Peter Diamandis Thinks We’re Evolving Toward “Meta-Intelligence”

November 18, 2017

From Natural Selection to Intelligent Direction

In the next 30 years, humanity is in for a transformation the likes of which we’ve never seen before—and XPRIZE Foundation founder and chairman Peter Diamandis believes that this will give birth to a new species. Diamandis admits that this might sound too far out there for most people. He is convinced, however, that we are evolving towards what he calls “meta-intelligence,” and today’s exponential rate of growth is one clear indication.

In an essay for Singularity Hub, Diamandis outlines the transformative stages in the multi-billion year pageant of evolution, and takes note of what the recent increasing “temperature” of evolution—a consequence of human activity—may mean for the future. The story, in a nutshell, is this—early prokaryotic life appears about 3.5 billion years ago (bya), representing perhaps a symbiosis of separate metabolic and replicative mechanisms of “life;” at 2.5 bya, eukaryotes emerge as composite organisms incorporating biological “technology” (other living things) within themselves; at 1.5 bya, multicellular metazoans appear, taking the form of eukaryotes that are yoked together in cooperative colonies; and at 400 million years ago, vertebrate fish species emerge onto land to begin life’s adventure beyond the seas.

“Today, at a massively accelerated rate—some 100 million times faster than the steps I outlined above—life is undergoing a similar evolution,” Diamandis writes. He thinks we’ve moved from a simple Darwinian evolution via natural selection into evolution by intelligent direction.

Credits: Richard Bizley/SPL
Credits: Richard Bizley/SPL

“I believe we’re rapidly heading towards a human-scale transformation, the next evolutionary step into what I call a “Meta-Intelligence,” a future in which we are all highly connected—brain to brain via the cloud—sharing thoughts, knowledge and actions,” he writes.

Change is Coming

Diamandis outlines the next stages of humanity’s evolution in four steps, each a parallel to his four evolutionary stages of life on Earth. There are four driving forces behind this evolution: our interconnected or wired world, the emergence of brain-computer interface (BCI), the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI), and man reaching for the final frontier of space.

In the next 30 years, humanity will move from the first stage—where we are today—to the fourth stage. From simple humans dependent on one another, humanity will incorporate technology into our bodies to allow for more efficient use of information and energy. This is already happening today.

The third stage is a crucial point.

Enabled with BCI and AI, humans will become massively connected with each other and billions of AIs (computers) via the cloud, analogous to the first multicellular lifeforms 1.5 billion years ago. Such a massive interconnection will lead to the emergence of a new global consciousness, and a new organism I call the Meta-Intelligence.

This brings to mind another futuristic event that many are eagerly anticipating: the technological singularity. “Within a quarter century, nonbiological intelligence will match the range and subtlety of human intelligence,” said notable futurist Ray Kurzweil, explaining the singularity.

Credits: Lovelace Turing
Credits: Lovelace Turing

“It will then soar past it because of the continuing acceleration of information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines to instantly share their knowledge.” Kurzweil predicts that this will happen by 2045—within Diamandis’ evolutionary timeline. “The nonbiological intelligence created in that year will be one billion times more powerful than all human intelligence today.”

The fourth and final stage marks humanity’s evolution to becoming a multiplanetary species. “Our journey to the moon, Mars, asteroids and beyond represents the modern-day analogy of the journey made by lungfish climbing out of the oceans some 400 million years ago,” Diamandis explains.

Buckle up: we have an exciting future ahead of us.

This article was originally published by:


Why the World Is Better Than You Think in 10 Powerful Charts

November 14, 2016



When I published Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think in February 2012, I included about 80 charts in the back of the book showing very strong evidence that the world is getting better.

Over the last five years, this trend has continued and accelerated.

This blog includes additional “Evidence for Abundance” that you can share with friends and family to change their mindset.

We truly are living in the most exciting time to be alive.

By the way, if you have additional ‘Evidence for Abundance’ (charts, data, etc.) that you’ve encountered, please email them to me at

Why This Is Important

Before I share the new “data” with you, it’s essential that you understand why this matters.

