Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Ask HN: What's a promising area to work on?
1331 points by richtapestry 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 918 comments
What's an area that people think is up and coming? (e.g. like social networks were in 2004, mobile apps in 2010, or vlogging in 2014)

I've finished several projects simultaneously and I'm looking to work in an area with lots of users, but as yet few producers. Wouldn't even need to involve programming, but probably would need to be online, as I'm pretty introverted!




In the online world, it seems like there are two big things happening right now:

- Neural networks / ML (eg GPT-2) Definitely nowhere near its potential for being applied to a wide variety of areas. Find a niche you like and apply there.

- Security / Privacy (eg Telegram) Rapidly growing demand pretty much everywhere. Bonus points if you can make your product great for standard users and at the same time hackable/customizable for people who want to do that. Capitalize on both legs of the pareto distribution.

That all being said, if you are ambitious and talented without an all-consuming passion for software, I highly recommend you find something you can work in hardware. Since the '70s or so most industries have been basically frozen, besides computer hardware/software. Yet in the meantime materials science and engineering design has advanced considerably, both of which form the basis for innovation in new technologies. This is why SpaceX was able to build components for 10-100x cheaper than the leading suppliers in the early 2000s.

I work at a startup in nuclear fission, particularly because this tech is at <1% of its potential right now. The same could be said for many other areas.

Here's some ideas you might find interesting, that I think could work in the next decade or so: - Supersonic air travel - Electric air travel - Nano/micro-scale metallurgy and materials for industry - Biological materials - Gut/microbiome - Genetic engineering - Nuclear fission / fusion - Carbon capture - Cross-laminated timber (CLT) for construction - Indoor farming / optimizing farming in general - Synthetic meat / meat alternatives


The most pressing problem for humanity is global climate disruption. Arguably, working on anything that doesn't help there is not just wasted effort, but actively harmful.

Wind, solar power, energy storage still have huge room for improvement.

Direct solar or wind -> liquid fuel will be essential to adapting fast.

Windmills can drive production of liquid ammonia on farms (needing only air and water inputs), for use directly as fertilizer and fuel, without need for a grid attachment and without blocking sunlight needed for the plants. Ammonia is not a very dense fuel (e.g. terrible for aircraft), but that doesn't matter for farm machinery.

Direct solar -> hydrogen has been demonstrated, with bio-reaction for hydrogen + CO2 -> liquid fuel suitable for aircraft. Direct hydrogen-fueled aircraft are feasible, and more efficient than with kerosine, but the design cycle is too long.

Wind turbines will be wearing out as the blades erode. No-moving-parts screens might be the next generation, extracting power by releasing ions to be carried away from an electric field. The old towers will still be useful, and the rare earths can be mined out for other uses, probably vehicle motors.

Batteries are a very material-intensive storage medium. Underwater air storage does not need exotic materials or tech, and the pressure at depth makes the strength of materials needed minimal, other than piping.

We need to replace huge amounts of refrigeration equipment with versions that don't rely on HFCs, and get the HFCs incinerated. One gram of HFC traps as much heat as 2500 g of CO2, and lasts centuries in the atmosphere. Once vented, it cannot be recaptured. Ammonia-cycle systems need to be made safe enough for general use, and HFC versions outlawed.

Without massive progress in the next decade, civilization will probably collapse by 2035.


“Without massive progress in the next decade, civilization will probably collapse by 2035.”

This is deathcult type rhetoric which has no scientific basis whatsoever.


With a more scientific approach, the IPCC[1] models show we could see mass migrations between 200M and 1.5B due to climate change before the end of the century. Not a total collapse, but the collapse of a dozen of countries due to unsustainable heat and drought.

[1] https://www.ipcc.ch/apps/njlite/srex/njlite_download.php%3Fi...


Yes, this is much more accurate of our best predictions.

Bjørn Lomborg says[1] by the end of the century, climate change left unchecked will only lower the global GDP by a 2-4 percentage points of what it would have otherwise grown to, which is going to be 300-1000% higher than today. So basically, best case scenario 980% GDP growth, worst case 288% GDP growth.

This shows climate change is a problem, but it's too slow to cause a global catastrophe by 2100.

Even better news, I'm very confident it will not be left unchecked, in fact I think we can get to net-zero emissions by 2040 or so.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QyXduteiWE


This is an interesting answer. Somebody says there will be hundred millions of people fleeing their then uninhabitable countries (which will lead to millions of death, just look how many people drown in the Mediterranean see each year now, and how the European population is more xenophobic year after year). And you answer saying GDP will be fine!


You're right, GDP growth does not outweigh deaths. However I don't think the primary issues caused by climate disruption will be human deaths, but instead the loss of assets in compromised areas. Humans will relocate, and lose a lot of wealth, but why would they die en mass?

> fleeing their then uninhabitable countries ... which will lead to millions of death

I'm not sure if this is true, actually. What is true is that millions of people every year die due to air pollution, but this isn't climate change, it's just our present pollution.

