Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of XPRIZE, has a vision of the world where humans can cross limits they didn’t even know existed and where science fiction has become science fact. The exponential growth of technology is about to go into hyperdrive. Unprecedentedly powerful Quantum computers are due to come online in 2017, he says, that will fundamentally change our understanding of medicine, climate change, handling the environment and just about every aspect of human activity.
“I believe we are living in the most extraordinary time there has been to be alive,” says Diamindis, co-founder of the Singularity University whose mission is ‘to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges’.
“This is a time when if you are passionately desirous of doing something, you can,” he continues. “There is more access to wealth, angel capital, crowd funding, technology. You can access the whole world’s information instantly, there is nothing you cannot do. Individually you can change the world.”
Humans have followed a story of linear development for the last 150,000 years, but they are about to experience an exponential explosion which will throw up a whole wealth of opportunities.
He asks us to think of a physician and the hundreds of thousands of academic journals he or she might have access to in a single year. How many does he or she actually read? The ability of computers to store, read and analyse this kind of material is only getting faster – and all at the mere cost of electricity. Machine learning is on the point of being revolutionized, and while some might be alarmed by the speed of developments, Diamindis prefers to emphasize their liberating nature.
“This kind of availability is becoming like oxygen,” he says. “A thousand years ago it was kings and queens who made all the decisions. A hundred years ago it was industrialists, today, it’s all of us. The only stumbling block is whether you really want to passionately solve the problem. But I don’t need to depend on the government any more to solve my problems.”
Tens of trillions of dollars are flowing into the economy that nobody is talliing about, he says. “If you think things are fast now, just wait. We are heading towards the Internet of Everything. By 2020, there will be 50 billion devices globally and a trillion sensors fitted to these devices, giving info about everything everywhere.”
“The biggest business explosion is about to happen with AR. It is about to get rid of the middle man in almost every field. In medicine genomics programming will allow you to fix a disease before it even manifests itself. You might get home and your biometric sensor tells you exactly what you need to eat after a day at work. Meanwhile there is a paradigm change in autonomous cars. You won’t own cars as artefacts, you’ll have cars as a service. Autonomous cars have already started running for Uber in Pittsburgh.”
This new world is not only coming, it’s just around the corner. Diamandis anticipates drones being the delivery vehicle of choice, where Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) headsets are as common as wristwatches, and where universal access to 3D printers will liberate the human imagination in as yet unimagined ways.