Recently the annual TED conference took place in Long Beach California. I have long recommended its famous 18 minute TED talks. Check out TED.com/talks, they cover a wide range of topics including science, technology, design, business, global issues and they have recurring themes of inspiration, challenge, and optimism. Not unlike what I try to do with this radio show.
On opening day the recent conference scheduled two talks one after the other. The first by Paul Gilding entitled The Earth is Full asked questions like Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Gilding suggests we have with the possibility of devastating consequences. In a talk that’s equal parts terrifying and oddly hopeful, he says “It takes a good crisis to get us going. When we feel fear and we fear loss we are capable of quite extraordinary things.”
That talk was followed by one by today’s guest, PETER DIAMANDIS, entitled Abundance Is Our Future in which he makes the case for optimism — that we’ll invent, innovate and create ways to solve the challenges that loom over us. “I’m not saying we don’t have our set of problems — problems – climate crisis, species extinction, water and energy shortage – we surely do. But ultimately, we knock them down.”
Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But, according to a new book by Diamandis and co-author Steven Kotler, it is closing-fast. In Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, they 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. They believe we will soon have the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet.
MARK HERTSGAARD, a fellow of The Open Society Institute, The Nation's environment correspondent, covers climate change for Vanity Fair, Time and Die Zeit and has written for many of the world's leading newspapers and magazines. He is the author of the highly acclaimed study of the media during the Reagan years, On Bended Knee, as well as Earth Odyssey; A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles; The Eagle's Shadow, and his newest, HOT: Living Through the Next 50 Years on Earth.