There's like ~50 million deaths per year if I recall correctly, and I'd be very surprised if more than 0.1% of that is caused by climate change. At least 5% of it is due to pollution, though, and I think probably more like 10%+


> Humans will relocate, and lose a lot of wealth, but why would they die en mass?

What a wonderful world you live in. Do you genuinely believe it's that simple?

What do you think happens when 1 million people move from one country to another? They do not simply relocate, they are parked in camps (if you want current examples of that look at the Rohingya people, or Syrian refugees in Lebanon) until they can go back home, as you can guess the sanitary situation of these camp is more than precarious (cholera is a big threat for instance). With climate change, their will be no way back, and it's not going to be one million of people, but hundred millions.

What do you think would happen if a country, let say Italy for instance, had to park 10 million people in camps for years? Don't you think people in camps would eventually revolt violently to get out? What would Italians do then? Don't you think European countries would anticipate this outcome and just block refugees from entering, shooting the one trying to? Because it's already in the political agenda of most far-right parties here in Europe, and most of them are not that far from power (Salvini and Orban and just the first of a long series coming…). Due to the fight against illegal immigration, there already been thousands (around 17 000) of death in the Mediterranean see since 2014. And you can be sure it's not going to be better when all central Africa is uninhabitable …

And when people fleeing their countries are not accepted (as in “parked”) in neighboring countries, they just wander in the wild until everyone is dead. That happened for instance to people fleeing Rwanda to Congo.

Large scale population migration are incredibly difficult, and they almost always go wrong, and least a bit. Expecting 1 to 10% of the refugees dying isn't that pessimistic. From the figures discussed earlier, that mean between 2 and 150 million death. Which comes in the same ballpark as the biggest humanitarian disaster of the 20th century…


I feel you're conflating two different types of migration, and the issue isn't nearly as big as your 150 million deaths figure.

Almost all countries have ample space that will still be habitable for their entire population in 2100, even if climate change is left unchecked.

Those that don't represent a small portion of the global population, certainly less than 500 million people. I grew up in Botswana, and I know that "all of central Africa is uninhabitable" is not a likely outcome anytime soon. Most of Africa is actually really good land to live in, and will continue to be fairly good through the century.

In any case, Italy does not need to "park 10 million people in camps". Italy is a tiny country in terms of land area, so why would they need to take so many? Russia and Canada alone could easily fit a few billion immigrants each if global warming is really severe in a few centuries.

The notion that the only solution to climate change is to move everybody into already crowded places doesn't seem to have a base. We can solve the migration problem with or without moving people into Europe.

Anyways, my core point here is (a) we won't need to deal with this migration anyways, because we will solve climate change way before it becomes necessary, and (b) even if we didn't lower our emissions, I'm confident we can solve the migration problem without millions of deaths.


I'm less confident that a mass migration wouldn't result in millions of deaths. An example might be the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Only 14 million displaced, yet an estimated 200k-2 million deaths and another 2 million people missing[1]. In many ways, this planned displacement was a more favorable scenario than a chaotic climate refugee situation.

If we don't have a good answer to the relatively simple refugee migrations now (eg. Central America, Syria), then I have extreme pessimism that we will be able to manage a larger-scale, persistent event. Whereas with economic + political refugee situations we can always hope to resolve the root cause, with climate change it is simply the new normal.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partition_of_India


> Russia and Canada alone could easily fit a few billion immigrants each if global warming is really severe in a few centuries.

Russia absolutely isn't going to do that, and who's going to pay to move them across the Atlantic to a country that they're not allowed to immigrate to?

I'm kind of leaning the other way: millions of avoidable deaths is the "normal war" situation, even if we magically solved climate change tomorrow.


Oh interesting, so you pretend to know how Russia will act in 100 years from now. Interesting science you got there!


> Almost all countries have ample space that will still be habitable for their entire population in 2100, even if climate change is left unchecked

That's a really dubious one. There's multiple issues with global warming, drought and desertification being one of them (and it probably will not affect a whole country) but the second one is just the max temperature the human body can, withstand especially with high humidity. When this threshold is passed, you can have thousands of people dying at the same time in your country. When every summer, heatwaves take a few of your neighbours you start reconsidering how nice your country is.

Remember, we're going to have more than a 2°C increase in mean temperature by the end of the century, and maybe 4°C. 4°C is the difference between now and the last ice age when the whole Europe was covered by huge glaciers.

Also, many people live near shores, which will be damaged frequently as the see level rises… How would India, who have a borderline genocidal tendency (fantasised mostly at the moment buy still frightening) against Muslims nowadays, react to the massive arrival of Bengali people coming from Bangladesh after a typhoon destroyed their land?

> Italy is a tiny country in terms of land area, so why would they need to take so many?

Because that's where they arrive… I'm not speculating when I talk about Italy, this is happening right now (not 10 millions, but hundred of thousands).

> Anyways, my core point here is (a) we won't need to deal with this migration anyways, because we will solve climate change way before it becomes necessary, and (b) even if we didn't lower our emissions, I'm confident we can solve the migration problem without millions of deaths.

