Some time ago I started to feel that if we take more than we give/do for others/the planet, then we are nothing more than parasites. This was actually a little bit depressing - when you realise that your mere existence is contributing towards the downfall of the world you live in and so many of its inhabitants, it makes you question your entire being and purpose.
It has been at the forefront of my mind in everyday life for some time now, and when thinking about projects I want to work on I try to select those that ultimately do more for others than they do for me. I extend this to everyday life too, I try to be a positive force in the life of others, meaning if I can do or say something that might help someone feel better about themselves or their own existence, or can help them to be a better version of themselves (including encouraging them to be better residents and care-takers of the planet) then it’s definitely something worth spending time on.
While it does help me feel a little less guilty about being a member of a species that is currently a huge scourge on the planet, I still don’t feel completely content - I feel there’s much more that (I) can do. It’s actually the driving force behind wanting to create a SN; the ultimate reason being to try and make the world a better place through it.
The other project I want to do is where we raise a million pounds for dogs! Definitely more of a fun project with far less stress than running a SN!! and even places like this, can, I believe, be a force for good… even if via meaningful and thought-provoking conversations like this
So to answer the question in the first post - a lot! I think technology is the key to saving the world, and as people who can code, we’re in a very privileged position to do something about it. This means YOU could quite possibly be the person that does
This is demonstrably false because our mere existence also gives back to the planet – in default conditions. Uncomfortable topics like human waste (pee / feces), if disposed of properly and given back to forests and fertile lands, definitely falls under the “giving back” category. (but not when it’s indiscriminately thrown out in the ocean, along with literal thousands of tons of plastic)
But I wouldn’t dwell on the fact that no matter how hard we try, we end up always taking more than we give. It’s the circle of life – the “simpler” life forms are used to fuel the more “complex” life forms and that has been the case since life at all existed. We’re not the only ones to reap the benefits of our superior intelligence compared to other species around.
A sweet but an ultimately doomed effort. Ego and greed are innate engines of evolution; without them systems get stuck and eventually looted and pillaged by the more savage and unscrupulous elements in the system.
Our life should IMO resemble a sinusoid curve – during some periods we take more, during others we give more. We cannot and should not always put ourselves in service of some invisible society. Sure all those people exist, I don’t doubt that; but how much of them do you meet or care about? And are you really sure what you do is going to affect them positively? Maybe, by skimping on some expenses you’re not saving the planet but are leaving an Indian or Chinese father jobless?
You already were that in my life and we haven’t even met. There are many ways to be an actual positive force. You absolutely are. You don’t have to center your entire existence around this ideal. All things in moderation!
ABSOLUTELY NOT. Please. For years now we have regulations that dog owners have to pick their dog’s poop after them. Why? One of the main reasons was that there are now so many dogs in the cities that the soil in the parks literally cannot handle all the poop!
It’s okay to love animals. I’d probably get physically violent if somebody harms a parrot or a cat in front of me. But animals in inner cities that litter outside – which means dogs in particular! – are becoming more and more of a problem. Plus, irresponsible owners figure they don’t want to care for their dog anymore and they just drive several blocks away and let the dog out and go back. And then you have non-neutered dog procreating with the other street dogs. Then people get attacked by the increasing number of stray dogs as well.
It’s a huge can of worms and I feel people should stop worshipping dogs as much as they do. Love them, sure, but refrain from taking more of them under your roof! I’d go even further: if you live in the inner city you should even be required to have a special permit to own a dog. That permit should likely cost 20,000 EUR and you should also be periodically required to prove that you continue to be a good dog owner. This steep financial penalty would likely fix the problem for decades ahead.
(Unless you live outside the city of course; there the dogs can do no harm to nature since nature there is so much more in area compared to the inner cities.)
Finally, the whole “be ecological citizens” thing I always found to be very hypocritical and very often an empty virtue signalling activity. I think I shared that with you once but it bears repeating – once I drew out a calculator to prove to a teacher that 50,000 people stopping their usage of electric kettles is but a drop in the ocean for less electricity usage and if that just ONE local factory switches to a more eco-friendly manufacturing process they can very easily outweigh what 250,000 to 500,000 citizens can do.
This was proven and backed by math by statisticians and engineers, many times.
Yes, we can be better. Yes, we can try to be less disruptive to the planet’s ecology. But us the regular citizens really can’t do much. There are much bigger entities out there that should lead the way.
It’s great to see that you’ve given so many of these things thought too and I think the thing I want to comment about most is on this:
Please don’t underestimate what you can achieve - you could create a piece of technology that could change the course of humanity I really do believe it is within us all (and people before us have shown this to be the case - where would we be without Alan Turing and computers for instance?).
It’s not that it’s true (or false) just something I personally feel. Sometimes I feel like I (/we’re) a cancer on this planet - taking far more than we ever give. Particularly when we weigh up the net positive/negative. It’s ok if you feel otherwise
It’s not a doomed or wasted effort for me some of it definitely brings me some comfort.
It doesn’t always have to be that way The past is a look into what’s been for sure, but it’s also a look at what could be - if we don’t like the past we can always use it to shape the future and make it a better future. In fact, some of the most negative stuff often acts as a catalyst for some of the most positive.
Awwww thank you for saying that
Haha, you just helped prove my point Dimi; there’s so much wrong in the pet world that more needs to be done. More education, more campaigning to stop puppy farmers, better registration systems, better pet-food standards, etc.