We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by negative news from every angle. If you turn on CNN (what I call the Crisis News Network), you’ll predominantly hear about death, terrorism, airplane crashes, bombings, financial crisis and political scandal.

I think of the news as a drug pusher, and negative news as their drug.

There’s a reason for this.

We humans are wired to pay 10x more attention to negative news than positive news.

Being able to rapidly notice and pay attention to negative news (like a predator or a dangerous fire) was an evolutionary advantage to keep you alive on the savannas of Africa millions of years ago.

Today, we still pay more attention to negative news, and the news media knows this. They take advantage of it to drive our eyeballs to their advertisers. Typically, good news networks fail as businesses.

It’s not that the news media is lying — it’s just not a balanced view of what’s going on in the world.

And because your mindset matters a lot, my purpose of my work and this post is to share with you the data supporting the positive side of the equation and to give you insight to some fundamental truths about where humanity really is going…

The truth is, driven by advances in exponential technologies, things are getting much better around the world at an accelerating rate.

NOTE: This is not to say that there aren’t major issues we still face, like climate crisis, religious radicalism, terrorism, and so on. It’s just that we forget and romanticize the world in centuries past — and life back then was short and brutal.

My personal mission, and that of XPRIZE and Singularity University, is to help build a “bridge to abundance”: a world in which we are able to meet the basic needs of every man, woman and child.

So, now, let’s look at 10 new charts.

More Evidence for Abundance

Below are 10 powerful charts illustrating the positive developments we’ve made in recent years.

1. Living in Absolute Poverty (1981-2011)

Declining rates of absolute poverty (Source: Our World in Data, Max Roser)

Declining rates of absolute poverty (Source: Our World in Data, Max Roser)

Absolute poverty is defined as living on less than $1.25/day. Over the last 30 years, the share of the global population living in absolute poverty has declined from 53% to under 17%.

While there is still room for improvement (especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia), the quality of life in every region above has been steadily improving and will continue to do so. Over the next 20 years, we have the ability to extinguish absolute poverty on Earth.

2. Child Labor Is on the Decline (2000-2020)

Child Labor on the decline (Source: International Labor Organization)

Child Labor on the decline (Source: International Labor Organization)

This chart depicts the actual and projected changes in the number of children (in millions) in hazardous work conditions and performing child labor between 2000 and 2020.

As you can see, in the last 16 years, the number of children in these conditions has been reduced by more than 50%. As we head to a world of low-cost robotics, where such machines can operate far faster, far cheaper and around the clock, the basic rationale for child labor will completely disappear, and it will drop to zero.

3. Income Spent on Food

Income spent on food (Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Food Expenditure Series)

Income spent on food (Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Food Expenditure Series)

This chart shows the percent per capita of disposable income spent on food in the U.S. from 1960 to 2012.

If you focus on the blue line, ‘Food at home,’ you can see that over the last 50 years, the percent of our disposable income spent on food has dropped by more than 50 percent, from 14% to less than 6%.

This is largely a function of better food production technology, distribution processes and policies that have reduced the cost of food. We’re demonetizing food rapidly.

4. Infant Mortality Rates

Infant Mortality Rate (Source: Devpolicy, UN Interagency Group for Child Mortality Est. 2013)

Infant Mortality Rate (Source: Devpolicy, UN Interagency Group for Child Mortality Est. 2013)

This chart depicts global under-five-years-old mortality rates between 1990 and 2012 based on the number of deaths per 1,000 live births.

In the last 25 years, under-five mortality rates have dropped by 50%. Infant mortality rates and neonatal mortality rates have also dropped significantly.

And this is just in the last 25 years. If you looked at the last 100 years, which I talk about in Abundance, the improvements have been staggering.

5. Annual Cases of Guinea Worm

Guinea worm cases (Source: GiveWell, Carter Center)

Guinea worm cases (Source: GiveWell, Carter Center)

Guinea worm is a nasty parasite that used to affect over 3.5 million people only 30 years ago. Today, thanks to advances in medical technologies, research and therapeutics, the parasite has almost been eradicated. In 2008, there were just 4,647 cases.

