The Rising Billion

Imagine a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and non-polluting, ubiquitous energy – it’s a not an issue of scarcity, its an issue of accessibility.

Peter Diamandis in Abundance suggests that exponential advances in robotics, AI, synthetic biology and infinite computing, means that something is only going to be scarce until we use technology to make it abundant. Clean water? Energy? Environmental issues? All problems that will be solved in the coming decades.

Ubiquitous connectivity will see another 3 billion people gain access to the web by 2020 and with it, provide many the opportunity to break the cycle of unending poverty, violence and despair through access to education, banking, communication and finance. For the first time ever, the “rising billion” will have the power to identify, solve and implement solutions to their own problems through unparalleled access to information, expertise and finance (think Kiva, Kickstarter, Freelancer) and this is creating opportunities for collaborative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. We are seeing this every day and not just in the developing world. For instance, it’s mind blowing to think that in 2012 Instagram was acquired by Facebook for a billion dollars. A billion dollars! Uber has turned into a 40 billion dollar company within 5 years. Occulus Rift raised 3 million on Kickstarter and then sold to Facebook for 2 billion dollars 18 months later. It has never been easier or cheaper to take an idea from concept to reality.

What does this mean for schools? Students must have an empowered mindset – not one saturated with notions of conformity, passivity, compliance and control, but instead one that is liberated, critical, curious and exposed to contemporary ideas and models of business. Students who think that they can change the world will be the ones that will.

Schools still discussing social media policies are missing the point. Not only is Cognitive Load Management going to be an important skill in an increasingly digital world full of wonderful distractions, but the reality is that many of our students are going to be involved in social entrepreneurship, creating the jobs, tools and platforms that will lead to a world of Abundance.

Peter Diamandis spoke at Creative Innovation earlier this year.

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