March 20. 2012 10:00PM

We are entering an age of abundance

By Steve Jagler

  
Early in my journalism career, a wise old city desk editor took me aside and explained his definition of what qualifies as news.

"We don't do stories about the thousands of cats in this city who did not get caught up in a tree today. We do the story about the one cat that did."
And so we do. That's why the news is populated by stories about war, crime, drought, pestilence, abuse, floods, tornadoes, traffic accidents, plane crashes and every other kind of carnage you can think of.

Author Peter Diamandis says the human brain has evolved that way: to pay special attention to and learn from harmful experiences, so we can best avoid them or minimize the damages and perpetuate the species.
But in today's 24-hour news cycle of "if it bleeds, it leads" information, it often becomes overwhelming to the point that our perspectives are skewed by the horror of it all, and we fail to see the positive aspects of the human condition, Diamandis says.

Diamandis is the chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and launching large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Diamandis and journalist Steve Kotler are the co-authors of a new book, "Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think."

If you are in need of an attitude adjustment, I highly recommend this book.
The book documents how progress in artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials, synthetic biology and many other exponentially growing technologies will enable human beings to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the previous 200 years.

According to the authors, we will soon have the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Abundance for all will soon be within our grasp.

Looking back at the past century, the authors wrote, "This period also saw infant mortality decrease by 90 percent, maternal mortality decrease by 99 percent and overall human lifespan increase by more than 100 percent. In the past two decades, the United States has experienced tremendous economic upheaval. Yet today, even the poorest Americans have access to a telephone, television and a flush toilet — three luxuries that even the wealthiest couldn't imagine at the turn of the last century."

The exchange of information on mobile phones and tablets will further accelerate the pace of innovations and technological advancements in health care, science and education like never before, the authors contend.

As the populations of developing countries gain access to the global digital conversation, the exchange of information will further broaden, driving exponential gains in innovation.

"Moreover, the greatest tool we have for tackling our grand challenges is the human mind," the authors wrote. "The information and communications revolution now underway is rapidly spreading across the planet. Over the next eight years, 3 billion new individuals will be coming online, joining the global conversation, and contributing to the global economy. Their ideas — ideas we've never before had access to — will result in new discoveries, products and inventions that will benefit us all."

Have a nice day.

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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