Why The Future Is Better Than You Think

Can a Masai Warrior in Africa today communicate better than Ronald Reagan could? If he's on a cell phone, Peter Diamandis says he can.

Peter Diamandis is the founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation, which offers big cash prizes "to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity." Reason's Tim Cavanaugh sat down to talk with Peter about his new book Abundance and why he think we live in an "incredible time", but no one realizes it. Peter thinks that there are some powerful human forces combined with technological advancements that are transforming the world for the better.

"The challenge is that the rate of innovation is so fast..." Peter says, "the government can't keep up with it." If the government tries to play "catch up" with regulations and policy, the technology with just go overseas. Certain inovations in "food, water, housing, health, education is getting better and better." Peter "hopes we are not going to be in a situation where, entrenched interests are preventing the consumer from having better health care."

 Filmed by Sharif Matar and Tracy Oppenheimer. Edited by Sharif Matar

About 15 minutes

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  • SIV||

    Summary:

    If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever. But with iPads so we're more free than any time in human history!

  • Kochtopussy||

    If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — in HD.

  • Injun Joe||

    Pfizer got's a cream for that. I'd give you these "herbs" but it won't really fix the problem since tribalists aren't really much good at anything medicinal.

    Unless you count getting drunk or high...

  • Zeb||

    If you want a picture of the past, imagine people starving and covered in shit. The future picture is the only one with any chance of improving.

  • Physicist||

    Not to mention the whole "past is past" concept.

  • Injun Joe||

    ...covered in shit and starving?

    Spend less time taking out your daddy issues and more time going to the zoo. Or at least turn on the fucking National Geographic Channel while you're being a jackass. I'm sure one of your personalities can lend a hand; just take the one you have down your panties out and every so often grab something else besides your self (the remote in this case).

  • Realist||

    "But with iPads so we're more free than any time in human history!" And you can send pictures, of the stomp'n to all your Facebook "friends" who don't give a shit.

  • jasno||

    People keep talking about 1984 but I find Brave New World to be a much more accurate portrayal of our near future.

    Sedated, pleasured, and controlled.

  • ||

    Agreed. Social engineering is already a huge aspect of our current governments. Just imagine what it will be like in 30 years.

  • ||

    Only instead of the fun-sounding Lenina Crowne with her Malthusian belt she apparently paid for with her own money, we got Sandra Fluke with her demand that the working beta male chumps pay at the point of a gun to keep her Malthusian belt stuffed with contraceptives.

  • Jeffersonian||

    +69

  • Old Salt||

    Not with that Ice Queen buddy.

    I just know she's gonna make some poor bastard a great ex-wife some day!

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  • ||

    If he's on a cell phone

    "gting eaten by lions lol!!111"

  • WWNGD?||

    That is Nick Gillespie with some makeup isn't it? The guy sort of looks, acts and sounds like Nick.

  • WWNGD?||

    " Filmed by Sharif Matar and Tracy Oppenheimer. Edited by Sharif Matar"

    The artsy-fartsy camera work/editing took away from what the guy was trying to discuss.

  • Loki||

    Disagree. The future isn't going to be better; nothing ever really improves, everything just get gradually worse. Sure, technology may advance, but that's not the only yardstick to measure whether or not things are "better". In just about every other way (particularly freedom and liberty) things are definitely getting worse with no signs of improvement anytime soon.

  • Zeb||

    You think? I mean, lots of things do get worse, but lots of things get better too. I think that given the choice to live in any time in history, I would have to choose now. Just in terms of health, life expectancy, ability to travel and communicate with people, things are amazingly good now. The past just sucked. No, now is not very libertarian, but if the past was more so, it only was because governments didn't have the means to control people as much as they do with modern technology.
    Libertarians should be forward looking or we aren't much better than White Indian.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Ditto.

  • SIV||

    No, now is not very libertarian, but if the past was more so, it only was because governments didn't have the means to control people as much as they do with modern technology.

    So you want government to have even more modern technology so they can more thoroughly and efficiently control us?

    I reject your premise though. There was less government control in the past because they couldn't conceive of the idea of infringing on all spheres of human behavior.

  • Injun Joe||

    ***DDDEEERRRPPP***

  • CE||

    There was a lot more government control in the past. They had a military draft.

  • Injun Joe||

    Yer confusin' sunshine with firewater, ya lightweight!

  • Thorbie||

    I respectfully disagree. Government keeps growing, but we're hitting a breaking point. Americans are beginning to think about the size of government, the debt, the constitution. Marijuana legalization, gay marriage are both on the rise. Libertarianism is on the rise. The reaction I get when I bring up the idea of libertarianism in 2007 and 2012 is night and day. Further the internet has become the ultimate libertarian society and it bleeds into everyday life. Things like SOPA don't even have a chance today. There is no media monopoly anymore, not by the big three networks, not even by cable news.

  • matt||

    Don't make an argument that the welfare state has not improved the lives of the poor, then say that today the poor are living lives that the rich during the age of the robber barons would be jealous of.

  • matt||

    Don't make an argument that the welfare state has not improved the lives of the poor, then say that today the poor are living lives that the rich during the age of the robber barons would be jealous of.

  • Zeb||

    The poor are all on welfare?

  • SoCal Refugee||

    But how can we advance disingenuous vanilla-libertarian arguments if we don't?

  • Realist||

    "Can a Masai Warrior in Africa today communicate better than Ronald Reagan could? If he's on a cell phone, Peter Diamandis says he can."
    Peter is a fucking idiot.
    He has no idea what I think about the future or anything else.

