There is a possible world, better, fairer, and more beautiful than the current one in countless ways, that those who care to and choose to can work to build.
We live in a time when individuals and small groups of people have extraordinary power to create ideas, objects, and organizations that can radically change the way the world has been, without having to wait for the permission or endorsement of slow or unresponsive governments, or giant corporations, or limited funding sources. Almost anyone who sees a problem can, if they're clever and determined enough, solve at least some aspect of it.
And our moment in history is explosive with suddenly tractable problems: we are within theoretical range of being able to eradicate poverty; cure diseases, decrepitude, and perhaps eventually even death; move outward into space and onto other worlds; and lift ourselves - all of us - finally from the struggle to merely get by, to the pursuit of fulfillment, passion, and joy. There is a fair and free world of infinite possibility that could be our future, if enough of us imagine it clearly and pursue it diligently.
How effective we are at solving the problems we see (and avoiding their undesirable side effects) depends fundamentally on the ideas we build with: how accurately we perceive the problems; how creatively we can dream up possibilities and solutions; how lucidly and carefully we can assess and improve on our dreamed ideas; and how shrewdly we can go about implementing them.
This is a place to collect and discuss those ideas, and in particular those that underlie and enable further, wiser, better ideas. The site is a means to explore concepts with leverage, insights that will unlock potentials that have been lying latent in the world and in us - ideas that will help us move by the shortest possible path to the world we'd rather live in.
The focus here is on brainstorming, articulating, iterating on, and ramifying ideas, but the end goal is to produce ideas that have been refined into actionable product designs, research programs, and business models, which are open source and free for the taking to anyone who is passionate about and well-suited to undertake them.
There are three sections on the site, semi-arbitrary categories that roughly encompassed the handful of ideas I had when I started the site, and which seemed to me to describe important fundamental areas of fruitful innovation and intervention. They are not meant to be exclusive or exhaustive; if and when new ideas come along that deserve their own category or suggest a fertile new area to consider, I'll happily create it.
Knowing Reality As It Is contains ideas about how we can find ways to understand reality more clearly and deeply. There are two concepts being explored in it initially: First and primarily, a new website that will be complementary to Wikipedia in the goal of collecting and organizing all human knowledge, but which will be organized not around the question What do we know (as Wikipedia and other encyclopedias are), but How do we know what we know, or Why do we believe what we do. I believe that making the provenance of ideas - their complete chain of justification and evidence - publicly accessible, intelligible, and open to collaborative vetting, is the solution to the problems of fake news, the failures of scientific claims to replicate, and of every other situation in which it has so far been unmanageably difficult to assess and compare complex claims in their totality. Second in this section are a class of virtual reality apps that will let us interact with physics, chemistry, molecular biology, astrophysics, and other systems of objects that are too small or too large for us to directly perceive and fiddle with. The human brain is well adapted to learning about and developing fine-tuned intuitions for objects that it can directly manipulate and play with, but is much less adapted to understanding systems that it can only interact with via abstractions and equations. When we open up, e.g., chemistry, to visual and tactile poking and prodding - to playing with atoms and molecules and the forces between them at human scale, just as we can tinker with rocks and sticks, gears and levers - we will simultaneously deeply increase the clarity and intuitive understanding of those minds that were relatively good at the necessary math of the old approach to chemistry, and also widely increase the number of minds who can usefully understand and contribute to that field of knowledge.
Human Wants and Needs is concerned with finding better, cheaper, more sustainable ways to provide the fundamental needs of human beings, and to solve the problems that cause us the most suffering. It starts with two ideas - or rather one idea and one incomplete collection of research: The idea is that, given that we are facing a momentous economic transition as automation takes over more and more human functions, and that this transition will be deeply disruptive and difficult if we do not wisely and proactively manage it, we ought to be focusing our automating efforts first on the basic human necessities of water, food, and shelter, in order to make those as cheap as possible so that the transition is as manageable as possible. In particular, I suggest a new way to build houses that I believe is better in every respect than current standard methods, and which will be much more amenable to automated robotic construction, and therefore will be extraordinarily cheap. The second item in this section is a collection of amateur research on dementia - a topic of wide public (and my own private) interest, and some suggestions (but also, and much more, a request for scientifically-based, compelling suggestions) about possibly effective interventions that individuals can make for themselves and their affected loved ones.
Government for the People is centered around finding ways to move toward a political system that is less co-opted by the powerful, the moneyed, and other entrenched interests - a system that enables a more democratic representation of ideas, perceptions, and experiences, while being less susceptible to the mere self-interest of majority will. The low-hanging fruit here seems to be moving to a voting system that will more accurately reflect the populace's true collective interests than our current one does, and though I don't have anything original to suggest in this space, this is a deeply important question which can't help but benefit from as much clarity and discussion as possible, so I will collect here a number of arguments and ideas in hopes of adding something to the debate for someone.
The world could be more, and better, than it is. We can transmute the world that is into the world that could be. All it requires is that those of us who want that better world find a way to collaborate, to each build those pieces that each finds meaningful and exciting, and to coordinate the resulting pieces into a collective picture of peace and plenty. I acknowledge the difficulty of getting humans to collaborate on any large scale - but I will argue here that this is more possible now than it has ever been before, that there are uniquely powerful new approaches that can be taken, and, ultimately, that the alternatives to trying are all terrible if not catastrophic.