Blog 014. (English version)
The book I have chosen for this time is called…
The future is better than you think
The book was cowritten by…
(The founder of X Prize, award winning engineer, physician, and innovator.
He was also selected as one of「The world’s 50 Greatest leaders」in the FOURTUNE magazine in 2014)
(Journalist / a columnist who writes for “The New Yoker” magazine, and entrepreneur)
This book has been published with the title of
「2030；prepare for an arrival of the world where everything will accelerate 」
I have checked some blog posts and YouTube channels which are featuring the summary of Japanese-translated version of “Abundance” just as a reference.
But having read the original one, it seemed to me that the Japanese version was as if the translator had simply picked some technology-related keywords from the book, and just added his own knowledge with his views rather than translating authors’ opinions or information they have given…
(Even a table of contents looked pretty much different!)
Well, anyway, what I felt after I have read such an overwhelming book is…
if you neglect collecting information about what is going on around us in this fast-moving time, you will be left behind pretty badly.
It has been almost 10 years since the book was first published, therefore the information you get from here is not the latest.
However, this must be the appropriate book to find out the process of how all these modern technologies have been developed to the current stage and have contributed to what is going on around the world now.
(Seriously, everything is shifting way too fast these days!)
Well, I need to tell you one thing before you actually start reading, which is…
“This book is deadly rich in content!”
…hence, this time’s my blog post is with lots more words than the last one.
(But I presume if you are the fast reader, you can read through within 10 minutes or so…)
And as I mentioned above, I felt a bit of “gap” between the original and Japanese translation.
(I am only judging this from the summaries with somebody’s blog posts and YouTube channels I have checked… just in case),
so, I decided to summarise the content of original English version!
“My masterpiece of the summary!” w
By the way, I remember I mentioned like…
“Keep reading without looking into dictionary each time you bump into new vocabularies”
while I was introducing the book called “THE 100-YEAR LIFE”.
However, this time’s book “Abundance” covers lots of areas under its theme, hence there are several keywords in the content of each field.
Therefore, I must say it will be a pretty difficult task for beginner levels to read this book, and they are going to have to investigate them loads of time.
However, it’s worth getting yourself familiarised with all these keywords of modern age in English if you really feel like giving it a go.
Anyway, good luck!
“Technology will overcome all difficulties!“
Because our current society is surrounded with lots of issues such as Climate change, exponential growth of human population and food shortage, disappearing resources, the danger caused by advanced technology, and so on, there is a certain pessimism in the air.
And this atmosphere has been implanting the idea like…
“Our planet is heading for its ending”
on people’s head.
However, the book says that the reason why such a negative idea has been brought about is because there is this section called
in our brain, and this nervous structure keeps us on full alert whenever we get close to danger, and it tends to react defensively.
Moreover, medias are deliberately promoting disastrous or threatening news day by day, therefore people’s pessimistic viewpoint will grow further and further.
But if you compare the present with the past, the quality of our life has become dramatically better thanks to the development of modern technology,
therefore if you stay positive and keep developing our technologies,
everything will be eventually sorted, and we will be absolutely fine.
…this is a sort of opening message…
Up to this point, it looks like… such a country which has been leading capitalism since 20th centuries, abusing natural resources with causing environmental degradation everywhere,
(well Japan, too and so have other developed countries…)
is now facing with natural disasters such as flooding, forest fire, tsunami, and so on,
and to avoid the criticism from the other countries, they have picked up a part of brain’s functionality to evade their pursuers…
and then they conveniently have placed themselves as a leader who is setting up an event to save the world by calling inventors from all over the world
who could bring further technological development in time which can be the final seeds of salvation…
It looks like the Mafia boss surrounded by business leaders trying to say very nicely with unnatural smile
“Hello people, let’s get together and save the world with us!”,
instead of saying like…
“Yo, you know you guys are accomplice, so you need to give us a hand, don’t ya? or otherwise… do you know what I mean?