I’m sharing the chart above because it represents humanity’s growing ability to address and cure diseases that have plagued us for ages. Expect that through technologies such as gene drive/CRISPR-Cas9 and other genomic technologies, we will rapidly begin to eliminate dozens or hundreds of similar plagues.

6. Teen Birth Rates in the United States

Teen birth rates (Source: Vox, Centers for Disease Control)

Teen birth rates (Source: Vox, Centers for Disease Control)

The chart above shows the dramatic decline in the number of teen (15 to 19 years old) birth rates in the United States since 1950. At its peak, 89.1 out of 1,000 teenage women were giving birth. Today, it’s dropped under 29 out of 1,000.

This is largely a function of the population becoming better educated, the cost of birth control being reduced and becoming more widely available, and cultural shifts in the United States.

7. Homicide Rates in Western Europe

Homicide rates in Europe (Source: Our World in Data, Max Roser & Manuel Eisner)

Homicide rates in Europe (Source: Our World in Data, Max Roser & Manuel Eisner)

The chart above shows the number of homicides per 100,000 people per year in five Western European regions from 1300 to 2010.

As you can see, Western Europe used to be a very dangerous place to live. Over the last 700+ years, the number of homicides per 100,000 people has decreased to almost zero.

It is important to look back this far (700 years) because we humans lose perspective and tend to romanticize the past, but forget how violent life truly was in, say, the Middle Ages, or even just a couple of hundred years ago.

We have made dramatic and positive changes. On an evolutionary time scale, 700 years is NOTHING, and our progress as a species is impressive.

8. U.S. Violent Crime Rates, 1973 – 2010

U.S. violent crime rates (Source: Gallup, Bureau of Justice Statistics)

U.S. violent crime rates (Source: Gallup, Bureau of Justice Statistics)

In light of the recent terrorist shooting in Orlando, and the school shootings in years past, it is sometimes easy to lose perspective.

The truth is, in aggregate, we’ve made significant progress in reducing violent crimes in the United States in the last 50 years.

As recent as the early 80s and mid-90s, there were over 50 violent crime victims per 1,000 individuals. Recently, this number has dropped threefold to 15 victims per 1,000 people.

We continue to make our country (and the world) a safer place to live.

9. Average Years of Education, 1820-2003

Average years of education (Source: Our World in Data, Max Roser)

Average years of education (Source: Our World in Data, Max Roser)

I love this chart. In the last 200 years, the average number of ‘years of education’ received by people worldwide has increased dramatically.

In the U.S. in 1820, the average person received less than 2 years of education. These days, it’s closer to 21 years of education, a 10X improvement.

We are rapidly continuing the demonetization, dematerialization and democratization of education. Today, I’m very proud of the $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE as a major step in that direction.

Within the next 20 years, the best possible education on Earth will be delivered by AI for free — and the quality will be the same for the son or daughter of a billionaire as it is for the son or daughter of the poorest parents on the planet.

10. Global Literacy Rates

Global literacy rates (Source: Our World in Data, Max Roser)

Global literacy rates (Source: Our World in Data, Max Roser)

Along those same lines, the extraordinary chart above shows how global literacy rates have increased from around 10% to close to 100% in the last 500 years.

This is both a function of technology democratizing access to education, as well as abundance giving us the freedom of time to learn.

Education and literacy is a core to my abundance thesis — a better-educated world raises all tides.

Again, if you have other great examples of abundance (charts and data), please send them to me at

We live in the most exciting time to be alive! Enjoy it.

Why the World Is Better Than You Think in 10 Powerful Charts

Why Tech is Accelerating – Peter Diamandis

January 23, 2016


No doubt you’ve heard of Moore’s Law.

What you might not realize is that Moore’s Law only refers to the exponential price-performance improvements of integrated circuits (over the last 50 years).

Did you know that exponential growth has been going on for a much longer period? Or that such growth is occurring in other fields outside of computing, such as communication and genomics?

Such exponential growth is actually described by “The Law of Accelerating Returns,” a term coined by my friend and Singularity University Chancellor/Co-founder Ray Kurzweil.

