Flying cars. People living forever. The cost of education, energy, and food brought close to zero.
It would sound like crazy talk if it were coming from anyone other than Peter Diamandis, creator of the XPRIZE, founder of the Abundance 360 conference, and author of the most influential books ever written about what the future holds.
In Abundance, published in 2012 and co-authored with Steven Kotler, Diamandis described how technology is bringing the bottom billion out of poverty and into a healthier, happier, opportunity-filled world. They then carried the theme forward in their second book, Bold, and returns to the ideas in their latest effort, The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives, again with co-author Steven Kotler.
“The opportunities that are coming our way in the next five to 10 years are astonishing,” Diamandis says. “Entrepreneurs need to realize that we will make more wealth in the next decade than in the entire previous century. The world’s biggest problems are also the world’s biggest business opportunities. Technology is going to transform absolutely everything, and much faster than people realize.”
Diamandis says that his purpose in writing The Future Is Faster Than You Think is to remove fear.
“The mission of the book,” he says, “is to give people a hopeful but also opportunistic view of the future. I’m trying to show where the technologies are and how things will change in every area of life.”
Diamandis ticks off transportation, health care, energy, food, insurance, finance, entertainment, and retail as among the areas that will be radically different before we know it. He speaks of the convergence of multiple forms of technology coming together to create new business models.
“Very few people,” he says, “when they were children, dreamt of working a cash register, being a parking attendant, or being a housekeeper. They probably had more aspirational objectives for their lives.
“The three Ds that will dominate the next decade are dematerializing, democratizing, and demonetizing. In other words, so many functions are moving to the digital world, where they become open to everyone, and not just a select few. At the same time, the cost of living is going to drop so radically that people won’t have to work for the sake of paying for their lives. More and more people will be able to do whatever they really want to do.”
The book explains where technology is headed, and then demonstrates how the convergence of these new technologies will enable opportunities for people that sound like something out a science fiction movie. It concludes with a section on the risks and migrations attendant to those changes.
“Take longevity,” Diamandis says, warming to one of his favorite topics. “We are approaching what’s called ‘longevity escape velocity.’ This means that for every year you grow older, science finds a way to extend your life by one year. Age becomes a treatable disease instead of a death sentence.”
Diamandis takes pains to explain that the societal shifts, due to the obviation of jobs like long haul trucker, will not be as abrupt or disastrous as people think. In the book, he notes that it will take half a century before all of today’s jobs vanish, only to be replaced by even better opportunities for people at every level of the socioeconomic spectrum.
Is he worried about a caste system evolving, creating a world of a few technological haves and countless technological have-nots?
“Not at all,” Diamandis replies. “If you look back anywhere from a few centuries to a few millennia, kings, queens, and pharaohs were the haves and everyone else lived in absolute squalor. For millennia, 99.9999% of human beings have lived in survival mode.
“Going forward, there will certainly be a small number of ‘super-haves,’ as there have always been, but everyone else will have unlimited access to healthy food, water, energy, and health care, at low or no cost. That’s something unprecedented in human history.
In tomorrow’s world, every child will be born to extraordinary opportunity. That’s a lot better than the world we know today.”
Diamandis points out that the technology tends to get radically cheaper as more people adopt it, which means that new opportunities become available to the masses at much lower price points than those paid by early adopters.
“The only people who had the first cell phones were Wall Street investment bankers,” he says. “Those phones were the size of briefcases, they cost a million dollars, and they dropped calls every two blocks. But as time went on, the cost of a phone dropped to the point where practically everyone on the planet can have a smartphone. That’s why I say, ‘democratized equals demonetized.’ The future is coming faster, and better, and cheaper than anyone can imagine.”
And these things aren’t 25 to 50 years from now. They’re literally around the corner. The book explains how and why.
For further information, and special pre-publication bonuses, including copies of Abundance and Bold for people who buy the book in advance, visit www.futurefasterbook.com.