We’ll cut down eating beef steaks for a few weeks and will even tell all the cattle to stop burping, so let’s do business!”
Sorry but I’m completely biased, aren’t I? …w
It’s been a while since President Joe Biden has taken office, but because the impression the former American president had made on me was so bad and huge, good sides of the country have been pretty much overshadowed …
I’m gonna have to read Obama’s book…
(This book “Abundance” was released in 2012, five years before Donald Trumps presidency (2017-2021), just in case…)
Well, we cannot deny the fact that the quality of our life has gone up exponentially comparing with how it was hundred years, or even ten years ago…
the exponential improvement in Health care, exponentialdrop in infant mortality, exponential extension of human life, flush toilet, safe drinking water, PC, mobile phone, air conditioning, electricity, transportation facilities,
and so on and on…
*the word “exponential” which you will see every time you turn the page, means…
“(of an increase) becoming more and more rapid.“
From Oxford Languages
Having said such things above, it’s true that we are all “accomplice” if we live in one of the developed countries and are getting benefits from all these modern technologies.
Besides, we are all reluctant to lower our standard of living…
Therefore, we must believe that the issues caused by the development of technologies are to be solved by further development of technologies…
So, let’s check them out!
“Building the Pyramid of Abundance“
On page 14, the authors are featuring American psychologist
“Five levels of human needs”
which is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs.
(It is often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid like below.)
Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler have remodelled the pyramid with three tiers to achieve the theme of this book “Abundance”.
Pyramid of Abundance / Level 1 (bottom level)
The situation in which there is more than enough of something
From Cambridge dictionary
“Abundance is an all-inclusive idea. It means everyone. It means individual must matter, and matter like never before.”
This is the vision authors have got.
The bottom level of the pyramid is fundamental demands for human being to survive, which are…
While there is this fact that the Americans those who have a television, telephone, electricity, running water and indoor plumbing in a particular state are categorised as
“below the poverty line“,
most Africans do not have these.
And for instance, average daily living cost in Somalia is said to be less than $1.25.
Considering the fact like this, to be able to achieve the “Abundance” with individual level, developed countries need to give a hand to developing countries so that people live there can get daily necessities to survive.
According to Bill Gates, improving the standard of living in developing countries helps controlling population growth.
Because the reason to form a big family derives from their instinctive thought of how many of their kids will make it.
The fact that if people’s standard of living in developing countries improves, the number of children they give birth decreases, has been proved by last 40 years’ each countrie’s survey.
Providing clean drinking water for those who need is top priority.
Most of the disease they suffer is due to the contaminated water with infectious agents they drink, and this is the main reason children over there cannot survive.
There is this guy called Dean Kamen (self-taught physicist), and he has succeeded in inventing a distiller for clean water out of his study of kidney dialysis.
Its current version, called “Slingshot” can purify 1,000 litres of water per day with only energy to run a hair dryer.
Since 2011, he has been helping to provide clean water to developing countries by producing “slingshots” on commercial scales with the help from Coca-Cola company.
Another guy called Michael Pritchard who is an English engineer was wondering if there were any ways to provide clean water for the survivors of natural disaster such as tsunami and hurricane other than shipping water to the site.
Eventually, he invented “Lifesaver bottle” in which the “nanotechnology” has been adopted with its filter.
(The filter is said to be able to capture not only bacteria but viruses and other pathogens.)
By the way, the “Nanotechnology” is one of the important keywords of 21st Century we will have to know.
Nano is a unit prefix meaning “one billionth / 0.000 000 001” and is about the length that a fingernail grows in one second.
(Umm… it’s very hard to imagine!)
With the further development of nanotechnology, the company called NanoH2O has succeeded in extracting 70% more water with 20% less energy compared to the previous desalination method.
The food shortage is another serious issue.
We will need twice more production of the crops by 2050 if we are going to keep up with current population growth rate.