  • Old Salt||

    Barring anything catastrophic, I think that alien archaeologists will one day uniformly agree that the downfall of humanity was the invention of the affordable holodeck!

    Just billions and billions of little metal crypts with a single corpse dead inside from old age, the aliens might think it was some bizarre form of mass suicide.

    Cats will probably be the dominant species by then and that will most likely be the exact story the tiny little sadists will tell their new Vulcan masters!

  • ||

    There are very few of the billions of people who have cell phones who can communicate as well as Reagan did.

    Confusing the means of communication with the content of communication has probably been the no. 1 fallacy of the "technology will save us" crowd.

    Sure, tweeter and myface and all that helped with the Arab Spring, but it sure looks like its going to be old wine in new bottles, doesn't it.

  • WanT||

    Your wine metaphor is confusing. Wine tends to get better with age. Old wine in new bottles sounds like having the best of both worlds.

    Better to say 'same shit, new cup'

  • pmains||

    Perhaps he's making a reference to Mark 2:22.

    And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

  • Seriously||

    Claiming that the future will be better then I think is like claiming that something tastes better than dog crap. The bar is pretty low.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    This is a good quote from David Boaz at CATO: Even if we’re seeing mostly the decline of social restrictions, it’s hard to tell blacks, women, Jews, and gays that they’re less free in modern America than they were at some earlier point.
    The whole piece is worth a read here. Check it out before it's carried into the abyss by the Kochtopus. Aaaaaeeeeiiii!

  • Straight White Xtian Male||

    Their freedom has become my unfreedom.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Do you know White Indian? 'Cause you two should definitely get together and compare notes.

  • ||

    Even if we’re seeing mostly the decline of social restrictions, it’s hard to tell blacks, women, Jews, and gays that they’re less free in modern America than they were at some earlier point.

    Depending on what you mean by "some earlier point', sure.

    But set that "earlier point" anytime in the last, say, thirty years, and you'll get an argument from me on blacks, womens, and Jews, at least.

  • SIV||

    Excellent point! If it was here when I started typing I wouldn't have had to make it myself.

  • SIV||

    Were Blacks, Women, Jews and Gays more unfree 35 years ago? I think only gays might be able to say yes.

    All rights lost by teh evil White males over the past 150 years were also lost by the individuals in your select "groups".

  • KPres||

    Blacks definitely. Women and Jews? Debatable.

  • KPres||

    "Even if we’re seeing mostly the decline of social restrictions"

    What does he mean by "social restrictions?" Libertine social norms != liberty. You don't have a right to be liked or well thought of.

  • SoCal Refugee||

    "Libertine social norms != liberty."

    That's news to the Reasonoid crowd. If you can't have sex with a rabbit while simultaneously shooting up heroin and crapping on the flag on national TV without the government interfering, you're oppressed, dangit!

  • SIV||

    I think Dr Thomas Szasz used the example that at the beginning of the 20th century a 12 y/o girl could walk into a pharmacy and purchase laudanum without the druggist raising an eyebrow.

  • CE||

    I don't get the whole "X Prize" thing. Like 5 million bucks to build a Honda factory on the moon, something that will cost 300 billion easy? There's already a big prize to do useful things -- you start a company, go public, and cash in.

  • ||

    He lost me at solar panels.

  • SoCal Refugee||

    Just ignore rising food prices, peak oil, rising housing expenses, and superbugs. Plus balkanization in western countries through third-world immigration, climate change, and financial instability from global capital flows.

  • SoCal Refugee||

    "Were Blacks, Women, Jews and Gays more unfree 35 years ago? I think only gays might be able to say yes."

    Women theoretically have more options, but it many ways the growth of "freedoms" to work has constrained women's choices. The larger labor supply from women entering the workforce has driven wages in industries with inelastic labor demand, resulting in a situation where both parents working is basically mandatory to maintain (barely) a middle-class lifestyle.

    Black freedom gave them Detroit, and the crime-ridden ghetto that exists in pretty much every major city in the US, while giving whites the costs of black welfare dependency and affirmative actions.

    Jews in the US were pretty free 35 years ago. I'm not sure if a whole lot has changed for them either way.

  • SoCal Refugee||

    Plus, get with the times. 35 years ago was 1977. To go back to when there were significant legal restrictions on the rights of blacks, women, and gays, you'd have to go back to the 1960s or before.

  • SoCal Refugee||

    In terms of the ability to make a living without taking on massive amounts of student loan debt, the average American today is objectively worse off than in 1960. Time was that you could graduate from high school, get a job, and get promoted as you acquired experience. Now you have to graduate from college, have an unpaid internship or two under your belt, and still face a wobbly job market and the constant threat of downsizing and outsourcing.

    But maybe, one day, I can obtain the enviable position of being someone who's paid to engage in abstract theorizing about how we're getting better off even when we are increasingly insecure in basic necessities. It seems like great work, if you can get it.

  • SoCal Refugee||

    In terms of the ability to make a living without taking on massive amounts of student loan debt, the average American today is objectively worse off than in 1960. Time was that you could graduate from high school, get a job, and get promoted as you acquired experience. Now you have to graduate from college, have an unpaid internship or two under your belt, and still face a wobbly job market and the constant threat of downsizing and outsourcing.

    But maybe, one day, I can obtain the enviable position of being someone who's paid to engage in abstract theorizing about how we're getting better off even when we are increasingly insecure in basic necessities. It seems like great work, if you can get it.

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