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There are certainly grounds for optimism in America. After all, the economy does flash the occasional sign of strength, and the employment figures seem just a little rosier with each report. But then some might be considered extreme optimists. In this camp you’ll find Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter H. Diamandis: molecular biologist, aerospace engineer, medical doctor, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, and co-founder and chairman of Singularity University.
In the new book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think (Free Press), Diamandis partnered with author and journalist Steven Kotler. They argue forcefully against two prevailing notions: that the world’s resources are being depleted too rapidly, and that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening beyond repair. They cite the rise of do-it-yourself innovation, fabulously rich “technophilanthropists” who intend to use their deep pockets to change the world, and what they’ve termed the “rising billion”: the world’s poor, who, thanks to modern technologies of communication, now have a voice. Bloomberg Businessweek asked Diamandis and Kotler to provide their favorite business reads. They wrote their answers together and e-mailed them over.
Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics, by Eric D. Beinhocker
“Most of Wall Street stopped paying attention to complexity science almost a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean progress halted. This book provides the update. A great introduction to complexity economics, a science that may be our best hope of understanding an information-based economy in a post-scarcity era.”
Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea: The History and Discovery of the World’s Richest Shipwreck, by Gary Kinder
“Ocean engineer Tommy Thompson used a combination of oceanography, computer science, and information theory to sift the historical record and discover the ‘greatest treasure ever found.’ His story is a brilliant example of harnessing the incredible power of technology to achieve something that was literally thought to be impossible.”
The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, by Ray Kurzweil
“There’s no way to prepare for the future if you don’t know what’s coming. Kurzweil’s well thought-out discussion of how exponential technology will impact society and industry over the next 30 years is essential reading.”
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
“A book about harnessing sustainable technologies to create a world of abundance from some of the best thinkers in the field—critical for creating best practices moving forward.”
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, by Matt Ridley
“Understanding how the world is changing, and how global standard of living are rising is important for any CEO. Being able to see the positive news while the rest of the world trends towards doom and gloom provides a strategic advantage. Ridley explains how the real data can show the way.”