I have been playing ideas for over twenty years. In terms of their sheer transformative potential, from an economic and societal perspective, nothing comes close to the idea of 100x.

100x is a simple idea, bordering on the absurd: that we can achieve 100x our current outcomes with our existing resources and technologies. Basically, that if we did things differently, in specific and subtle ways, we would be able to achieve orders of magnitude more output with orders of magnitude less input.

I first found this idea somewhat hinted in Richard Koch’s 80/20 principle. I then encountered it fully in Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins and Paul Hawken’s Natural Capitalism. Koch provided me with the paradigm shift, while Natural Capitalism provided a roadmap of what could be possible.

As I see it, in this century we face a dual challenge: raise everyone’s standard of living to create a society of abundance, and avoid mass extinction by drastically reducing our collective resource use.

I believe that 100x is the key to this process. We need to raise our collective standard of living by 10x (so that the billions now living in poverty or with tight means can raise to a comfortable middle class) and reduce our resource use by 10x (to restore climate, reverse desertification and vastly increase the population and diversity of the global flora and fauna).

I know it sounds naive and absurd. That’s exactly why we are not working on this, and we are distracting ourselves with utterly flawed technologies, such as the fancy electric cars powered by heavy, expensive, built from ecologically unsustainable materials. The other reason we’re not working on this is because it is shocking to realize that we need to do things not just twice as better, or four times, but a full two orders of magnitude. If our input is 100 and our output is 100, we need to make our input be 10 and our output 1000. No small task.

Whatever activity I decide to undertake in my future, it will be in the pursuit of 100x. The journey is to bootstrap, refine and diffuse 100x innovations and practices all over the world to create a shift to sustainable abundance. The goal is to prove Vaclav Smil wrong and Amory Lovins right.

How we measure input and output is nontrivial and needs change. Input is our ecological footprint, which needs to be split into areas (climate, water, soil, flora & fauna diversity). Output measurement needs also to be rethought: I don’t particularly mind if a rich man gets a second yatch, but unless that positively impacts those who build it, I don’t see that as an increase in output. We need to define output as each human’s access to essentials (air, water, food, housing, transport, work, social and cultural life).

The notion of doughnut economics to me is the statement of a reality, but not a blueprint to get to a society of abundance. We need to tackle things with the boldness of recognizing that we need a revolution in how we use resources.

Speaking of revolution, I believe also that the debate about wealth distribution needs to be shifted: I believe in progressive taxation and on closing the tax loopholes for the rich (why the hell wouldn’t we do that, from a collective perspective?), but the key to everyone having more than enough is not distribution of wealth, but rather distribution of generation of wealth. When we find ways to concretely empower billions to create wealth collectively (and the right kinds of wealth, those that mean clean water rather than a second yatch), abundance will be unavoidable, and its distribution an emergent property. I also dream of jobs appearing where your job is to make others more abundant, creating a chain reaction fueled by motivation, yet grounded in the current economic system – while shifting it irreversibly.

Before you dismiss this idea, remember we humans are experts in ignoring drastic improvements that dangle in front of our noses for decades or centuries. A glaring example is how certain improvements in agriculture, such as field rotation, took centuries to spread around Western Europe, despite the fact that 1) these improvements were no secret and there was communication among all these areas; 2) a steady and large agricultural output meant life and death for the masses practicing subsistence agriculture, as well as prosperity or decline for the states that taxed them. I got this one from Braudel.

If 100x is a delusion, so be it. But I need to find out whether it is real, maintaining a balance between faith and skepticism. And if you want to find out as well, maybe we can do it together.