Bill Gates read Abundance on a recent vacation, and he recommends it!
A shout out goes to Current TV host and futurist Jason Silva, who was so inspired by the book that he created a powerful video we’re pleased to share with you.
Cooperative tools and exponential technologies are reshaping our globe. You no longer have to sit on the sidelines and wait for the future to happen. You are now empowered to get involved to change the world. If you’re sick of the doom and gloom and ready to get in the game, explore the resources below. Here are some great crowdsourcing and collaboration tools on the web:
- CoFundos (cofundos.org): cheap and really good platform for the development of open-source software.
- Genius Rocket (geniusrocket.com): solid crowdsourced creative design agency composed solely of vetted video production professionals producing content as a fraction of the cost of a traditional ad agency.
- Amazon Mechanical Turk (mturk.com): popular and powerful crowdsourcing platform for simple tasks that computers cannot perform(yet), such as podcasts transcribing or text editing. There are also companies, like CrowdFlower, that leverage Mechanical Turk (and similar tools) for even more elegant solutions.
- Innocentive (www.innocentive.com): one of today’s best online platform for open innovation, crowdsourcing and innovation contests. This is where organizations access the world’s brightest problem solvers.
- UTest (http://www.utest.com): the world’s largest marketplace for software testing services.
- IdeaConnection (www.ideaconnection.com): open innovation challenge site for new inventions, innovations and products.
- NineSigma (www.ninesigma.com): open innovation service provider, connecting clients with a global innovation network of experts.
- Ennovent (www.ennovent.com): worldwide expert platform seeking solutions for sustainable development in energy, food, water, health and education in rural India.
- TopCoder (www.topcoder.com): the world’s largest competitive software development & creative design community, with over 200,000 at your fingertips.
- CrowdRise (www.crowdrise.com): Crowdrise is an innovative, crowd-sourced community of volunteers and online fundraisers that have come together to support online fundraising for charity, events and special projects. It’s a way to raise money in new ways, turning participants and supporters into effective online fundraisers.
- Kickstarter (www.Kickstarter.com): Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. In 2011 the platform raised over $100 million for projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields. Uniquely, on Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands, it’s an “all or nothing model”.
- IndieGoGo (www.indiegogo.com): IndieGoGo you can create a funding campaign to raise money quickly and securely. This trusted platform has helped to raise millions of dollars for over 65,000 campaigns, across 211 countries.
Peter and Steven answered questions from readers of the Freaknomics blog:
We are excited to announce that Dr. Jan Teitelbaum from California won the Abundance Tell-a-Friend campaign prize! More than 2000 people participated in the campaign, by telling their friends and family about our book on Facebook, Twitter or by email, and we’d like to thank everyone who helped spread the word about Abundance. As the lucky winner, Dr. Teitelbaum will be eligible to choose either the zero gravity flight (www.gozeroG.com) or a 4-day Singularity University Executive program (www.SingularityU.org) as his prize.
Here’s what Dr. Taitelbaum said after reading Abundance:
Reading “Abundance” has brought additional joy to my life. Seeing the evidenced explained so clearing and engaging had greatly expanded my level of Optimism, potential and possibility. In my view the world is in a tough spot. The evidence in “Abundance” of how we can care for ALL the people in the world over the next 25 years is so exciting and stimulating. After living in Manhattan for 25 years, I was struck by vertical farming. Taking a dilapidated building and using it to grow food to feed the neighborhood is so beautiful. I recommend this book to my patients and family and friends. It is a must read for anyone who has a limited vision of what is possible over the next 25 years.
- NY Times, March 30, 2012
…I’m fairly certain even the most skeptical readers will come away from “Abundance” feeling less gloomy. What’s more, anyone contemplating the direction of our global society would do well to read and debate its arguments. The future may not turn out to be very bad, or even very good. We may just muddle through, with plenty of highs and lows, kind of as we’re doing now. Still, there’s a significant idea embedded within “Abundance”: We should remain aware, as writers like Jared Diamond have likewise told us, that societies can choose their own future, and thus their own fate. In that spirit Diamandis and Kotler put forth a range of possible goals we may achieve if we have the imagination and the will. A little optimism wouldn’t hurt, either.
…Diamandis and Kotler have written a frequently interesting and sometimes uplifting book. There are a number of ideas in “Abundance” that even devoted followers of technological trends may find new and reifying. The authors’ tutorial on the declining costs of solar panels and power storage, for instance, makes a nearly airtight case for clean energy’s imminent economic and environmental effects. And did you know that robotic surgeons — first developed for soldiers during battle, now used to help with knee-replacement surgeries — may be adapted to perform simple and urgent procedures in developing countries where doctors are scarce? Or that “vertical farms” within cities have a real potential to provide vegetables and fruits to local consumers on a mass scale? I didn’t.
In every region of the developing world, the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day and the number of poor declined between 2005-2008, according to estimates released today by the World Bank. This across-the-board reduction over a three-year monitoring cycle marks a first since the Bank began monitoring extreme poverty.
An estimated 1.29 billion people in 2008 lived below $1.25 a day, equivalent to 22 percent of the population of the developing world. By contrast, in 1981, 1.94 billion people were living in extreme poverty. The update draws on over 850 household surveys in nearly 130 countries.
East Asia and the Pacific: About 14 percent of its population lived below US$1.25 a day in 2008, down from 77 percent in 1981, when it was the region with the highest poverty rate in the world. In China, 13 percent, or 173 million people, lived below $1.25 a day in 2008. East Asia achieved MDG1 about 10 years ago.