Regarding (a), you should probably read this https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emissions_budget

Regarding (b), I admire your confidence, but it sounds delusional in regard of the whole human history.


> drought and desertification

This is an issue, but increased atmospheric carbon and the latitude land distribution of the Earth probably means desertification will be net-negative for at least a while. (I don't have a source for this, but I recall reading that we have more trees today than ever in history?) Keep in mind, carbon is what plants eat.

> When every summer, heatwaves take a few of your neighbours you start reconsidering how nice your country is.

This is also a good point, but once again, there are also people who die from cold. I've been living in Toronto for the last year, and there are many people who die of cold in the winter every year, mainly the poor and elderly. It's not clear that global warming is net-negative at the moment for extreme temperature related deaths.

> we're going to have more than a 2°C increase in mean temperature by the end of the century, and maybe 4°C

I don't agree with this. This might be true if population+QoL growth continues and our emissions per capita stay at today's levels, but that won't happen. Like I said, we are going to fix CC by mid-century, and mean temp increase above pre-industrial levels will be less than 1.5°C by 2100 - not 4°C above today's levels.

> Because that's where they arrive

This is a different type of migration. Nobody is migrating internationally because their country is uninhabitable due to climate change, because there are no such countries today.

> About (a), you should probably read this...

Thank you, I'm aware of what's necessary to accomplish this. We are well on our way. If it wasn't for funding and regulatory limitations, I'm pretty sure we could be net-zero by 2028 just based on the technologies we have in development today.


Desertification is currently increasing: https://www.un.org/en/events/desertification_decade/whynow.s...

> more trees today than ever in history?

Depending on how big you count history this sounds really implausible.

> carbon is what plants eat.

A slogan commonly repeated by global warming denialists, because it's true but highly misleading. Plants also primarily require water, and the temperature rise dries out a lot of places.


> Depending on how big you count history this sounds really implausible.

History := the recorded past (in this case I mean the last few hundred years)

> Desertification is currently increasing

Okay, you're right about this based on the link you sent. In my head I was considering arctic regions / tundra as desert as well, as their recent forestation rate is much faster.

> temperature rise dries out a lot of places

This is true but it also causes other places to become more humid. Higher temperature climate has more liquid water + more entropy ==> more active water cycle on global average. (This is a gross oversimplification but my point is that the increase in temperature is an increase in chaos, and so water that is currently frozen somewhere will be moving around.)

--

The important idea to note here is that we can't just ask "does global warming cause more X"? Because the answer can be yes in some areas and no in others, and an increase in X somewhere does not mean a net increase globally.


Best current evidence is that the plants whose growth rate is limited by carbon dioxide availability, and so grow faster with higher CO2 concentration, are parasitic vines. Others are limited by other factors.


cultural conflicts are the issue. There may be space in Italy for another 30 million inhabitants but soon you will have Muslims fighting Catholics (and getting slaughtered). That's a humanitarian disaster in my book


That's a big part of the problem. Policy makers have a tendency to care more about GDP than about people. As long as the numbers look good, people are mere statistics.

Rich countries are in a better position to mitigate the effects of global warming and climate change than poor countries. Rich people will be better able to insulate themselves from the effects that do occur in their country than poor people do.

Imagine New York is about to flood. Rich New Yorkers will probably already have a house somewhere else. The poor ones won't. And they can't afford to buy a new house if their current one becomes worthless. Their jobs are also more tied to the city than those of rich people. Moving Wallstreet will cost a lot of money, but that money is there.


Rich countries do indeed adapt better to climate change than poor, but the point about GDP is to show that in the future all countries will be rich countries (compared to the present).

If wealthy nations today can adapt to rising sea levels, and today's poor countries will eventually become just as wealthy, why will they be unable to adapt as well?


Rich countries are, visibly, adapting to increasing migration by adopting increasingly fascist governments. Is there any objective reason to expect this trend to reverse, as migration continues to increase?

Please explain your reasoning.

There is no reason to believe that countries that are becoming uninhabitable will become wealthy at the same time. The people who are best positioned to create wealth are exactly those who flee first.


If the history of the last 40 years of "climate debate" teaches us anything, then that it will not only be left unchecked, but it will become worse. There is absolutely no reason to be optimistic about CO2 emissions on a global scale.

If zero emissions by 2040 is a realistic scenario, then we have to create the foundations of this development now. What we do instead is: lackluster regulations in Europe, active denialism and in the US, expansion of the oil- and gas industry in Russia and increased coal production in China.


> There is absolutely no reason to be optimistic about CO2 emissions on a global scale. > we have to create the foundations of this development now

We are. The company I work at aims to eliminate ~60% of global emissions ourselves and provide the economic basis for the other 40%.

The only major section of global emissions that doesn't seem to have an obvious full solution is concrete production, which I'm sure we can offset with sequestration, and reduce with wood-based CLT construction.