However, 80% of arable land has been already used, and moreover it is estimated that the crop production will be declining by 10-20% in the next ten years due to climate change.
(We must have caught all these natural disasters happening in the news by now.)
Anyway, ”Vertical Farming” is a positive solution to this problem.
Crops can be grown inside skyscrapers or abandoned warehouses in the urban environment by using shelves.
Employing clean-room technologies has also made it possible to keep them away from pests (no pesticides or herbicides needed) and the fossil fuels used for delivery can be cut down by growing them near consuming area.
Protein from the meat is also essential to keep our optimal health.
However, ranching is said to be one of the deadly issues which is killing our planet.
(Cattle’s burping causes more greenhouse gases than all the cars in the world, it is said.)
Although we might see lots of people are going for becoming vegetarian or vegan, the carnivorous consumption in the world is actually growing yearly.
“Cultured meat” (or “In-vitro meat”) is something scientists have been working on to produce meat without slaughtering animals.
According to the book, Winton Churchillhad said in 1932,
“Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.”,
but this is becoming a reality.
The “Stem cell” whose characteristics include differentiating itself into various types of cells and proliferating indefinitely to produce more of the same stem cell, has been used to grow this cultured meat…
And it looks like the meat was already for sale in Singapore in December 2020! Wow!
Soon it will be on our dinner plate, I presume…
Pyramid of Abundance / Level 2 (middle level)
The next level of the pyramid is about…
Access to communication and information.
Energy shortage on our planet is deadly, however if we could overcome this field, we will be able to use electricity.
Hence this will lead to the development of education, creating jobs, and solution for the issue of poverty in the end.
According to The United Nations, one and a half billion people live without electricity,
and three and a half billion still depend on primitive fuels such as wood or charcoal for cooking and heating.
An American venture entrepreneur Andrew Beebe believes solar energy is the most powerful resource.
He has been working on installing PV (photovoltaic) panel since 2003, and now that the panel has been sold all over the world.
It is said that for every cumulative doubling of global PV production, costs have dropped by 20%.
And then, further progress has been made by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) with this genre.
Engineers at MIT have succeeded in creating hundred times more efficient PV panels by using carbon nanotubes… means, less panels are needed…
(Well, not a great news for Andrew Beebe as a business…?)
And furthermore, another company has discovered a way to turn ordinary windows into PV panels by using the world’s smallest organic solar cell!
There is no need for installing panels on the roof anymore.
The technology for solar energy has been kept evolving!
People are also working on creating energy from Biofuels.
There is this idea of using the “bio oil” extracted from algae with its photosynthesis, and now, scientists are designing an artificial photosynthesis process.
And finally, the recent technology has created safer and more effective nuclear power, so this is another good news.
Right, we are moving on to the “Education”.
In the developing countries, the issue is more about having an appropriate environment to learn rather than educational system itself.
So, what is the solution to this?
The answer might be providing children affordable computers.
An architect named Nicholas Negroponte hit it off with a mathematician called Seymour Papert who had insisted that kids learnt through “doing” rather than through “instruction”, and especially when “doing” involved computer.
After they had worked together for a few years, Negroponte took their experience further and started activity called
“One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)”
It is said that laptops had been delivered to three million children around the world by the point of this book’s publication.
On the other hand, kids’ truancy and dropout rates are dramatically increasing due to school’s unmotivating learning process in the developed country.
Nowadays, a new learning method which could be just like playing the games with some kind of addictive element is required and having Khan Academy (Online school on YouTube channel created by Salman Khan) at the head of the list, the education seems to be shifting towards online direction.
For those who prefer to have learning process with something more physical but machine-based, an always-available, always-on AI tutor is on its way. (…I want to have that!)
As for the “access to communication and information”, it is pretty obvious.
The computer which came out in 1982 with the weight of almost 13kg, and the price of 2,500 dollars (approx. 217,000 yen), has been evolved a lot since then,
and now we have mobile phones…
And in the future, with the idea of “technologies into our bodies”,
Google’s cofounder Larry Page is planning to
include Google in people’s brains
so that the question will be automatically sorted when it arises.
