I just finished reading a book called Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. It’s great. It is a powerful and compelling palliative for the pessimism and spiritual malaise of our current business trope. And offers a tonic for the psyche of entrepreneurship.
This book is full of counterintuitive things that are quite astonishing. Essentially the Diamandis/Kotler message is one of almost messianic, but not irrational, faith in the future. Particularly faith in technology and entrepreneurship. Let me relate just two quick examples.
Abundance cites the wondrous capabilities of the cell phone. It points out that a Masai warrior with a cell phone in the remotest part of Africa, with access to Google, has better telecom abilities than the President of the United States did 15 years ago. Abundance posits that, by the end of 2013, 75% or so of world population will have access to instantaneous, low-cost communications of every kind.
Or how about this? Diamandis/Kotler point out that, of every word and image recorded from the beginning of civilization to 2003, the total information could be recorded on five exabytes. (An exabyte is one billion gigabytes or one quintillion bytes. Whatever that means. Numbers like these are beyond my ken or imagining.) But that is nothing. Between 2003 and 2010, five exabytes of digital information were produced every two days. Abundance predicts we will be producing–get this–five exabytes every ten minutes by 2013.
Diamandis/Kotler convincingly predict the end of poverty! At our current rate poverty will mostly be a thing of the past by 2035. The logic being that poverty has decreased by half since the 1950s. They point out that groceries cost 13 times less than in 1860. They predict 200 years of progress in the next 20 years.
SO WHAT DOES THIS BOOK SPECIFICALLY SAY TO YOU AND ME, THE ENTREPRENEURS?
Well, it says three compellingly convincing things:
- There is hope. In the midst of current cultural pessimism about the future, every entrepreneur I know is involved with trying to do the impossible every day. That impossible thing is creating something out of nothing. Healthy entrepreneurship is nurtured in a petree dish of passionate hope and optimism.
- Abundance gives strong quantitative evidence that entrepreneurs and innovators will inexorably succeed for all mankind, if not excessively hindered by politics and bureaucracy.
- With heavy scholarly documentation Diamandis/Kotler point out that negative bias is a tendency of human beings (including entrepreneurs.) Their overarching point is that optimism is a much more logical and accurate way to see the world.
If you wish to get a more global, historical view on this subject, please read The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley (2010–Harper Collins.) It’s an admirable companion piece to Abundance. I highly recommend it.
In an interview with Sam Harris two weeks ago, Mr. Diamandis responded thusly to the question, “What do you hope people will get from reading your book?” He responds, “The first is hope. You can’t change the world if you don’t believe it’s changeable.”
Thank you, Peter Diamandis.