Every other major component of emissions has a solution that is in active development right now, or already available and in the process of adoption. I think there's plenty of reason to be optimistic.


> The company I work at aims to eliminate ~60% of global emissions ourselves

Well, nobody could accuse your company of having small ambitions!

When its website consists of little more than a few sweeping "We will [...]" statements and a lot of "This page is missing", though, you'll perhaps understand if some people are a little sceptical.


Yeah we're updating that at the moment, the site isn't a big priority so we don't have anybody full time on it.

Will be fixed in a week or so.


By the way, Bjørn Lomborg is an unreliable and often misleading source. Why? See for yourself multiple examples of quality analysis with actual scientific sources. Highly recommended: [1] https://youtu.be/9FQX1u-aqrA [2] https://youtu.be/hwMPFDqyfrA

And that's analysis of Bjørn Lomborg's work by those who actively support pragmatic, cost-effective, and often 'conservative' solutions to environmental problems and climate change. Examples: [3] https://youtu.be/D99qI42KGB0 [4] https://youtu.be/6fV6eeckxTs


Bjørn Lomborg's education is in political science and statistics. His analyses, while occasionally thought-provoking, are opposed by the vast majority of actual working climate scientists. He has gotten a lot of attention by simply being a climate contrarian.


The same implication could be made about climate scientists, who are not trained in geopolitics or economics. I don't think it's fair to box people in based on their education, and also, there isn't any degree which really qualifies you fully to discuss the geopolitical and economic impacts of climate science.


> The same implication could be made about climate scientists, who are not trained in geopolitics or economics.

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. I would take a climate scientist's opinion of macroeconomic trends with a grain of salt, to say the least.

PhD's are a deep dive into a very narrow field of study. They are most definitely not a "universal expert" certification.


404 Not found


Sorry for the broken link, Google URLs on mobile are a mess. Here's the link : https://www.ipcc.ch/apps/njlite/srex/njlite_download.php?id=...


URL doesn't work


I just wish there would be a way to hold these doomsday preachers responsible. In the end they will all shrugg it of with that smirk of 'oh back then we didn't know better'.


I am glad they took the responsibility in the 1850-1870 to not burn/chop down most of the forest in Norway. A lot of the places still don’t have trees because of wind and to much water in the ground.


Considering we can't hold big oil accountable for burrying the lede on climate change, and electing to spread lies and cause confusion instead, I guess that's fair.


If you know how to manage involuntary migration of 100M-2B population from newly uninhabitable land to established sovereign territory without triggering global thermonuclear warfare, do speak up.


The governments in those countries have enough resources to buy enough land in colder areas for all their people. Would definitely be economically disadvantageous for the migrant nation, but there's no reason it needs to cause "global thermonuclear warfare"


I see that you have very little acquaintance with politics as it is practiced.

What we see happening in the US, with the small amount of migration occurring so far, is spending $billions on building walls.


With the way things are going ww3 will be about water. It’s easy to imagine half of Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia to pack and move as a whole.


Can you expand on what you mean by this? How will water cause a war? Do you mean freshwater access?


Global warming will melt ice caps and flood the world. Or global warming will evaporate water and dry the world.

One thing is sure. Global warming, water and world war three. /s


> flood the world

No, there isn't nearly that much water.

> will evaporate water and dry the world

How would this work? Either the water is on the ground or it is in the air, neither case is a dry world. Where would all the water go to "dry the world"?


When the large fraction of the world population that depends on seafood for their protein loses that input as ocean acidification crashes fish nurseries, do not expect them to adapt peacefully.

So, will WW3 be about access to living space, fresh water or protein? Or all three at once?

Not a great choice.


> The most pressing problem for humanity is global climate disruption.

I don't believe most would agree here. There are a lot of problems humanity faces, and humanity is a lot of different people. Those still living in extreme poverty today probably don't care about our worries of climate disruption.

> Arguably, working on anything that doesn't help there is not just wasted effort, but actively harmful.

Why is this?

> Direct hydrogen-fueled aircraft are feasible, and more efficient than with kerosine, but the design cycle is too long.

This is really interesting but doesn't strike me as true based on my background. Do you have anything I could read regarding? I would be very interested

> Without massive progress in the next decade, civilization will probably collapse by 2035.

This I really don't agree with or understand.

I'm very worried about emissions, but I don't see why civilization would collapse any time soon, if at all. 2035 is very soon.


> Those still living in extreme poverty today probably don't care about our worries of climate disruption.

Tell that to 100Million people in poverty in Bangladesh that will become climate refugees if the sea level rises in any meaningful way.

In the west, sea-side living is a privilege for the richest. And sea level rise is mostly ignorable with the virtue of new seawalls.

In the developing world, the most poverty-stricken are the closest to the water, and nobody will be funding solutions for them.


Also have a look at Zimbabwe where climate change is already seriously compounding existing problems. The poorest are hit the hardest.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/13/health/climate-change-zimbabw...


You're right about those people, but I'm not talking about them. There are people living in extreme poverty today who won't even be alive anymore by the time sea level rise causes a problem.

