It is one of the most frustrating parts of modern life: That human beings are capable of so much greatness yet can also be so awful. We so often choose not to address basic problems, and continually argue about how to solve the issues instead of taking action — accepting that not every project will be successful — and moving forward.
It seems that doing the right thing, helping people, eating healthfully, being financially responsible and other positives are made quite difficult by our culture (why haven't we — as smart as we are — set up systems wherein doing the right and healthy thing is also the easy, affordable one?) To me, the particular pain that causes is one of my least favorite parts of being an adult human.
If we are so smart and so talented, why can't we create abundance for all people, while preserving and protecting our environment for future generations?
But maybe I'm just pessimistic — but I would argue that I'm realistic. The optimists behind the book "Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think" (which include science writer Steven Kotler and tech entrepreneur and XPrize founder Peter Diamandis) argue that, increasingly, we have the ability to make positive changes that will uplift the whole world — and that those positive changes are coming soon.
On the book's site, this idea is described: "... 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. 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 is within our grasp."
Well, that sounds a bit different than the doom and gloom that seems to make up the majority of some people's Facebook posts (guilty!), doesn't it?
Part of the book's argument lies in lifting as much of the world as possible to higher standards of living and education, which — they assert — almost automatically means longer, healthier lives, better choices, and natural reductions in many areas that challenge social programs. "Research shows," they write, "that the wealthier, more educated and healthier a nation, the less likely violence or civil unrest among its populace, and the less likely that violence will spread across its borders. As such, stable governments are better able to stop a global disease before it becomes a pandemic. And, as a bonus, there is a direct correlation between quality of life and population growth rates — as quality increases, birth rates decrease."
And because our worlds are so connected (and will be even more so in the future): "Solving problems anywhere solves problems everywhere," incentivizing us to care about our planetary neighbors in a very real way.
How difficult it is to watch solvable problems go unsolved year after year after year. Well, if Diamandis and Kotler are right about their book's premise, maybe that won't be the case for much longer.
Related on MNN:
- Convenient truths: Climate, scarcity and abundance
- Top 10 green U.S. cities
- What the future looked like, way back when
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