Sometimes you read something and it just cold-cocks you. It comes out of nowhere like a literary Piston Honda uppercut from Mike Tyson’s Punchout!!
Peter is a smart guy. He’s picked up undergraduate and graduate degrees from MIT and he received an MD from Harvard. Yawn. He has started 12 companies whose purposes range from flying private citizens into space to mining asteroids for metals like palladium and osmium (Apparently these metals are rare on Earth, but not in outer space. I’ll take him at his word…).
Diamandis is the Founder and Chairman of the X Prize Foundation. The X Prize is awarded to individuals and companies that create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. For example, a car that can get 100 miles to the gallon.
Wired Magazine includes a Q&A with an “Icon” in every edition. Diamandis is featured this month. The Q&A closed with a question about Optimism. Diamandis’ answer is below.
Q: How do you maintain your optimism amid the deadening barrage of bad news from around the globe?
Diamandis: Our brains are wired to look for negative information. The amygdala is the danger center. Our senses are routed through it before they get to the cortex. When we heard a rustle in the branches, we thought tiger, not wind. That’s why, in the news, if it bleeds it leads.
But the facts are absolutely clear. The world is getting better at an extraordinary rate. The technologies available for solving problems are becoming more powerful and empowering more people.
Will there be problems?
But humanity picks up and keeps moving. In this country, lifespans nearly doubled in the last century. Per capita income more than tripled, and the cost of food, energy, transportation, and communications have dropped exponentially. That’s my source of optimism.
That and a realization I made early on that if there’s a problem, I’m going to solve it. Once you see the world that way, it’s a different place.
Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. Hartmann is an Optimist.
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