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This is a random post on questions I have been thinking about for a while.
Here are some questions and problems I have been thinking about for a while. Some of which I would like to solve myself, others I’m just curious about. If you would like to discuss any of these with me feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why aren’t people paying more attention to water?
We use freshwater faster than it can be replenished, which has caused a water scarcity affecting both developing and developed countries. The bulk of freshwater’s consumption goes towards Agriculture, accounting for roughly 70% of all freshwater’s use.
Our depleting supply of freshwater has brought about day 0, also known as the day the government turns the taps off. Cape Town came close to experiencing day 0 in 2018, however, narrowly missed it. That said, citizens were still forced to heavily ration water, with some citizens even re-using their bath water for cooking water.
Options like desalination exist, but they are very energy intensive. Given the importance of freshwater in our everyday lives and global supply chains, this problem deserves more attention than it is currently receiving.
How can we be more efficient with fresh water we use now?
What freshwater alternatives exist?
How can we make use of saline water?
And in the case freshwater runs out, what does that mean for the world?
What would building a water company look like?
What can we do to understand ourselves more?
Like a lot of people I am still not 100% sure what I’m good at, and even then I don’t know how I objectively compare to everyone else. The same goes for my likes, dislikes and personality. All of these things are constantly evolving and changing depending on my environment. Yes, we have personality assessments, skills assessments and a whole bunch of other assessments but the problem with assessments is that they make long term predictions based on snapshots of data, which isn’t great. If I want to find my place in society, and contribute to the best of my ability, it seems pretty important that I understand myself deeply.
How can everyone get access to good parenting?
I was listening to a Kanye West interview a few months ago and he said something along the lines of “a genius is someone with good parents'', and it’s been on my mind ever since. A lot of the geniuses we look up to had parents who fostered necessary skills in them from an early age. Take Beyonce for example, her dad quit his job to be her manager full time and helped develop her stellar work ethic (he regularly made her run 3 and a half miles whilst singing to improve her breathing technique). Not everybody will have parents such as these, but everybody should, as it gives children a clear advantage later on in life. How can we provide this quality of parenting to all children at scale?
Is meritocracy the best we can do and if not, what comes next?
Meritocracy is the poster child for the west, however is it the best we can do? What should we prioritise when organizing societies for the next 100 years, and how should our social order reflect this?
What comes after capitalism?
Capitalism was introduced around the 17th century, and for the most part has brought a lot of good, as well as a lot of bad. The good being free markets, technological innovation and progress, and the bad being exploitation and systemic inequality. Assuming societal progress for all is the most important, is capitalism the best we can do? What comes next? What should we keep and what should we discard?
How can black culture be used in tech?
Black cultures' influence in entertainment, fashion and gen z culture is pretty clear. However, I am yet to see its influence in technology, specifically software and hardware. What would that look like and how would it improve technology for the masses? I suspect gaming is the next frontier, but I’m sure we can do more.
What does the next version of books look like?
If the goal of books is to transfer knowledge, then it does a pretty poor job in my opinion. This blog does a fantastic job of explaining why books don’t work. Given the importance of knowledge transfer within society, I think it’s about time we start building V.2 of books. What that looks like, I’m not entirely sure.
How should we measure the productivity of knowledge workers?
Notice that I didn’t ask if we should measure the productivity of knowledge workers, but how. Everybody is measured, whether they like it or not. So it’s important we measure people to the best of our ability, rather than debate if people should be measured or not, given it’s these measurements that dictate where and how an individual contributes to society. You can read more about my thoughts on this here.
How should we measure the soft skills of blue collar workers?
As more individuals transition into knowledge work roles, it is important that we have the tools to recognise transferable skills, particularly soft skills e.g what soft skills does a retail worker have that would be useful as a programmer? If we can figure this out then we can unlock a lot of human potential.
How can we meet the right people faster?