Who are we to claim that climate change is the most pressing issue facing humanity, when much of humanity faces unrelated life threatening issues?


You're looking at humanity through the lens of an individual. The reality is that the threats to people in extreme poverty are not going to threaten humanity as a whole.

I am defining humanity as the progression and prosperity of the human race. Climate change could ultimately threaten the entire human race. It could even result in extinction in the worst case scenario.

I disagree with the comment that because of this, all minds should be focused solely on this issue, and that all other problems should be ignored. But the reality is that a small subset of humanity living in extreme poverty does not pose an existential threat to civilization or the human species.


Only a small percentage of the population lives in extreme poverty today, yes.

But even a smaller percentage deals with significant issues due to climate change, today. The changes thus far have been excessively inflated, and may be net-positive so far.

You're right about the worst case scenario, GHG emissions could in theory lead to Earth becoming like Venus or somewhere in between the two where the atmosphere is bad enough to cause the end of humanity. But this is extremely unlikely and might not even be possible with the sum of our economically accessible fossil fuel reserves.

In reality, it seems there is still a threat of huge increase in poverty due to some WW3 type event, or a superbug global plague, or something like that.

I think it's unfair to weigh climate change above poverty at the moment, even for the overall prosperity of the human race.

In fact, I think climate change will end up being much worse for the rest of life on Earth than humanity. We have the advantage of being able to plan and react in advance, so we will probably be fine for a long time to come, but most plants and animals might go extinct.


Humanity is not facing extinction, even if we indulge in global thermonuclear war.

Comfortable civilization will vanish, for at least centuries, taking with it food security, education, and high-tech industry. We will retain iron scrapping. We might keep dentistry, in luckier pockets.


There are people who are alive today, and who won't be next year because of extreme weather events tied to climate change.

And that's before getting into real live issues to do with water rights, habitation, crop resilience to changing weather patterns, energy access and usage. These issues are likely to spark wars in our lifetime (if they haven't already.. Syria and the Arab Spring was tied to crop failures and high food prices). And these issues disproportionately affect the poor living today. Entirely aside from rising sea levels which will compound the damage


I'm not sure this is true, at least not on net.

Do you have any scientific evidence showing a net global increase in extreme weather events in the last several decades?


It is true. "New data show that extreme weather events have become more frequent over the past 36 years, with a significant uptick in floods and other hydrological events compared even with five years ago, according to a new publication" https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180321130859.h...


Have you even looked out the window, lately?


Not all areas experience extreme weather. Where I live, there's basically no extreme weather ever.


Lucky you. That experience does not generalize.


> Those still living in extreme poverty today probably don't care about our worries of climate disruption.

No doubt about it. At this point it's probably a better idea to start preparing for the changes rather than stopping them, unless we somehow manage to achieve some magical global unity around a single goal.

> I don't see why civilization would collapse any time soon

Civilizational collapse is a slow process. I doubt the people of the later stages of the Roman empire felt their society collapsed. It's more likely they simply experienced slowly decaying infrastructure as maintenance was neglected, social unrest, and the absence of the advantages we get from a large centralized authorities, all in a span of many decades.

I'm not saying that it's happening, or not happening -- It's just that you wouldn't know until it's happened.


> At this point it's probably a better idea to start preparing for the changes rather than stopping them

Yeah, this is probably best practice for people in regions that are projected to be left mostly uninhabitable / with severe barriers to life. This won't really be too much of a problem even if climate change is left unchecked, as Bjørn Lomborg says[1], it will only cost us 2-4% of GDP by end of century.

> Civilizational collapse is a slow process. I doubt the people of the later stages of the Roman empire felt their society collapsed.

I'd like to point out an important note: the guy said civilization would collapse, not a civilization. I'm not sure if you mean the same thing he does, but civilization itself has never, in history, collapsed, even during the plague and fall of the roman empire. We've been pretty much A-okay on a global level since 12,000 years ago.

You're definitely right about individual states, and it is almost certainly true that several countries may end up collapsing due to climate disruption, but not the big ones and probably no time soon.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QyXduteiWE


> Yeah, this is probably best practice for people in regions that are projected to be left mostly uninhabitable

I'd go as far as arguing that _everyone_ should prepare for what's coming. All of us will be affected, be it directly or indirectly, through things like the (most likely) inevitable refugee crisis, or increased food prices and lower standards of living.

> but civilization itself has never, in history, collapsed

I meant individual civilizations and not civilization itself, although I read the original comment as something happening to "our" civilization and not all of them. Total collapse of civilization itself would require something cataclysmic happening on a global scale, and that the effects of said event are so severe that all of humanity fail to restore itself within the time span of several generations.

Some of the more alarmist reports about global warming are indeed pointing at that scenario, although it's more likely that progress will be slower, and that humanity as a whole will be able to adapt in the long run.

Regardless, I am convinced that even if we were talking about the actual end of civilization itself, it would not necessarily be evident to us until it was too late.