This blog aims to explain the difference between Moore’s Law and the Law of Accelerating Returns – an important distinction to understand for the exponentially minded.

What is Moore’s Law?

In 1965, Gordon Moore (a founder of Intel) published a paper observing that between 1958 and 1965, the number of transistors on an integrated circuit have been doubling roughly every 18 to 24 months. He projected this would continue for some time. This concept has held true for 50 years and is known as “Moore’s Law.”

To get a gut feeling of Moore’s law, let’s look at the physical evolution of the microchip. In 1958, a scientist at Texas Instruments developed the first-ever integrated circuit. It had two transistors (the more, the better) with a “gate process length” (the smaller, the better) of about ½ inch. This scientist would go on to win the Nobel Prize.

The first integrated circuit in 1958

The first integrated circuit in 1958

Now, fast forward 13 years.

The Intel 4004 Integrated Circuit

The Intel 4004 Integrated Circuit

In 1971, Intel came out with its first commercial product, a 4-bit CPU called the Intel 4004 integrated circuit. The 4004 had 2,300 transistors with a gate length of 10,000 nanometers, and computer power of about 740 KHz.

By this time, each transistor cost about $1, on average.

Now fast forward another 40 years…

2012 GPU from Nvidia

2012 GPU from Nvidia

In 2012, Nvidia released a new graphical processor unit (GPU) with 7.1 billion transistors, a gate length of 28 nanometers, and processing power of 7GHz.

The cost of a transistor: ~ $0.0000001

In just 40 years, the technology experienced a 100 billion-fold improvement, right on schedule for Moore’s Law.

The Law of Accelerating Returns

But Moore’s Law only describes the latest period (the 5th paradigm) of computational exponential growth.

As Ray Kurzweil described in his most excellent book, The Singularity Is Near, exponential growth in computation has existed for over a century, and has gone through five different paradigms of exponential growth:

  • 1st Paradigm: Electromechanical computers
  • 2nd Paradigm: Relay-based computers
  • 3rd Paradigm: Vacuum-tube based computers
  • 4th Paradigm: Transistor-based computers
  • 5th Paradigm: Integrated circuits (Moore’s Law)

Moore’s Law (the 5th paradigm of computation) is therefore a subset of a much broader exponential principle described by Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns.

Graphic from Singularity is Near, demonstrating

Graphic from Singularity is Near, demonstrating “Law of Accelerating Returns” in the field of computation

It’s important to note that Ray recently mentioned to me that the sixth paradigm – three-dimensional computing – is already underway.

Why is Technology Accelerating?

It is important to understand the underlying drivers for the Law of Accelerating Returns. Why is technology accelerating? As Ray references, “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate)”.

Here’s the basic reasoning:

  • Evolution (biological or technological) results in a better next-generation product. That product is thereby a more effective and capable method, and is used in developing the next stage of evolutionary progress. It’s a positive feedback loop.
  • Put differently, we are using faster tools to design and build faster tools.
  • In biological evolution, the more advanced life form (think cellular) is able to gather energy and reproduce more effectively, and therefore outperforms and out-evolves other life forms.
  • As a result, the rate of progress of an evolutionary process increases exponentially over time, and the “returns” such as speed, cost-effectiveness, or overall “power” also increase exponentially over time.
  • As a particular evolutionary process (e.g., computation) becomes more effective (e.g., cost effective), greater resources are then deployed toward furthering the progress of that process. This results in a second level of exponential growth (i.e., the rate of exponential growth itself grows exponentially).

Is Biology & Life Advancing Exponentially?

