Peter Diamandis on the Race to 100 Miles per Gallon (Part Two)

TreeHugger: We face such daunting, huge ecological challenges in this century; yet, as we speak there are so many brilliant minds at work. Your mission is to unleash the creativity of these minds to advance civilization. These are lofty goals. If you don't mind my asking, how do you see this playing out?

Diamandis: That's a great question. I have to tell you, I am more optimistic than ever, and let me explain why. First of all, there is more wealth, concentrated in the hands of individuals who care, than ever before. There are 1,200 billionaires on this planet who are empowered, many of them, to do good.

The second thing is that the technological capability that is inherent in the hands of single individuals is incredible. Sitting down in front of your computer, you have more computing power and more access to information than the US government did 30 years ago. That's incredibly powerful.

The other thing that's going on, and I don't know that people really recognize it, is that there are a number of technologies in rapid exponential growth. Many people have heard about Moore's Law—that your computer gets twice as fast and costs half as much every 18 months. It's on an exponential curve, and that's because the ability to create these chips has become an information technology, and information technologies are on these exponential curves.

But what's also happening is that nanotechnology, which affects our ability to produce energy, solar panels, for example, and biotechnology, the ability to read and write the genome, the nucleotides, is also on an exponential curve.

So we have a series of technologies: computational systems, network systems, bio-informatics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and robotics. All of these things are growing at an exponential rate, and these are extraordinarily powerful technologies that have the ability to address many of the grand challenges of our time.

In fact, just recently, Ray Kurzweil—one of the best-selling authors, he wrote books called "The Singularity is Near" and "Fantastic Voyage, " also a trustee at MIT—and I, founded a new university called Singularity University, and your listeners can find it at singularityu.org.

It's a university specifically created to pull together the world's future leaders at a graduate and post-graduate level and teach them about all of these exponentially growing technologies, and then, how you use them in concert to address the world's big challenges: the climate crisis, hunger, poverty, pandemics.

Because it's only these exponentially growing technologies, when used in concert, that have the power to effectively address these large, unwieldy problems. But the good news is, they are at hand, and the wealth to wield them is also at hand.

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