The fact that there are alarm bells ringing about the climate now is an indicator of climate changes being either:

a) survivable for humanity as a whole by doing what we can to prevent it and prepare for what happens if we fail

b) the end of the world and it's too late to do anything

This turned darker than I planned. :D


> All of us will be affected

Actually, I'm pretty sure places like Greenland, Canada, Russia etc. will be mostly positively affected. I'm mostly concerned about the changes to the ocean when it comes to affecting all humans. The unfortunate reality is that unchecked global warming will probably lower food prices and increase standards of living in many places that are already rich, while causing destruction in places that are already relatively poor.

> alarm bells ringing about the climate...

The third option you left out is that the alarm is overinflated. With an issue as controversial as climate change, you can be almost certain that both the alarmists and skeptics are both wrong, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Also, I really don't think the end of the world is a realistic result of climate change. If you really want something to worry about, there are always meteors, gamma rays and the potential for nuclear war, superbugs, or biological WOMD.


Global thermonuclear war is a likely end stage, as fascists are swept into power in reaction to mass migration from the tropics.

Sane governmental response is a fantastic assumption. The orange baboon, along with present counterparts in Russia, Brazil, India, China, Turkey, Indonesia, Hungary are just a hint at what is to come.


I don't think the people terrible enough to launch nukes all other the place are in the position to do that. If the last 70 years are any indication, people don't tend to nuke other people.


There are nukes in Pakistan, India, Israel, Russia, other former Soviet countries, China, and US, all under increasingly fascistic rule. The orange baboon has publicly entertained using them just for dramatic effect. What do you imagine will restrain them as tensions resulting from mass migration, collapsing harvests, and desertification continue to grow?


Hey, with a bit of luck we'll get a nuclear winter which will counter global warming. -.-


You are being excessive.

First, why do you assume they would migrate north and not further south?

In your model do you expect people to move in or out of Australia, South Africa, Chile, etc. ?


Maybe because most of the land is in the north? This is not rocket science.


How does that change anything? Humanity could fit into a small island with the population density of dt Tokyo. There is plenty of land up, down, left and right.


> The third option you left out is that the alarm is overinflated.

I agree. I intended that to be implied as a possibility for the first option. Bad things will most likely happen, but it's unlikely that it's THAT bad.


> it will only cost us 2-4% of GDP by end of century

The projections suggest that it's much cheaper to avert climate change than to deal with the consequences, and much less painful.

If we can afford to lose x% of GDP dealing with the problems, why can't we spend less than that to avoid the problem, and avoid a huge amount of human misery and ecological collapse in the process?


> why can't we spend less than that to avoid the problem

We can, and we are. That's why I do what I do.

You're absolutely right, it is much cheaper to avert climate change than deal with the consequences. It's also necessary to transition to sustainable energy eventually because we will run out of fossil fuels regardless of what happens with the climate.

The solutions to climate change are being worked on right now by many talented people around the world. I'm confident we will reach the IPCC SR15 1.5 degree Celsius goals.


We aren't, and we won't. Coal and oil usage are still increasing, and the US is increasing its subsidy for them. Russia, China, and India are still building new coal-fired power plants. Fascist representation in governments is increasing worldwide.

Action is falling far short of what would be needed to cap temperature rise, and there is no motion toward greater enforcement.

Any developments in fission could only have substantial effect decades after events will overtake them.


> Any developments in fission could only have substantial effect decades after events will overtake them.

We only need 2 decades to fix the energy part of emissions, and the IPCC has given us 3.

> and there is no motion toward greater enforcement.

Enforcement isn't needed to get to net zero emissions. It's profitable long term to swap to clean energy and electrified vehicles and appliances, they're more efficient. Also fossil fuel abundance will eventually drop to the point where prices rise.

Free markets will solve our emissions problem, I'm not sure why you are worried about enforcement or the type of governments when it comes to this.


Gdp is a imaginary number madeup by economists using mg outdated pre computer methods. Gdp will break down under climate change. Heat causes discomfort, toxins cause mental illness. Your great America capitalist machine cant even stop mentally corrupted children from shooting their schoolmates. Wake up.

Egyptians lasted for 5000 years before christ was born, their civilization had expired completely during the rise of rome.

our modern society requires (depends) on specialization. It is not good at adaptation.

Our brains principally stopped evolving 50000 years ago. We're still learning how to use them and enhance/repair our bodies.

Gdp is 100 years old. We're not using gdp for anything in a ClimateChange multiple species foodchain collapse. Capitalism is 150 years old.

We probably aren't even using money in 100 years. A quantum supremacy machine has broken bitcoin satoshi blocks. Elons neurAlink connected by starlink allows us to communicate telepathically. If his hypermind doesn't build it by that time then mine will. Cheers.


Dear friends,

Ahem.. Humans have only had rationale thought for the last 50000 years. We are classified as Greater apes.

Destabilized governments run by extremists and nuclear weapons. Trumps usa deny Climate change. Fuch koch.