To paraphrase Kurzweil… The Law of Accelerating Returns also explains exponential advancement of life (biology) on this planet. Looking at biological evolution on Earth, the first step was the emergence of DNA, which provided a digital method to record the results of evolutionary experiments. Then, the evolution of cells, tissues, organs and a multitude of species that ultimately combined rational thought with an opposable appendage (i.e., the thumb) caused a fundamental paradigm shift from biology to technology. The first technological steps – sharp edges, fire, the wheel – took tens of thousands of years. For people living in this era, there was little noticeable technological change in even a thousand years. By 1000 A.D., progress was much faster and a paradigm shift required only a century or two. In the 19th century, we saw more technological change than in the nine centuries preceding it. Then in the first 20 years of the 20th century, we saw more advancement than in all of the 19th century. Now, paradigm shifts occur in only a few years’ time. The World Wide Web did not exist in anything like its present form just a decade ago, and didn’t exist at all two decades before that. As these exponential developments continue, we will begin to unlock unfathomably productive capabilities and begin to understand how to solve the world’s most challenging problems. There has never been a more exciting time to be alive.

The World in 2025: 8 Predictions for the Next 10 Years

August 2, 2015


In 2025, in accordance with Moore’s Law, we’ll see an acceleration in the rate of change as we move closer to a world of true abundance. Here are eight areas where we’ll see extraordinary transformation in the next decade:

1. A $1,000 Human Brain

In 2025, $1,000 should buy you a computer able to calculate at 10^16 cycles per second (10,000 trillion cycles per second), the equivalent processing speed of the human brain.

2. A Trillion-Sensor Economy

The Internet of Everything describes the networked connections between devices, people, processes and data. By 2025, the IoE will exceed 100 billion connected devices, each with a dozen or more sensors collecting data. This will lead to a trillion-sensor economy driving a data revolution beyond our imagination. Cisco’s recent report estimates the IoE will generate $19 trillion of newly created value.

3. Perfect Knowledge

We’re heading towards a world of perfect knowledge. With a trillion sensors gathering data everywhere (autonomous cars, satellite systems, drones, wearables, cameras), you’ll be able to know anything you want, anytime, anywhere, and query that data for answers and insights.

4. 8 Billion Hyper-Connected People

Facebook (, SpaceX, Google (Project Loon), Qualcomm and Virgin (OneWeb) are planning to provide global connectivity to every human on Earth at speeds exceeding one megabit per second.

We will grow from three to eight billion connected humans, adding five billion new consumers into the global economy. They represent tens of trillions of new dollars flowing into the global economy. And they are not coming online like we did 20 years ago with a 9600 modem on AOL. They’re coming online with a 1 Mbps connection and access to the world’s information on Google, cloud 3D printing, Amazon Web Services, artificial intelligence with Watson, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and more.

5. Disruption of Healthcare

Existing healthcare institutions will be crushed as new business models with better and more efficient care emerge. Thousands of startups, as well as today’s data giants (Google, Apple, Microsoft, SAP, IBM, etc.) will all enter this lucrative $3.8 trillion healthcare industry with new business models that dematerialize, demonetize and democratize today’s bureaucratic and inefficient system.

Biometric sensing (wearables) and AI will make each of us the CEOs of our own health. Large-scale genomic sequencing and machine learning will allow us to understand the root cause of cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease and what to do about it. Robotic surgeons can carry out an autonomous surgical procedure perfectly (every time) for pennies on the dollar. Each of us will be able to regrow a heart, liver, lung or kidney when we need it, instead of waiting for the donor to die.

6. Augmented and Virtual Reality

Billions of dollars invested by Facebook (Oculus), Google (Magic Leap), Microsoft (Hololens), Sony, Qualcomm, HTC and others will lead to a new generation of displays and user interfaces.

The screen as we know it — on your phone, your computer and your TV — will disappear and be replaced by eyewear. Not the geeky Google Glass, but stylish equivalents to what the well-dressed fashionistas are wearing today. The result will be a massive disruption in a number of industries ranging from consumer retail, to real estate, education, travel, entertainment, and the fundamental ways we operate as humans.

7. Early Days of JARVIS

Artificial intelligence research will make strides in the next decade. If you think Siri is useful now, the next decade’s generation of Siri will be much more like JARVIS from Iron Man, with expanded capabilities to understand and answer. Companies like IBM Watson, DeepMind and Vicarious continue to hunker down and develop next-generation AI systems. In a decade, it will be normal for you to give your AI access to listen to all of your conversations, read your emails and scan your biometric data because the upside and convenience will be so immense.

