The list of problems can be summoned quite easily - hunger, uncertainty in the Middle East, European debt, lack of clean water, lack of educational opportunities in many parts of the developing world - particularly for little girls - and fanaticism in the name of God.
But with some additional perspective some have argued that the world is a better place than at any time in history. Steven Pinker, for example, believes that violence has become less common in his book, "The Better Angels of Our Nature."
Could the human condition actually be getting better? Peter H. Diamandis, CEO of the X Prize Foundation and co-founder and chairman of Singularity University, and author and journalist Steven Kotler argue that the answer is yes, and the two credit four trends: Exponential technologies, DIY innovators, "Technophilanthropists" and the "Rising billion."
Big Think, which reviews the book:
[The authors] offer a handful of reasons why the future is better than you think. One key reason is the Rising Billion – the world’s newest one billion, empowered by mobile technology, are about to come online for the first time ever. An average smart phone user in Sub-Saharan Africa now has more computing power than the U.S. President did 25 years ago. Another key reason is the appearance of the DIY Innovator, capable of transforming off-the-shelf technologies into an instrument for radical social change in areas that once were the exclusive domain of NGOs and governments.
Diamandis and Kotler are co-authors of the new book, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.
While generally skeptical of techno-utopianism - no one knows where the next exponential leap will take us, much less the next 30 leaps - it is good to take a step back and have a look at the big picture, if only to remind ourselves how infinitely creative we can be, and how so very few problems cannot be solved with desire and purpose.