Freedom is at the peak of the pyramid and where this book must get a little
Freedom is an idea and access to idea
It’s a state of being, a state of consciousness, and a way of life.
What’s within our scope are economic freedom, human rights, political
liberty, transparency, free flow of information, freedom of speech, and
empowerment of the individual
Wikileaks is an example of how information and communications promote
political liberty and greater transparency.
There are difficult issues such as the Great Firewall of China but the
ordinary citizen has power unlike any time in history to have himself heard
and have access to global audience.
One Million Voices
Jared Cohen. Wanted to visit Iran. Although he was now allowed access to
some things, he looked and saw the youth taking advantage of Bluetooth and
accessing information around the world. When asked, the young people said
the older generation didn’t even know what blue tooth was so they were able
to use mobile phones easily.
Oscar Morales—activist in Columbia who was able to organize A Million
Voices to turn the war
Twitter was pipeline to Arab Spring.
B its not Bombs
Internet is also fantastic recruiting tool for Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al
During Arab Spring, Egypt tried to shut down the Internet to quell revolt so
that now we talk about Web 2.0, we also see Repression 2.0.
But we can make progress together.
Part Six: Steering Faster
Chapter 17: Driving Innovation and Breakthroughs
Fear, Curiosity, Greed, and Significance.
There are 4 major motivators that drive innovation: 1, curiosity, 2 fear, 3.
Desire to create wealth, and 4. Incentive
First flight across Atlantic was curiosity. Several died trying
Power of Incentive Competition
XPrize puts out challenge in the form of money to create something that will
affect many people. Setting out the challenge creates a mindset that
anything is possible.
Power of Small Groups
Large or medium-sized groups are not built to be nimble or to take large
risks [schools for example—note mine} [This agrees with Clayton
Small groups consistently outperform larger organizations when it comes to
Power of Constraints
Actually putting a time line on a prize liberates a constraint because it
focuses energy and creates a clear target
Best way to predict the futures is to create it yourself and Diamandis
believes there is no better way to do just that than with incentive prizes. P.
Chapter 18: Risk and Failure
Evolution of a Great Idea
Sir Arthur C. Clarke says, “In the beginning 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.” P. 227
Demonstrating great ideas involves a considerable amount of risk. The road
to abundance requires significant innovation and significant tolerance for
risk, for failure, and for ideas that strike most as absolute nonsense. P. 229
Upside of Failures
Failure is not a disaster It took Einstein a thousand tries to make a light
Born Above the Line of Supercredibiltiy
Need to announce ideas in fashion of supercredibility, not doubtful, so that
people buy in.
Apple launched Think Different campaign. You need to be a little crazy to
change the world, and you can’t really fake it.
Chapter 19: Which Way Next
Adjacent Possible means that each new combination opens up the possibility
of other new combinations
Pursuit of Happiness
Abundance is not a zero-sum game and we must go away from that mindset.
Abundance is a plan and a perspective
Our perspectives shape our lives
The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.
Afterword: Next Step Join the Abundance Hub
Visit website www.AbundanceHub.com
Facebook page www.AbundanceHub.com a
There is a huge reference section with charts and graphs about the topics in the