Monday, January 23, 2012

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think


In the upcoming book "Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think" (to be released February 21) space entrepreneur turned innovation pioneer Peter H. Diamandis (featured in the video above) and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler document how progress in artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials, synthetic biology, and many other exponentially growing technologies will enable us to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the previous two hundred years.

Some factoids from the book's website:

1. A Masai warrior in Africa with a smartphone on Google has access to more information than the President of the United States did just 15 years ago.

2. The number of people living in absolute poverty has fallen since the 1950s has dropped by more than half. At the current rate of decline, it would hit zero around 2035.

3. From the very beginning of time until 2003, humankind created five billion gigabytes of digital information. In 2010, the same amount of information is created every two days; by 2013, every 10 minutes.

4. In 15 years, the average $1000 laptop should be computing at the rate of the human brain.

HT: Michael Breazeale

15 Comments:

At 1/23/2012 8:38 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...


1. A Masai warrior in Africa with a smartphone on Google has access to more information than the President of the United States did just 15 years ago.

Irrelevant to the situation at hand.


2. The number of people living in absolute poverty has fallen since the 1950s has dropped by more than half. At the current rate of decline, it would hit zero around 2035.

Except for the fact that you have eaten away and put the entire developed world in poverty by that time.


3. From the very beginning of time until 2003, humankind created five billion gigabytes of digital information. In 2010, the same amount of information is created every two days; by 2013, every 10 minutes.

Go long on storage stocks?



4. In 15 years, the average $1000 laptop should be computing at the rate of the human brain.

The brain will last much longer than some cheap trinket.

 
At 1/23/2012 8:43 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Apparently the Obama administration didn't get the memo...

Venture socialism plods on spurred by junk science: Geothermal test will pour water into volcano to make power

Renewable energy has been held back by cheap natural gas, weak demand for power and lack of political concern over global warming. Efforts to use the earth's heat to generate power, known as geothermal energy, have been further hampered by technical problems and worries that tapping it can cause earthquakes.

Even so, the federal government, Google and other investors are interested enough to bet $43 million on the Oregon project.

 
At 1/23/2012 9:05 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" ... A Masai warrior in Africa with a smartphone on Google has access to more information"

hmmm....

that means a cell tower.. and enough paying customers to justify it for investors, eh?

a company called lightsquared had a cool idea - a hybrid network of cell and sat but they ran afoul of the frequency spectrum on the ground where GPS rules.

I know..I know.. bad bad Obama... right?

 
At 1/23/2012 9:10 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"I know..I know.. bad bad Obama... right?"...

No, bad phyiscs and worse engineering on the part of LightSquared...

 
At 1/23/2012 9:17 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

I thought light squared had a brilliant idea but a deeply flawed implementation concept.

I do not think their idea is going away... it just needs to adapt to the realities.

 
At 1/23/2012 10:36 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

these are just fluffy, foolish comments by a purported "futurist" who has no actual grasp of the subject matter.

". A Masai warrior in Africa with a smartphone on Google has access to more information than the President of the United States did just 15 years ago."

totally misses the point. information is clutter. knowledge is valuable. turning the former into the latter is where all value resides.

"3. From the very beginning of time until 2003, humankind created five billion gigabytes of digital information. In 2010, the same amount of information is created every two days; by 2013, every 10 minutes"

even more totally irrelevant, this comment shows a complete lack of basic understanding of what information/knowledge is and belies preposterous cargo cult thinking.

the entire writings of JS mill take up less space than one LOLcats video on youtube. so? that makes them somehow less valuable?

measuring the value of information by size is like judging art by weight. this man is an idiot.

"4. In 15 years, the average $1000 laptop should be computing at the rate of the human brain."

wrong in almost every respect.

computers already run at a much higher "rate" than the human brain in terms of cycle time. but that's irrelevant. MIPS is not the way to measure a human brain. the kinds of connections made in a human brain have no current computer analog and cannot be replicated as such. the assumption that this is just a moore's law process issue indicates that the author has absolutely no grounding in neurology and the complexities thereof.

this guy, like many "futurists" is good at speaking in platitudes and taking some concepts he understands poorly and making them sound profound. but from what i can see, his understanding is so weak that he cannot even come to grips with the basics of the issues he's attempting to address and founders in misunderstanding, cargo cult thinking, and total misrepresentation of both issues and trends.

 
At 1/23/2012 10:42 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

While we agree with the general trend towards abundance (absent a major war), there are a few problems with the data-points.

1. Having access to data is important, but not sufficient. The information has to be useable.

2. Projecting rates of decline as a linear function reaching zero is not reasonable.

3. Mostly useless data.

4. Not unless there is a breakthrough in quantum computing, which is still unlikely.

 
At 1/23/2012 11:47 AM, Blogger reprise8 said...

"In 15 years, the average $1000 laptop should be computing at the rate of the human brain."

Read any bill coming out of Congress or your state legislature, and tell me that isn't one scary thought.

 
At 1/23/2012 12:41 PM, Blogger Eric H said...

I'll take some wagering on #2 (but not in fiat dollars). Jesus said we would always have the poor with us.

 
At 1/23/2012 4:57 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Irrelevant to the situation at hand.

Not if you are in Africa and access to information is helping your standard of living increase.

Except for the fact that you have eaten away and put the entire developed world in poverty by that time.

I thought that your poor were dying of obesity. You have no idea what real poverty is like. And your views are still very anti-poor.

 
At 1/23/2012 4:59 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Even so, the federal government, Google and other investors are interested enough to bet $43 million on the Oregon project.

I have been going to the PDAC every year for more than a decade. The geothermal companies are always there promising great riches just over the horizon. Once in a while the companies go under and are restructured. But the next year they are still there doing presentations under different names but using exactly the same pictures, studies, and promotional materials. I guess that the Goggle guys and Obama never got the memo.

 
At 1/23/2012 5:04 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

totally misses the point. information is clutter. knowledge is valuable. turning the former into the latter is where all value resides.

True but that is what is happening. You have kids from Africa learning math by logging on Khan Academy and accessing free homeschooling material issued by churches, charities, and private organizations. The more advanced students can even go to the Yale or MIT e-lectures or tune into Mises University and learn the economics of the real world.

even more totally irrelevant, this comment shows a complete lack of basic understanding of what information/knowledge is and belies preposterous cargo cult thinking.

I agree that much of what was said was fluff. But there are many people out there who are actually very smart and can sort out what is important from what isn't. For them the access to these tools is actually very useful. We have to look beyond the hype and the wishful thinking to see if there are some points being made that actually make some sense.

 
At 1/24/2012 3:37 PM, OpenID Sprewell said...

Agreed with a lot of the criticisms of the listed points. I'll note that the real use of something like internet access on your cellphone in the middle of nowhere is that it spreads market prices everywhere. For example, farmers in India use internet access to find out the real market prices for their vegetables in the big cities, so they don't get screwed over by the suppliers who deliver their goods to market. These farmers have little use for all the other information out there, and probably can't afford internet time to read very much of it, but such focused and highly useful information is now available to them where it affects them the most, the bottom line. :)

 
At 1/24/2012 3:47 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

this sounds interesting:

Orange to Bring Free Wikipedia Access to Cell Users in Africa and Middle East

 
At 1/25/2012 9:56 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Sprewell: For example, farmers in India use internet access to find out the real market prices for their vegetables in the big cities, so they don't get screwed over by the suppliers who deliver their goods to market.

Very good point. More people have realtime access to important information such as market prices, and oh, soccer scores.

 

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