8. Blockchain

If you haven’t heard of the blockchain, I highly recommend you read up on it. You might have heard of bitcoin, which is the decentralized (global), democratized, highly secure cryptocurrency based on the blockchain. But the real innovation is the blockchain itself, a protocol that allows for secure, direct (without a middleman), digital transfers of value and assets (think money, contracts, stocks, IP). Investors like Marc Andreesen have poured tens of millions into the development and believe this is as important of an opportunity as the creation of the Internet itself.

Bottom Line: We Live in the Most Exciting Time Ever

We are living toward incredible times where the only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing.

Solar Energy Revolution: A Massive Opportunity

November 23, 2014

solar ART-Awaken

My friend Ray Kurzweil projects the U.S. will meet 100 percent of its electrical energy needs from solar in 20 years. Elon Musk is a bit more conservative, pegging it at 50 percent in that timeframe. While the growth of solar may seem slow to some, it’s fair to say it’s in the midst of its “deceptive phase,” on the road to disruption. For example, a 30 percent increase in solar energy production per year, means 1 percent today grows to 1.3 percent in 3 years. It also means that in 20 years (7 doublings), we’ll see a 128-fold increase. Either way, if Ray and Elon are even close, there is a trillion dollars up for grabs (as well as the future of our planet), and the future is bright. Let’s take a closer look at the converging technologies driving this future… The cost of solar panels is dropping exponentially. The first and most important technological change is the falling cost per watt of silicon photovoltaic cells over the past few decades. Check out the plummeting cost from $76 in 1977, to less than $0.36 today.

The International Energy Agency predicts that we will produce 662 GigaWatts of solar energy by 2035 following a $1.3 trillion investment in this area, but frankly this estimate is “highly conservative.” The second technology at play is satellite-Earth imaging, which enables companies like solar City to make rapid and accurate decisions on solar panel installations. These days, an installer can check out your rooftop on Google Earth and determine in minutes if you are a good candidate. Super-simple. Energy Storage Mechanisms Are Improving Rapidly The third key technology transforming our energy economy is battery storage. The ability to take solar energy captured during the day, and time-shift it into the night. Here to the change has been very significant, with a 50%+ reduction over the past four years, and an additional 50%+ reduction by 2020.

In addition to this ongoing cost reduction, we’re about to see a massive increase in battery production. Tesla’s Gigafactory alone will produce 35 Gigawatts worth of the batteries by 2020, more than 2013′s total global battery production capacity.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) Tesla’s Gigafactory also supports the production of 500,000 electric vehicles per year. The rapid rise (see below) of Electric Vehicle (EV) production will play a critical role as well.

6 D’s: Tying It All Together The convergence of solar, batteries and EVs will democratize energy production and offer billions of people access to cheap, carbon-neutral energy. Looking at solar energy thru my 6 Ds paradigm of exponential technologies may offer some added insights:

  • Digitized: How we manufacture, measurem and control solar electricity has become digitized, and therefore hopped on an exponential growth path.
  • Deceptive: Today we are in the deceptive phase of solar growth. Remember, a 30% increase per year means we are only 7 doublings, or 21 years, away from a 128-fold increase.
  • Disruptive: With 5,000 times more solar hitting the Earth’s surface in a year than humanity uses today, solar has plenty of ‘head-room’ for growth. The UBS study said it well: “Our view is that the ‘we have done it like this for a century’ value chain in developed electricity markets will be turned upside down within the next 10-20 years, driven by solar and batteries.”
  • Dematerialized: a distributed, pervasive solar grid will create a far more robust and capable energy grid. Again, from the UBS report, “(Today’s) large-scale power generation, will be the dinosaur of the future energy system: Too big, too inflexible, not even relevant for backup power in the long run”.
  • Demonetized: Ultimately, energy from the Sun is free. Better yet, the poorest countries in the world are also the sunniest. Imagine a world where there is a squanderable amount of cheap and clean energy?
  • Democratized: As said above, solar scales globally, available to everyone, even in the poorest countries in the world.

