The man whose map is the future

Disruptive technology, logic shifts, crazy ideas: these are survival tools and moral compasses for Peter Diamandis

Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 01:00

“An X prize will get a 10 to 15 times return. If you put up $10 million, you will get $100 million spent by all the teams to win it. So it is high leverage. It is high efficiency.”

“You only pay the winner and you launch a new industry as a result! Somebody like Elon and Larry . . . they are all very busy but X Prize becomes a way you can make a big impact upon philanthropic purposes without having to start a company and run it.”

Diamandis says Europe, including Ireland, risks falling behind the United States unless it allows entrepreneurs fail and start-again quicker.

“We have bankruptcy laws that allow for failure [in the US]. A lot of countries from a legal standpoint do not allow for failure. They will never get the rate of iteration you see here. Iterative failure is critical to great things.”

Diamandis is also aware that new technology could lead to people losing their jobs as they are replaced by software or machines.

“The best example of this is in the 1940s and 1950s. There were giant rooms of women, all women, with giant ledgers. It was copying over ledgers and making notes and so forth. When the computer came in, it was like all these jobs are going to be lost. Yeah, they were but we have more finance jobs than we had before.”

Diamandis says he expects large numbers of jobs to be lost in back-office financial service hubs like Dublin, but he predicted new jobs would come along to replace them.

He says humanity needs to embrace, not fear technology.

“Technology is the only thing that has fundamentally, massively, massively improved the lives of billions of people on this planet.

“It is immoral and unethical to go backwards. If anyone says we shouldn’t be embracing technology, then what you are doing is you are killing and destroying the lives of countless people,” he maintains.

Technology is giving people new ways of making money or understanding their health or educating themselves.

“What gives people the ability to know that a tsunami is coming in 24 hours, so pull in my crops and save my kids? It is the satellites overhead! People who are anti-technology, bring them on!

Democracy of invention

“Technology democratises and demonetises the things that we care about! Thank God for those Wall Street guys who paid millions of dollars for their cell phones early on. Their doing that allows people today get microfinance of a dollar a day in the middle of no place.”

Is Diamandis afraid technology could isolate people from each other?

“When the written language was developed . . . I think it was Socrates who was saying ‘the written language is going to destroy our ability to storytell’ . . . and then books were invented . . . then the telephone was invented and it is going to ruin our interpersonal relationships! Every single technology . . .

“What we were born with is accepted but what is new after the age of 30 is threatening. I don’t buy it, I just don’t.”

Spoken, like a man with an exponential belief in our future.

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