I would really enjoy doing that project - it would definitely feel worthwhile (for me anyway).
Btw, Germany are currently considering some tough laws on dog ownership which I think is a great idea. Sweden already has some brilliant laws on dog-breeding, which I would love to see more countries adopt - these are the sort of things the money we’d raise would help campaign towards. The funny thing is Phoenix would be a good fit for this project - hopefully it will be the first Phoenix project I do!
I agree that we may need to focus on the big polluters and causes. I think the largest difference I think we can make, or at least I can make, isn’t what I can personally do as a ‘citizen’ (eg recycling my plastic bottles) but through work such as the projects I mentioned… and that’s where I think most of us can make a difference too, because we’re fortunate to be able to almost single-handedly create projects that can have huge impact.
The important thing, at least in my view, is not that we share the same ideas or go down the same path - is that we act on what we think can make a difference - because who knows, your ideas could be a million times better than those of others.
As the famous French essayist Joseph Joubert said “The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” I feel the same is true of our actions - it doesn’t really matter who’s right or where the best ideas come from, those that can do humanity and planet the most good, is what truly matters
I’d like to leave you with a question Dimi - how do you think you can use your developer skills to ‘save’ the planet or make the world a better place in the most impactful way?
It’s only 5 billion years. But giving the fact that humans wander the earth for about one million years, I don’t expect that any human will be present by then. I would be surprised if humanity manage to survive the next 1000 years.
Ah thanks! I knew it had 5 in there not sure why I thought it was 50
Scientists have been saying for a while now that someone alive today may well live to be 1000:
Like you, I will be (pleasantly!) surprised if we reach that. I am hopeful we don’t annihilate ourselves before then tho (in fact, I have even thought about this as part of the plans for the SN I want to create - if I ever get around to it I am sure people are going to think I am crazy ).
Exactly, that is a really important point. I think we can all find deep inside us, something that is like a personal compelling mission. So that doing it bring us more hapiness… ^^
Maybe we are just pawns in the service of a greater intelligence, and just one person cannot do it all, but each one matters.
To answer the original question, I think that tech can contribute to make the world a really better place but it cannot do a much on its own against things such as political will that can divide people. But let’s stay positive!
I have a funny story about this that I might share one day - where after a particular event I felt like I had discovered what my purpose in life was. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!
You might be surprised Kurisu! We’re always hearing how ‘foreign forces’ are manipulating voters through social networks and although that’s not something I condone (govts meddling in the affairs of other nations), it shows that people’s politics are and can be influenced by tech - this gives hope for those who want to win people around to their more positive and progress political stances - particularly if it is done openly and without malice or subterfuge, i.e in more educational rather than manipulative ways.
This is something we have helped do on other sites I have managed too - one such example is helping get electric shock collars banned. They were once common and had little opposition, but, through education, exposure and dialogue we saw a shift in attitude and public opinion, and with increasing political pressure, we saw Wales become the first country ban the use of them. So tech can definitely be used as a force for good imo
Who is “we”? There are many very different types of humans.
Read history. People who dwell too much on being civilized and devising protocols of communication and interaction eventually always fall under those who have no scruples. (Medieval French aristocratic / knight army fell under the peasant armies of England, being one example.)
We cannot just scratch ego and greed out of the equation is what I am saying. They must be weaponized for good – but we can’t pretend they don’t exist.
You seem to make the very typical first-world citizen mistake of thinking that some people want education. On the contrary, there are some who will first buy illegal weapons and come to you and shoot you before receiving said education. A lot of people are very happy being ignorant and inconsiderate.
I have the questionable advantage of living in the inner city of one of the biggest cities on the Balkans and I am sometimes being exposed to such “people” – while you live in a beautiful countryside in a first-world country. Consider that your social bubble might be blinding you to some realities.
You and I agree completely on this. Many others don’t, was my point here.
Now we’re talking. I could do a lot… theoretically. But can I, really? When and how will we get enough free time and/or energy for it? I struggled to stay afloat and have enough money and material success all my life (although admittedly I only started doing things right after 35… past can really screw up your brain and put you on a self-destructive path!)
And now that I can finally feel a bit safer and do things… I no longer have the strength (I have to take care of my health still). But I am not sure after I regain my physical health if I would even want to start any side efforts. I am still enthusiastic about quite a few things in tech, but burnout and desire to chill and regenerate are getting stronger with time.
To answer your question: I’d devise a general AI (like Skynet) and will just laugh in my beach house while I watch live streams of panicking politicians as the AI takes over all governance on the planet. That’s what I’d do.
At my job I just built and rolled out a contact tracing system. We and the students already have badges with UPC’s on them that we haven’t really barely used in decades, just have to keep it on you visibly. So now I’m using that information at check-in points where people just do a quick scan as they go by (security is enforcing it because covid restrictions in this state) and if someone gets infected then we can tell whoever was near them that they should get checked out as well (without revealing who was infected).
I’ve done a lot on it to make it super quick to use, temporary ID’s on paper for guests (security is going to make up some badges for vendors to use more permanently), etc… etc…
This is a presentation I did about 6 years ago and I think the technology is still greatly under reported as the most reasonable transition away from fossils fuels in our vehicles and farming. Not to mention its potential as a distributed grid level energy storage medium as we use natural gas today.
This presentation desperately needs an update to include the advances in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) and Solid State Ammonia Synthesis (SSAS), the latest and greatest of which is usually presented at the annual conference by https://nh3fuelassociation.org/