It was a good run. Unchecked climate change toxins from unchecked reactors exploding, blabla caused by heAT triggering rising water tables.. Godzilla.

Its a Multi species collapse. Nothing humans have ever experienced. Nothing mammals have ever experienced. Stfu and join r/extinctionrebellion


Civilizational collapse has more often been sudden than gradual. Previous collapses have been local or regional. The world is much more interdependent today.


Such ridiculousness in posts like these. You want to stop climate change? That effort needs to include China and India, which between the two, are good for much of climate changing exhausts. You want truly renewable energy, with high yields and limited need for resources, go nuclear. Oh that's right, our climate zealots, who would have you punished for using your internal combustion engine auto, are afraid of nuclear, so that's off the table. Is climate change real? Yes. But stop with the sensational Green New Deals and the banning of air travel and such. Start with China and India.


You are from US, right?


It's not like climate change is or should be our only concern. Not doing anything against any of humanity's problems could be considered a harmful waste of time and talent maybe.


I agree 100% with you on this. I think the idea that talented people have a moral obligation to spend their time trying to solve humanity's problems or advance our consciousness and curiosity should be much more widespread. Look at where all the ivy league grads are going. It's kind of sad to see.


> The most pressing problem for humanity is global climate disruption.

Our climate and ecology are certainly at risk, but I think the biggest threat in the world right now is the rapid rise of fascist China. They're challenging the notion that free speech and democracy are required for capitalism and economic gain.

China has grown so emboldened under President Xi that they're no longer content to just alter or buy out our media companies. They're flat out dictating marching orders to Western organizations and asking for employees that oppose their mandates to be fired. They're kidnapping foreign nationals and holding them hostage on trumped up charges. They've grown beyond stealing our ideas - now they're trying to supplant them.

That doesn't even begin to capture the things they're doing within their own borders. Surveillance state, social credit, travel limitations, Uyghur detention camps, supposed organ harvesting, Hong Kong / Tibet / Taiwan, ... In China it's actually 1984, and they're teaching the world that it works. If they win this battle, I worry we might wind up facing similar prospects in our future.

> Without massive progress in the next decade, civilization will probably collapse by 2035.

That's a little bit overblown. Want to make a bet on longbets.org? I'll happily donate to a green cause.


Everything you fear about the rise of fascist China was far worse under the USSR in the latter 20th Century, and in fact far worse in China during that time too.

I’m not intending to downplay the impact on minorities within China, or their growing global influence. It’s just that what China is doing is fundamentally the same category of human and national behavior we have seen for 100 years. Relatively speaking, it is less destructive than what came before. We must address it but the tools to do so are available and obvious.

It pales before the threat of climate change because that is a new category of threat to global society.

Why? Because water, food, and real property are fundamental to the health and economies of all nations, and climate change will create massive unfunded changes to those. It’s one thing to have an aggressive nation on the world stage a la China. It’s quite another if hundreds of millions of people need to migrate and have no money to do so. The latter is well within the realm of possibility given what we know about climate change.


What is the point of the human race surviving if it turns into some 1984-like dystopia with cameras in my house making sure I pledge allegiance to Emperor Xi's portrait every morning or my social credit score plummets?

Give me the climate (or nuclear) apocalypse, instead, please.


Humanity never had a point. It just is. Humans will survive everything imaginable, in much reduced numbers.

There were once 100M people in the Amazon basin, wiped out by plagues brought by Europeans 5 centuries ago. A few survived. The trees growing in unchecked in the depopulated Americas reduced CO2 enough to cause a mini ice age.

That won't be enough to bring down temperatures in the next collapse because the CFCs and HFCs won't go away. But at least the oceans will get less acid.


>> Without massive progress in the next decade, civilization will probably collapse by 2035.

> That's a little bit overblown. Want to make a bet on longbets.org? I'll happily donate to a green cause.

"If civilization collapse by 2035, I vow to donate 3 flints and 10 sticks to a green cause."


> If civilization collapse by 2035, I vow to donate 3 flints and 10 sticks to a green cause.

Exactly.


> Our climate and ecology are certainly at risk, but I think the biggest threat in the world right now is the rapid rise of fascist China. They're challenging the notion that free speech and democracy are required for capitalism and economic gain.

That is exactly my main concern in the modern age also. Other countries are already interested in China's technology: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-23/sixth-world-internet-...

'Countries looking to crackdown on dissent and the spread of information — like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Laos, Serbia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — have already signed up to China's "digital silk road".'


A long time ago I had a chat with hacker about IP over short wave radio with PGP encryption... his hypotheses was one could do encrypted long range communication via IP that could never be stopped and would be tough to decrypt. Does such a system exist today?


You probably could do that, but then hiding the equipment required is a major challenge and in places like China will come with stiff penalties.


> They're challenging the notion that free speech and democracy are required for capitalism and economic gain.

Well this notion is simply not true, these two things are tangentially related at best.

You sound like ‘because they demonstrated against my beliefs, they need to be shut down’. Not for this reason, there are plenty of other reason to pick from.


