Main takeaways from Abundance 360 Summit
by Martin Holecko
Beautiful deep space imagery on multiple projection screens lighting up the conference hall in the heart of Beverly Hills; some forty long tables, seating ten persons each, arranged like white concentric rays cascading down towards the large central stage. Participants eagerly anticipating the opening keynote, shivering under the cold air pouring behind their necks from the typically over-boosted hotel air-conditioning.
The group that gathers there, myself included, is what Peter Diamandis calls his “highly-curated group of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to transforming their success into significance”. The occasion is the annual Abundance 360 Summit, a three-day event in Los Angeles, hosted every January, with the aim to delve deeper into learning, exchanging, and collectively brainstorming on the creation of an abundant future – a cornerstone of Peter’s vision for what’s coming.
The Most Extraordinary Times
This vision is condensed into a sentence you will hear over and over when listening to him: “We are living in the most extraordinary times in human history.” That is exactly what the whole summit is all about – exploring the state-of-the-art of exponentially advancing technologies, future trends, and the impact rapid progress will have on society and businesses.
Indeed, one of the goals of this year was to let everybody feel the accelerating speed of change and the enormous potential (and challenges) this creates.
The structure of the summit revolved around technologies and trends moving from deceptive to disruptive phases right now: advanced materials, energy, robotics, blockchain, biohacking and advancements in longevity science, the future of transportation, the future of education, the future of work and the leadership, including tools needed to address and cope with what’s coming.
It would be a vain effort to try to summarize the intense3-day program, that started as early as 6:45 am (!) and ended well past 7 pm every day, to a few bullet points or pages. I will, instead, give you the main takeaways that stuck with me the most and invite you to dig deeper on your own through the links provided. Here we go:
- Close to 100% of people are expected to be connected to the Internet within the next 5 to 7 years. This is 3.2 billion newly connected people which is a huge addition to the collective human interconnected intelligence and a huge new market, that will need banking services, insurance etc.
- Blockchain and any derived technology are going to penetrate most areas of human activity, far beyond the current cryptocurrency craze. As hard as it is now to understand the nature and workings of Blockchain, it is crucial for businesses to bring in those who have the knowledge and engage them in discussions of the impacts these technologies have on their particular field, as soon as possible.
- Speaking of it, the cryptocurrency bubble is indeed a bubble that can go flat at any moment; however, to simply dismiss it would be a mistake. Just as any other bubble, it indicates a larger shift in a direction that is going to impact us in the long run. Remember the burst of the internet bubble around the end of the millennium?
- Renewable energy is now cheaper than coal and there is no way back. Taking note of this trend, countries, such as China and India, both of which have recently canceled hundreds of coal power plant plans, including dozens already in construction. The 1.3B people living today without electricity today are mostly in the sunny parts of the world, which further increases the incentives for solar energy.
- Sequencing of the human genome will become a $100 1-hour gig in 2018 leading to an explosion of available genome data.
- With all the new technologies disrupting healthcare, Ray Kurzweil even predicts achieving the “Longevity escape velocity [possibility to prolong human life faster than aging] accessible to the general public within the next decade.”
- In 2019, we will see mass deployment of autonomous cars by companies led by Uber, who partnered with Volvo, followed by GM, Tesla, and others.
- Quantum Supremacy, referring to the creation of a quantum computer that will become practically usable, is expected to happen in 2018.
- The Future of Work: With AI and robots entering our lives in many forms already, it is no longer a future-of-work conversation, but rather a present-of-work conversation. As Tony Robbins put it, we have entered the first stage, during which we are going to hit the brick wall, not knowing how to handle the situation [of many jobs being lost to machines]. People identify with their jobs. Our feeling of purpose in life is closely connected to it and we have to start working now on finding new concepts for those impending times. According to Bryan Johnson, we also need to change our attitude: “We are scared about our loss, not excited about our future possibilities. We need to reframe the conversation”.
- Experimentation and moonshot thinking are the keys to taking advantage of the ever more powerful and—simultaneously—cheaper technologies. Aiming at going 10x bigger will force us to come up with novel solutions and unorthodox approaches. It is also 100x more rewarding than a 10% increase but never 100x harder to pull off. “Fall in love with learning, not with the stuff you built,” warned Astro Teller, Alphabet X’s captain of moonshots, while pointing out that failure is an inherent part of it. That’s why they use a different word to reference failure in Silicon Valley: “an experience.”
- In 15 years, humanity is poised to becoming profoundly transformed, thanks to direct brain-computer interfaces. This will enable our brains to be connected directly to an AI-powered cloud, thus enhancing our cognitive abilities immensely. Besides knowing anything instantly, we might be even able to directly share experiences mind-to-mind and perhaps create a new form of collective consciousness.
- What will then humanity look like? Nobody knows. This new AI-cortex will be a cognitive leap forward, much comparable to the development of our current large cerebral cortex that gave us abilities, as for example logical reasoning, abstract thinking, complex language, and art. The same way we are currently unable to explain these concepts to simpler primates, the enhanced cognitive abilities of the AI-cloud-connected human is beyond our comprehension. Does it sound scary? Bryan Johnson, the founder of Kernel and one of the main drivers in the field, believes this is the only way to cope with the advancements in AI: “We can’t hope that it will happen to us in a good way. We have to proactively work on improving our cognitive abilities.”
Another kind of scarcity
Dean Kamen and Peter Diamandis discussing
Let me finish my report with two related quotes from the stage:
“Nothing is scarce today, I can’t stress that enough,” Peter Diamandis repeated several times, referring to resources, such as energy, capital, technology, and expertise.
“There actually is a shortage today,” added Dean Kamen, a worldwide renowned engineer and inventor holding hundreds of patents, impacting millions of children in the world through his FIRST robotics program. “It is the shortage of vision, courage, and the knowledge of what problems to solve”.
The Abundance 360 Summit was a perfect example in addressing precisely that latter shortage.
Let’s continue the dialogue
The multi-faceted information and experience, combined with passionate debates and connections with speakers and fellow attendees, will reverberate in me throughout many months to come. I will do my very best to integrate the inspiration and learnings I have gathered in the upcoming Future Port Prague 2018 in September this year.
- Check out the Singularity University Summit in Prague (March 2018), an event that sprouts from the same roots as A360. You will find me there.
- Here is another account of this year’s A360 Summit by my friend Peter Sramek. He is a great example of using the chance exponential technologies offer, launching his AI Startup Incubator last year at Future Port Prague.
- As always, I recommend subscribing to the Abundance Insider weekly newsletter by Peter D. that highlights the latest tech breakthroughs and scientific discoveries and why they matter.