In the developing world outside China, the extreme-poverty rate was 25 percent in 2008, down from 41 percent in 1981. The number of people living in extreme poverty, however, was about the same in 2008 as 1981 at around 1.1 billion, after rising in the 1980s and 1990s and falling since 1999.
South Asia: The $1.25 a day poverty rate fell from 61 percent to 39 percent between 1981 and 2005 and fell a further 3 percentage points between 2005 and 2008. The proportion of the population living in extreme poverty is now the lowest since 1981.
Latin America and the Caribbean: From a peak of 14 percent living below $1.25 a day in 1984, the poverty rate reached its lowest value so far of 6.5 percent in 2008. The number of the poor rose until 2002 and has been falling sharply since.
Middle East and North Africa: The region had 8.6 million people—or 2.7 percent of the population—living on less than $1.25 a day in 2008, down from 10.5 million in 2005 and 16.5 million in 1981.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia: The proportion living on less than $1.25 is now under 0.5 percent, having peaked at 3.8 percent in 1999. 2.2 percent lived on less than $2 a day in 2008, down from a peak of 12 percent in 1999.
Sub-Saharan Africa: For the first time since 1981, less than half of its population (47 percent) lived below $1.25 a day. The rate was 51 percent in 1981. The $1.25-a-day poverty rate in SSA has fallen 10 percentage points since 1999. 9 million fewer people living below $1.25 a day in 2008 than 2005.
Canada-Based Medicago Opens U.S. Facility to Exploit Its Influenza Vaccine Production Method…
Medicago says it’s improving the production of influenza vaccines in two ways: The firm starts with virus-like particles (VLPs) to generate a vaccine, and then it manufactures large quantities of a vaccine in the leaves of tobacco plants. Its technology platform is readily adaptable for the mass production of seasonal and pandemic vaccines, as well as biosimilars and other types of proteins.
Medicago’s manufacturing platform uses Nicotiana benthamiana, also known as Australian tobacco. In 1999, Louis-Phillippe Vezina, Ph.D., co-founded Medicago to explore the manufacturing of proteins in alfalfa plants. Dr. Vezina, CSO, named the company Medicago after the Latin name for alfalfa. Company researchers later discovered that tobacco produces higher yields of VLP-based vaccines than alfalfa.
On WallStreetJournal.com, the science writer Matt Ridley has penned a very interesting article on some of the ideas discussed in Abundance. Here are a few additional thoughts.
Ridley examines deflation, which he describes as a form of economic growth created, at least in part, by dematerialization. Here’s his example: “If the cost of, say, computing power goes down, then the users of computing power acquire more of it for less—and thus attain a higher standard of living.”
Of course, these days, dematerialization has shown up in dozens and dozens of industries—banking, cameras, stereos, encyclopedias, music, books, etc. Yet despite such progress, Ridley feels there are limits: “[C]ertain growing problems—such as caring for children and the elderly, or policing, or repairing freeways—won’t experience much dematerialization or deflation. And as dematerialized goods and services like communication get cheaper, these problems will increasingly dominate budgets, damping the acceleration.”
This may turn out to be the case, but there are certainly indicators that say otherwise. Take the DIY biology movement. The rapid acceleration in biotechnology has dropped the cost of a state of the art lab from over a million dollars just ten year ago, to less than ten thousand today. Taking advantage of this fact, DIY biologists are now beginning to solve real world problems. The winner of the 2008 IGEM competition (an MIT sponsored synthetic biology competition) built a vaccine against the virus that cause the most common form of ulcers. This type of syn bio DIY innovation is certain to have serious impact on the health and welfare of both the young and the old.
There’s also the recently announced Qualcomm “Tricorder” X Prize, which bestows $10 million dollars on the first team able to design a handheld device able to diagnose disease better than a board certified doctor. This will certainly help slash healthcare costs here at home, but in parts of the world where doctors are in short supply, this will bring a revolution in quality of care to children, the elderly, and everyone in between.
Then there’s robotics, where open source initiatives are already dematerializing costs. With a rapidly aging baby boomer population and nursing home price tags averaging between $40,000 and $85,000 annually, elderly care could easily bankrupt the nation. But many experts feel that robotic nurses are a fantastic solution (check out this Reuter’s video; or this article).
Or consider Matternet, a Singularity University spin-off attacking both of Ridley’s aforementioned problems—healthcare and freeway repair—simultaneously. Taking advantage of the fact that military-grade autonomous drones have dropped in price by nearly 99 percent over the past decade (radical demonetization), without much loss in functionality, Matternet is planning an AI-enabled network of UAVs and recharging stations housed in shipping containers scattered throughout roadless parts of Africa. Orders are placed via smart phone. For villages disconnected from the global transportation network, this means that everything from replacement parts for farm machinery to medical supplies can now be shipped in via a drone—for less than six cents per kilogram-kilometer.
There are other examples, of course, and ones that speak to Ridley’s other concerns. Dematerialization in autonomous drones has already impacted policing (as has dematerialization in video surveillance technology). Autonomous cars, meanwhile, threaten to dematerialize much of the transportation industry (taxi cabs and buses for starters). While these vehicles won’t banish the need for freeway repairs, they can be made several tons lighter than existing gas models, so will vastly reduce roadway wear and tear (and the need for freeway repairs).
None of this is to say that there won’t be issues ahead that will bog budgets and decelerate “official” progress, but with the newfound power of the DIY innovator we no longer have to wait for ”official progress,” for governments or large corporations to solve our problems. We can start to solve them ourselves. Which is, after all, the point.