Book Review: Abundance

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Diamandis, Peter H. and Steven Kotler. Abundance : the future is better than you think. Free Press, 2012.

In any large family, you see a variety of social attitudes, political opinions and perspectives about the future.  In my own family, some of the young men are buying guns and stockpiling food, so they will be ready in case of a terrorist attack or environmental collapse.  Fortunately, the man who shares my home is far more optimistic.  A new book, Abundance, is written for optimists like him.

Innovation pioneer Peter Diamandis and science journalist Steven Kotler begin their book by discussing scarce resources, those which are inaccessible with available technology.  Through radical breakthroughs in science and engineering, resources which were considered scarce just 30 years ago, including energy and food, are now readily available, and relatively cheaply too.  Access to communication and information is abundantly available thanks to cell phones and the internet; and they are available to much of the underdeveloped world at low cost. The world is being transformed, resulting in a rise in living standards for every person on the planet.  In the authors’ view, within a generation, “we will be able to provide goods and services once reserved for the wealthy few, to any and all who need them.  Or desire them.  Abundance for all is actually within our grasp.”

Diamandis and Kotler describe the forces that are driving positive changes in our world.  First is the exponential change of technological advancement. In addition, innovation has become democratized and DIY inventors are revolutionizing science fields from robotics to renewable energy. Also, billionaires turned philanthropists like Bill Gates are investing their fortunes and management skills in solutions to third world problems, improving access to health care and education.  And lastly, the market power of the developing world is itself bringing about positive change.

If the Mayans are wrong and we make it through next week, I recommend this book to end your year with hope.   As the academic year closes, this is my last book review of 2012.  Students, good luck on your final exams.  I wish a happy holiday and years of abundance for 2013 and beyond.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
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