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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014

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It's hard to find the upside on the 6 o'clock news, but there certainly is one out there.
It's hard to find the upside on the 6 o'clock news, but there certainly is one out there.

We are entering an age of abundance

Early in my journalism career, a wise old city desk editor took me aside and explained his definition of what qualifies as news.

"We don't do stories about the thousands of cats in this city who did not get caught up in a tree today. We do the story about the one cat that did."

And so we do. That's why the news is populated by stories about war, crime, drought, pestilence, abuse, floods, tornadoes, traffic accidents, plane crashes and every other kind of carnage you can think of.

Author Peter Diamandis says the human brain has evolved that way: to pay special attention to and learn from harmful experiences, so we can best avoid them or minimize the damages and perpetuate the species.

But in today's 24-hour news cycle of "if it bleeds, it leads" information, it often becomes overwhelming to the point that our perspectives are skewed by the horror of it all, and we fail to see the positive aspects of the human condition, Diamandis says.

Diamandis is the chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and launching large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Diamandis and journalist Steve Kotler are the co-authors of a new book, "Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think."

If you are in need of an attitude adjustment, I highly recommend this book.

The book documents how progress in artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials, synthetic biology and many other exponentially growing technologies will enable human beings to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the previous 200 years.

According to the authors, we will soon have the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman and child on the planet. Abundance for all will soon be within our grasp.

Looking back at the past century, the authors wrote, "This period also saw infant mortality decrease by 90 percent, maternal mor…

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