Abundance, the Future is Better than you Think
Abundance, the Future is Better than you Think, is a positive, lengthy book by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. It carries a very simple message: the potential for exponential technology is bringing unprecedent hope to the future of mankind within the next 25 years, and everyone is both a beneficiary of such freedom and a potential contributor to make the world a better place for everyone.
The book distinguish itself by a very positive view point distinctive from the gloomy future envisioned by environmental scientists and general public. It points out the numerous cognitive biases commonly existing. We have the negativity bias: the negative facts tend to appear more important and have more impacts on us psychologically than the corresponding neutral facts and positive fact. If it bleeds, it leads, so human is drawn to pessimistic. Good news doesn't catch our attention. We hold affirmative bias: we tend to validate pre-existing notion while disregarding contradicting information. We are subject to the bandwagon effect: influenced by the opinions of others even though others don’t necessarily have better judgement nor have superior knowledge. Furthermore, we are just unable to predict future with insufficient statistics. Our psychological immune systems play the trick to protect our own positive well-being, at the expense of our overestimating ourselves while underestimating the world at large. All these factors contribute to a pessimistic view point of world future, despite the incontestable and auspicious statistics showing less actual poverty, higher education, higher life expectancy, and better material life than half a century ago.
With an apparent intention to offset the overwhelming negativity perceived by many, the authors appeal to the younger generations who are not bound by pessimism. Peter Diamandis’s own experiences speak louder than words. His areas of expertise range from space exploration to biology, physics, medical, and his achievements include being one of the founders of numerous space universities, space launcher companies, bio-medical companies and NGOs.
This message of positiveness and self-powering somehow sound very familiar with my childhood memory, something I learned in grade school in China. Well, it was claimed and widely believed then that under the reform and openness policy, with the hardworking, we will exponentially achieve great success and everyone will live happily ever after. This promising future and personal contribution even sound like a promising Sunday preach, merely replacing technology advancement with God and switching inspired DIY entrepreneurs with sincere followers.
The difference of the message to China dream and religious dream is that it promises deliveries as early as “the next 25 years”, rather than benefits acquired generations later or after-death. It is rather bold and seems too good to be true. Logically speaking, hidden treasures won’t be easily discovered by children in the sandbox of park playgrounds. For this reason, this is more likely to be a book intending to be inspiring like a self-help book, rather than a scientific book with balanced arguments and research.
Technologies themselves are neutral. “Nobody over thirty knows what Bluetooth is”, that’s how the Iranian youth get access to internet despite the rigid control of Iranian government. However, such youth and exponential technology could very well be used by the government of Iran to further block and censor the information and comunications, making the gaps even bigger. Actually, those countries that block the usage of twitter and Facebook will likely continue their practice. Besides, there is no guarantee that governments in richer regions would not exploit the rest of the world through technology advantages using export control and intellectual property and other technology weapons. As to education, in a specific country, it is plainly getting harder for students from disadvantaged families to catch up with their middle-class peers. Technology merely provides possibilities in theory, but not actual results as we see, and there is no surety that they will merely be used for moral, respectable and humanitarian purposes.
Nevertheless, in the next 25 years, I do believe that we will witness lot of progress brought by technology development, and young generations have a lot to contribute to society, using the available resources. For this reason, it is a good book for readers in large, especially for teenagers, as it will likely have the effect of optimizing teens’ performance and output.