It’s Time to Join the Revolution UBS continues:

“By 2025, everybody will be able to produce and store power. And it will be green and cost competitive, i.e., not more expensive or even cheaper than buying power from utilities. It is also the most efficient way to produce power where it is consumed, because transmission losses will be minimized. Power will no longer be something that is consumed in a ‘dumb’ way. Homes and grids will be smart, aligning the demand profile with supply from (volatile) renewables.”

UBS predicts the payback time for unsubsidized investment in electric vehicles plus battery storage plus rooftop solar will be around 6 to 8 years by 2020 (see below).

From my perspective, solar must be considered a central driver for our future economy. How will this affect your business? Industry? Life?



The next XPRIZE: Education software to end global illiteracy

June 7, 2014


If you want a vision of what the world will look like in 25 years, have a chat with Dr. Peter Diamandis. This MIT aerospace engineer and M.D. from Harvard is an international pioneer in the fields of innovation, incentive competitions and commercial space. As the chairman and CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation, best known for its $10 million Ansari XPRIZE for private spaceflight, he is helping to jump-start a commercial space industry in the U.S.

An emissary for “social entrepreneurship” with a goal of harnessing technology to help mankind, Dr. Diamandis has launched a number of private ventures, including Planetary Resources, a company designing spacecraft to mine near-Earth asteroids for precious materials; and Human Longevity, a genomics and cell therapy–based diagnostic company focused on extending the human lifespan.

To fast-forward change and help failing industries, he partnered with Ray Kurzweil, the director of engineering at Google, to launch Singularity University six years ago. The unaccredited university in Silicon Valley teaches leaders how to apply “exponential technologies” to address humanity’s grand challenges. Educators are well-known entrepreneurs and scientists who want to mentor the next generation of world-class innovators. In a recent interview with CNBC’s senior editor Lori Ioannou, Dr. Diamandis talked about his upcoming plans for the XPRIZE Foundation and the rapid pace of technological change.

“If you can make a big impact on the global literacy problem, you can uplift a big portion of society.” -Dr. Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman, XPRIZE Foundation

CNBC: You talk about exponential technologies. What does the term mean?

A: These are technologies—artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials and synthetic biology—that will enable us to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the past 200. They will have transformational impact hard for us to imagine today.

CNBC: What industries are being turned upside down by rapid technological advances?

A: A good example is the financial industry. Already we see new approaches to the markets with the introduction of digital currency known as bitcoin and block-chain trading. There is also an arms race going on with the use of artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Look at what’s happened with algorithmic high-frequency trading. You have to ask, ‘Will the NASDAQ or the NYSE still exist a decade from now?’

CNBC: Do you think most people are aware of this revolution?

A: No. There is so much tech disruption going on, I don’t think investors and money managers are aware of the rate of change coming down the pike. The rate of change is too hard to fathom. But they need to be aware that many of today’s F500 are in danger. A study from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40 percent of today’s F500 companies on the S&P 500 will no longer exist in 10 years.

CNBC: What trends are at work?

A: In my book “Abundance,” I note some of the broad ones. Robots and AI are replacing people in the workforce; virtual commerce and telecommuting is having an effect on real estate trends. Digital manufacturing, known as 3-D printing, is allowing anyone, anywhere, to create physical items from digital blueprints, and it is ushering in an era of do-it-yourself innovation. People need to understand how exponential technologies are impacting the business landscape. They need to do some future casting and look at how industries are evolving and being transformed.

CNBC: So what’s the next big XPRIZE competition going to focus on?

A: We hope to launch one on global literacy over the next six months. There are 1 billion people who are illiterate on Earth. About 100 million are children with no access to schools or teachers. Our focus will be on launching a competition to create software that can operate on any mobile or tablet device that can teach reading, writing, math and other subjects in a two- to three-year period. My feeling is that if you can make a big impact on the global literacy problem, you can uplift a big portion of society.

CNBC: You are one of a number of “technophilanthropists.” What led to this new era?

A: Many entrepreneurs that made their fortunes by founding successful technology companies want to give back and solve the world’s biggest problems on a grand scale. There is tremendous opportunity in this approach.

Lori Ioannou, Senior Editor,