Abundance Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Abundance shows you the key technological trends being developed today, to give you a glimpse of a future that’s a lot brighter than you think and help you embrace the optimism we need to make it happen.

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Abundance Summary

Published in 2012 by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, this book was an instant success with techies, entrepreneurs and science-fiction nerds. Contrary to what the news tell you, the world isn’t in such bad shape, and after reading this you’ll know why.

Abundance is a glimpse at the future and a primer for everyone, who doesn’t yet feel too optimistic about it. Followed by Bold in 2015 from the same two authors, which helps businesses create more of the technology we need to make it happen, James Altucher turned me on to this one, as he promotes an abundance mindset himself.

Here are 3 lessons to help you think abundantly in a world plagued by the scarcity complex:

  1. Forget the news and your amygdala.
  2. The world’s biggest problems will be solved simultaneously.
  3. Think inside the right-sized box, not outside the box.

Are you ready for the future? After these lessons, you’ll definitely be!

Lesson 1: Screw the news and irrational fears, today is better than ever.

If you’re convinced we’re in a permanent, downward spiral and everything’s going to get worse, all the time, no matter what we do, you’re what Peter Thiel calls an indefinite pessimist in Zero to One.

At least this state is curable, and you’re most likely in it for the two following reasons:

  1. Your lizard brain dominates your behavior.
  2. You look at the news a lot.

The first factor describes the ancient structure of our brain, which isn’t all too suited for the modern world. What Seth Godin describes as the hungry, scared, angry and horny lizard brain, which must be quieted, is truly your amygdala, your fear radar, which puts you in fight or flight mode every time it sees even the slightest threat. Most of the things that trigger it today, aren’t real threads, however, because neither a yelling boss, nor a ringing phone or pressing the publish button on a blog post will kill you.

The second part is about the news blowing everything out of proportion and focusing on the bad headlines, because shock, horror and fear get the most clicks.

Calm down, cut the news chord and look at some statistics: you’ll see the world has never been a better, safer place to live a long, healthy, wealthy and abundant life.

Lesson 2: We will solve a lot of the world’s biggest problems simultaneously.

It’s right that we face many complex problems today, but looking at them individually is a mistake. The future will sure seem hopeless if you think of our increasing need of energy, climate change, environmental pollution, population growth and world hunger as separate problems.

But they’re not.

For example, eradicating Malaria will not only mean better health for African people, it’ll also improve their economic situation, because less people will be unable to work and more tourists will flock to the continent, because it is now safer. Also, since most cases affect children, as mortality rates go down, so will birth rates. There’s no need for African mothers to bear seven children, when they can be sure that their first two kids will actually survive.

Similarly, generating high-density energy from algae, which can be grown in salt water, will not only solve the need for more energy, but also lessen the environmental burden, because less crop has to be farmed for the same purpose.

You see, the world’s most complex problems all relate to each other, which means we never solve just one of them – progress always means progress in several areas.

Lesson 3: Instead of thinking outside the box, think inside the right-sized box.

These kinds of innovations can only come from a mindset of abundance. America is often considered to celebrate failure, a culture that’s often criticized by other countries (Germany is especially skeptic of this). But USA’s “failure culture” is not about trying to fail, it’s about the freedom to experiment and the spirit to get up and try again after learning from a mistake.

Nobody ever tries to fail on purpose, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying when what you’re doing is important.

Innovation competitions with small prizes encourage the right kind of behavior, because the prizes are not big enough to warrant huge companies’s interest, but force small teams to innovate with what they’re given. For example, MIT holds a competition where teams of five people have five days to run a business experiment for $5,000 or less.

The problems we’re trying to solve stem from current limitations we can’t move past (like batteries being able to only store a certain amount of energy), so confining ourselves on purpose is how we can learn to work with what we’ve got to create something better.

It’s not so much about thinking outside the box as it is about placing yourself inside the right-sized box and figuring out how to get out of it.

My personal take-aways

You can’t help but feel hopeful after reading this. You might even want to explore a bunch of the trends outlined in this book and take a swing at a project in one of them yourself (like 3D printing or robotics).

If you need a reminder that there’s no better time to be alive than today, and why you have all the reason to be grateful, this book is the right choice.

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What else can you learn from the blinks?

  • Why big businesses won’t ruin us, but can help lift the living standard of 4 billion people
  • How the internet will change education
  • An estimated guess of how many years it’ll take for laptops to surpass our brains in computing power
  • What the Xbox has done to move you closer to having a personal robot butler
  • Which technology that is cheaper than steel (and stronger) will allow us to build self-repairing water pipelines
  • Why you’ll soon never have to buy a coffee cup, ever again
  • How social media leads to the advent of democracy and the end of oppression everywhere in the world
  • Why we haven’t seen the end of solar power yet
  • What will make farming come to the city

Who would I recommend the Abundance summary to?

The 27 year old millennial, who can’t wait to buy his first own 3D printer, the 55 year old baby boomer, who thinks the world’s best days are behind us, and anyone who’s not convinced that the future will be great.