Meeting the right person can change the trajectory of one’s life, whether that’s the right life partner, co-founder, mentor etc. However, too much is left to chance right now. And even then it takes a very long time to meet said person. How can we speed this process up? I know Lunchclub exists, but what else can we do?
How can we get more out of the average worker?
I think we focus too much on outliers (e.g Elon Musk, Beyonce) and not enough on the average joe. How can we get more out of the average worker and more out of average worker groups? Given that they make up a much larger percentage of our population they deserve more of our attention.
What are the benefits of traditional weaknesses?
When we think about things such as bi-polar, stammering and depression, we see them as things to be overcome, which is fair. They do have a lot of negatives, but do they have any positives? I wrote a bit about it here, and as someone with a fairly severe stammer it would be nice to know the potential benefits of this and how I can use this to my advantage.
Can we get rid of periods?
The week of my period causes a severe drop in my productivity, to the point that it might as well not count as work week. Assuming I lose a week of productive work every time my period occurs (and menopause will hit me when I’m 60), I lose approximately 11 years of my life to periods.
Contraceptive pills don't work for many and when it does it has a whole bunch of negative side effects that just don’t make it worth it. How can we solve this? In my opinion, this is probably one of the biggest and most valuable problems to solve of our time. I would happily pay a fortune to get rid of my period (whilst maintaining a healthy reproductive system).
What’s the alternative to credibility?
I was listening to a talk by Samo Burja and he mentioned something along the lines of individuals not being able to recognise when their nation is declining because they don’t have the tools to understand things themselves and outsource much of their thinking to “credible” institutions. We experienced this first hand when WHO advised us not to wear masks, to which we all followed because they were a “credible” institution, who then changed their mind a few months after.
Everybody can’t be an expert in every field, but our reliance on “credible” institutions is becoming increasingly dangerous. Going back to the example of WHO, who knows how many deaths they are responsible for? Should we change our definition of credibility? Or should we create an alternative to “credibility” and if so what would that look like? How can we make the average citizen more knowledgeable in complex areas, without requiring them to be an expert?
How can Nigeria save itself?
Nigerians are consistently named as one of the most successful immigrants abroad, however Nigeria as a country has not lived up to its potential, namely because of bad government. Realistically bad governance won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon, so how can Nigeria save itself from itself? Should Nigerians divorce itself from its government and if so what would that look like? Should Nigeria focus on building charter cities?
How can we scale the experience of musicals?
Seeing a musical in theatre and through film are two very different experiences. For some reason film doesn’t quite capture the magic of musicals. Musical theatre has brought a lot of happiness in my own life, and I believe it could do the same for millions of people. How can we scale this experience without having to build millions of musical theatres? Could VR be the answer?
Why aren’t people paying attention to sand?
Sand is one of the most exploited natural resources, second only to water, as we use it for concrete, cell phone screens, buildings and more. As cities and countries become more developed and urbanised, the demand for sand continues to increase. However, just like water, there is a particular type of sand that is useful, and unfortunately it is this sand that we do not have in abundance. This has led to a lot of sand theft, which in turn has led to the destruction of habitats and soil salinity problems. The full extent of sand theft’s harm is still unknown, which makes this even scarier.
How does this affect people on an individual and societal level?
What’s the alternative to sand?
How much sand do we have left?
What happens when sand runs out?
What would building a sand company look like?
Can everyone be a producer?
Tools such as Only Fans, Patreon and Substack are making it easier for everybody to become a producer. However, is it possible for everybody to be a full time producer? Does the economics of this work? What happens if half the US population becomes full time producers? How does this affect the economy?
What things can only be learnt through experience?
Before I founded my first real company, I worked in VC (regrettably). Back then I used to think that I didn’t need to be an ex-founder to be a good early stage investor. I have since realised that I was very, very wrong. I have a lot of questions as a founder that a non-founder just can’t answer unless they have experienced it themselves. However, nobody could have convinced me otherwise until I experienced this myself. What else can only be learned through experience? What else am I wrong about?