Peter Diamandis recently spoke with The WorldPost about his new book, “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World.” He is also founder of the XPRIZE Foundation and co-founder of Singularity University, Planetary Resources and Human Longevity Inc.
WorldPost: What differentiates this digital era of what you call “exponential transformation” from the earlier industrial era of “linear” change? Why is change so much more accelerated and expansive?
Diamandis: Industrial production was basically a one-for-one proposition. If you wanted to double your output, you doubled the number of factory workers or the amount of machines.
In the digital age, the marginal cost of replicating data is near zero and the marginal cost of distribution is near zero. You can produce and distribute an app, a document, or a service a million-fold or a billion-fold at almost no new incremental cost.
So today, any single individual can impact the lives of millions or billions of people without the huge costs of capital, as used to be the case.
The curve of change — which I boil down to 6 “d’s” — is exponential because culture makes progress cumulative. Innovation occurs as humans share ideas. You build on my idea; I build on yours.
WorldPost: Isn’t there also a competing future out there? Exponential degeneration is also possible. After all those magnificent world expos of the industrial arts at the turn of the 20th century, WWI erupted in 1914 in three months, from June to August. Today signs of splintering are all around in revived nationalism and geopolitical blocs, ardent religious war. ISIS, after all, spread across the Mid-East in a matter of months.
Diamandis: Yes, we have ISIS. But the data overwhelmingly suggests the future I’ve been describing.
One big problem is that the news media has a grip on our imagination. The fundamental function of the news media is to deliver every piece of negative news to my living room in high definition over and over again. It’s a drug pusher that fuels our instinctual addiction to paying more attention to negative news instead of positive news.
Sure, there are lots of problems. But the world is getting better in extraordinary ways we’ve never seen before. Though you wouldn’t believe it from the headlines, violence per capita of the global population is at its lowest point in history. Food, water, sanitation, health — all have improved dramatically over the last century and will improve even more dramatically in the decades ahead.
We all tend to have this negativity bias. We need to balance that out a lot more and focus on connectivity, not negativity.