12th July 2014
Reddit AMA with Peter Diamandis
Reddit: Hi Peter. Were you expecting something like Bitcoin to pop out of nowhere, and just how big do you expect its "market cap" to become in its Disruptive phase?
Peter Diamandis: Regarding bitcoin, in success, it will become the predominant means of financial transaction for not only the developed world but the developing world, the group I call the rising billion. Remember that 3 billion new people are coming online this next decade who do not have access to credit cards or banks. Bitcoin is their method to transact. These 3 billion people represent tens of trillions of dollars that will flow into the global economy. Given that there are only 21 million bitcoins, you do the math.
Reddit: This is a question from /r/basicincome: If robots replace workers, as you've said you think they will, and if we will need less human labor to meet humanity's needs and desires, as you have also suggested, how can society ensure that everyone is able to obtain what they need and desire if there aren't enough jobs to get income from? A basic income has been suggested as a policy, which basically replaces the current hodgepodge of welfare programs with Social Security for everyone. What do you think of this idea?
Peter Diamandis: First let me start by saying I would describe myself as a libertarian capitalist. The idea of creating a socialist state where people are getting supported and not having to work, goes against my grain in many ways. Having said that, I recently had a series of conversations, debates and discussions on this very subject with a group I assembled at Singularity University. I was amazed how the data -- in particular, from experiments done in India -- show that a basic income provided to an entire village in India positively transformed their lives in an extraordinary fashion that gives me great hope. I also believe, as I have written in my book Abundance, that the cost of meeting the basic needs of every man, woman and child on this planet will be significantly reduced by technology over the next few decades.
Reddit: I'd like to know your perspective on longevity science and healthy life extension in the short term, let's say from today till 2025. Do you think that there are going to be advances in the lab? Do you think that those advances are going to transmit fast to the society or will this "social spread" be a slower process? Personally I'm worried about social resistance to something like this.
Peter Diamandis: The innovations in human longevity are mostly going to come from two areas: genomics and stem cell sciences. Over the next decade, Human Longevity Inc. has the objective of sequencing 1 million individuals at a minimum, but in addition to their sequence we will also be collecting phenotypic data, microbiome data, imaging data and metabalomic data. All of this information will be crunched using artificial intelligence and machine learning to give us extraordinary insights. In the arena of stem cells, we will begin harnessing stem cells as the regenerative engine of the body. Having said all this, I think we're going to see amazing strides forward this next decade.
Reddit: What development, achievable in the next 10 years, excites you the most?
Peter Diamandis: I'm most excited about developments in the two areas that I'm pioneering: asteroid mining and the extension of the healthy human lifespan. Through Planetary Resources, we expect to be identifying, prospecting and eventually mining materials from near-Earth asteroids well within this decade. This will create an economic engine that will propel humanity beyond lower orbit. Through Human Longevity Inc, we will be creating the largest database of human genotypic, phenotypic, and microbiology data ever assembled and using machine learning to analyze it to truly understand disease and healthy aging. We feel we have the ability to extend healthy human life by 30-40 years. For me, going to space and living longer -- it doesn't get better!
Reddit: Mr Diamandis, what do you think of Mars One – realistic or hokum or somewhere in between?
Peter Diamandis: My money's on Elon.
Reddit: What do you think of nuclear power? We often have conflicting reports of how dangerous nuclear waste really is to store, how green nuclear power really is, etc.
Peter Diamandis: I believe that nuclear power has gotten a bad reputation because of the early generation plants. The 4th generation plants' design coming online are extraordinarily safe and, frankly, I'd put one in my own backyard. I think ignoring nuclear power is ridiculous, especially because of the upside it has for humanity. We're also seeing extraordinary progress in fusion for the first time in the last 50 years. Having said all this, I am a huge believer that solar power will be able to meet at least 50% of our needs in the United States over the next 2 decades. And moving to a solar economy will transform our entire planet. There is a beautiful alignment that the poorest parts of the world are also the sunniest!
Reddit: How do you see rapid technological advancement impacting the human psyche?
Peter Diamandis: It's incredible how adaptive we are as humans. The change that we have in our lives today would be blinding compared to change 100 or 1,000 years ago. I think the plasticity of the human cortex is fundamental to our survival.
Reddit: What are some fields you're seeing the fastest development in? And what is some of your favourite research being done today?
Peter Diamandis: The field undergoing the fastest development is what I refer to as exponential or accelerating technologies. They are all driven by increases in computational speed. The list specifically includes sensors, networks, artificial intelligence, robotics, synthetic biology, virtual reality, nanomaterials and digital medicine. In my next book, Bold, which comes out in February 2015, I will be focusing on artificial intelligence, 3D printing and synthetic biology. Having said all this, the entire field of crowdsourcing is exploding at the same time and is equally important to the technology. I'm particularly enamored with crowdfunding and incentive competitions as huge leverage points for entrepreneurs today.
Reddit: What advice can you give entrepreneurs (like myself) who want to make billions and better the world?
Peter Diamandis: My advice is simple, find a huge problem on the planet. A problem that affects a billion people, and take a shot at solving it! The best way to become a billionaire is to improve the lives of a billion people. This is exactly the philosophy we teach at Singularity University. It is now possible for an entrepreneur to have an impact at this massive scale. Before, it was only the Kings and the Queens, or the major industrialist. Now it's all of us.