If you haven’t noticed, I’m a tech-optimist. I think we can and will invent solutions to the grand challenges of our time. I am concerned about growing partisanship in America and worried about shrinking civic problem solving capacity. But, as Ray Kurzweil has pointed out, technology marches on at an exponential rate—things out the windshield are closer than they appear.
Maybe you missed it, but last year North Dakota Became Saudi Arabia. New drilling technology has recalibrated global energy reserves (and the associated geopolitics). Similarly, I’ve tried to make the case that cheap devices and personalization technology is resetting our understanding of educational opportunity.
There are two kinds of change agents—angry ones and hopeful one. The “not-on-my-watch” ones know that things aren’t the way they are supposed to be; they fight the injustice in the world. The hopeful ones work toward new solutions. A subset of them approach the world with the “abundance mindset” knowing that we’re riding an exponential curve that promises innovation.
Peter Diamandis and science writer Steven Kotler outlined this philosophy in their new book Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think. They outline four forces—exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, the Technophilanthropist, and the Rising Billion—that create new opportunities to solve old problems.
Diamandis defines the abundant future as “a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and non-polluting, ubiquitous energy” and the freedom to pursue their goals and aspirations unhindered by political repression.
The book introduces dozens of innovators, many on the board of the X Prize Foundation. I had the chance to work with many of them for two years. They are optimistic about the future, think about exponential innovation, and simply don’t recognize barriers that have stalled others.
Abundant mindsets have mapped the human genome and launched space flights; they will expand access to quality education and extend life. They might even fix Washington DC.