Sounds very scary…
Pyramid of Abundance / Level 3 (top level)
comes on top of the pyramid.
Many people (especially young children) in the developing countries are dying from a disease which has been able to be treated for almost a century in the developed countries, just because simply the infection goes “undiagnosed”.
The reason why they cannot have simple blood tests is not just because they are extremely expensive, but it’s…
because the public transportation does not really exist in the developing world,
so it’s hard enough for most people just to get to the doctor in the first place.
In order to sort out this problem, currently a technology known as Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC), which is a cell-phone-sized device capable of diagnosing people on the spot with a fairly short time by taking a sample of bodily fluid (very simple so that patients can do it by themselves), is under development.
On the other hand, medical errors in hospitals are another issue.
It is said that tens of thousands of deaths are caused yearly because of this.
(Only 55% of adults receive recommended care, 45% receives wrong ones.) (…is it seriously?)
Even if a supercomputer, which could perfectly analyse patients’ condition from their data within a second, is created, it won’t work if the data itself is faulty.
Besides, accurate data cannot be collected just through the conversation with the patient.
Therefore, at the end of the day, you need to rely on the things like X-rays or CT scans which cost performance does not much up with the situation in the developed countries.
But here, the fact that when Scotch tape is peeled in a vacuum, X-ray will be generated, has been discovered.
This has led to an innovation of X-ray device which is half the size of a thumb drive and costs less than $1!
In the future, it is expected that the “bra-like” object with this X-ray device will be posted to the patients, and when they receive it, they simply wear it and switch it on.
They can simply follow the doctor’s instruction online and send it back once it has been done. Minimum cost performance!
There are lots more from “Robot nurse” to “Stem cell treatment” to “Organ 3D printing” to “DNA sequencing treatment for injury and disease”, and so on and on…
Totally different world from 20th centuries!
And finally, after all these necessities have been achieved, it is “Freedom”!
But “Freedom” involves lots of things such as “Freedom of expression”, “Fundamental human rights” and so on…
As globalization progresses, to be able to exchange information freely has become crucially important for everyone in the world, therefore the United Nations declared that the “access to the Internet is a fundamental human right’ in 2011. (Page 206)
Another important keyword here is…
ICT (information and communication technology)
The websites which adopted this ICT such as “Ushahidi”, “World is Witness”, “WikiLeaks”, “Enough is Enough”, and so on have played great roles with reporting activities against fundamental human rights, informing critical situations, monitoring elections, etc.
There are also cases that the nation’s crises were avoided by using SNS such as Twitter and Facebook.
The problem about the freedom with ICT is that both good and bad can access them, so things are not that easy…
“Here is to the crazy ones”
To be able to dedicate yourself to something uncertain whether its result could be a success or could end up with a total disaster, some sort of stimulus is required to boost up and maintain your motivations.
Like when Charles Lindbergh had succeeded in flying from New York to Paris in 1927, whenever something unprecedented was achieved,
has always been playing a great part.
The co-author of this book has set up X PRIZE for exact the same purpose to see record breaking achievement. And he is convinced that the ones will come from small groups rather than large organizations.
Large organizations have a lot to lose and cannot take risk, while small groups have not much to lose in the first place, therefore, they have a greater chance of achieving the mission impossible with even lower cost.
Another element for reaching impossible is that the ones need to be a little bit crazy
and reckless who are not fond of rules and are often in the world with constraints. So that is why the prize competition is often with deadline…
Well, this is it for the summary of “Abundance” with my version.
Thank you very much for reading patiently till the very end.
Speaking English has become more and more compulsory in our current changing world.
This book is full of technology-related keywords we should know to survive an exponential future, therefore getting yourself familiarised with these words in English will be a great advantage for you.
I absolutely recommend you reading this book!!!
Anyway, see you soon.