The most pressing problem for humanity is poverty. But I agree that working on natural energy is crucial to solve it.

We need to provide energy to the network of machines that will produce the basic supplies to cover humanity's fundamental needs.


I agree completely. If we can make energy ~10x cheaper, I think we can eliminate poverty globally up to a pop of around 50 billion or more.


> Without massive progress in the next decade, civilization will probably collapse by 2035.

This is a joke not backed by any scientific consensus or evidence. Maybe some more instability in some countries, but nothing close to the collapse of civilization.


When I see charts showing the temperature raising at exponential rate like this one

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_temperature_record#/med...

I find it very hard to deny that something bad is going to happen eventually. Because whatever is the phenomenon that is pushing the temperatures up, I see no reason for it to stop.

So massive disruption in a near future is a reasonable hypothesis, rather than a joke.


HFCs are already being phased out in favor of HFOs (though you could certainly argue that this should be happening more quickly), is there a strong reason to go for ammonia based systems over HFO?


Thank you, the atmospheric half-life of HFOs is short enough to make it a viable alternative to ammonia as a refrigerant. However, the existing stocks of HFCs, in installed systems, is enough to match, if vented, the heating from all the CO2 currently in the atmosphere.


At least we will not have to worry about Y2038 then..


>Here's some ideas you might find interesting,

To expand on your key ideas: it looks pretty comprehensive but if you're interested in making the world a better place as well, have a look at 80,000 hours [1]. They've been thinking about this question for at least 8 years and it's quite extensive. They have a simple quiz that might also be an interesting starting point [2].

[1] https://80000hours.org/key-ideas/

[2] https://80000hours.org/career-quiz/#/


Hey luc4sdreyer, thanks for the link! I'm about to graduate college soon and I find the 80000hours website extremely helpful. Randomly encountering this site is one of the best thing that happened this week, thank you very much!


> That all being said, if you are ambitious and talented without an all-consuming passion for software, I highly recommend you find something you can work in hardware. Since the '70s or so most industries have been basically frozen, besides computer hardware/software. Yet in the meantime materials science and engineering design has advanced considerably, both of which form the basis for innovation in new technologies. This is why SpaceX was able to build components for 10-100x cheaper than the leading suppliers in the early 2000s.

I honestly feel like reading this is a moment that I will l recall in about 8 years and think: "Damn, I wish I listend to that comment about hardware from johnmorrison".


How do we act on it, instead? (not being a dick)


General answer:

Become a specialist, or drive funding/regulatory pushes towards these new hardware technologies. Figure out what you see as the barriers to their commercialization, then figure out what component of that problem you'd love to work on, and become an expert in that.

My biased answer:

If you're in the position to spend a lot of time learning and experimenting with new stuff (e.g. a highschool or uni student), I'd recommend becoming an expert somewhere along the liquid fueled fission reactor stack. Chem eng, nuclear eng, rare earth extraction, uranium extraction, working with molten salts, working with liquid metals, anything like that.

If all goes well, I'll be needing people in just about every specialization there.


Being a specialist isn't enough. You along - no matter how good you are - are not enough. Either you need to control enough money that you can hire many specialist (Elon Musk with SpaceX), or you need to convince someone with money that is the right path. The skills for each of these are people skills not technical. Either way you will spend all your time in management activities so technical skills are not worth learning (beyond enough to understand what is feasible).

If you want to focus on technical skills, then you need to find a specialty that someone with good management skills will think important so that you can work with many other experts to develop things.


Companies that change the physical world require a lot higher specialist:founder ratio. There is enough capital and ambitious managerial types around, what we really have a shortage of is specialists in new technical areas.


How does a former software engineer get into nuclear tech? What specific skills and positions would be required?


Well, there are engineers needed to develop new CAD / sim software to better model liquid nuclear fuels. That basically would require you to have a very good understanding of software engineering + fluid mechanics, nuclear physics, thermodynamics and chemistry


Thank you. I'm part-time studying applied maths to be able to work on something like that one day.


Great! Feel free to update me in the future :)


I love how you say you're working on fission because it's at <1% of its potential. That's a really wise perspective.

> If all goes well, I'll be needing people in just about every specialization there.

How far along are you in the Oak Ridge guys' elaborately detailed Molten Salt Reactor development program plan from 1974 [1], as far as it's relevant? If parts of it are irrelevant, how significant are the things you have to do that they didn't?

[1] https://www.osti.gov/biblio/4227904


There are some things that have become irrelevant for now, particularly the need for a stellite alloy. Most of the things we are doing differently from ORNL in our division for thermal MSRs is based on the progress in materials and CAD since the winding down of the ORNL MSRs.

There are a lot of promising mostly mix-able design choices in MSRs that have become apparent in the last few decades, so we are never fully committed to a particular set.


As someone using ML in production at scale, it's not the sophistication of the models themselves, but all the "boring" operational stuff around them.

- Keeping them fed with clean, high quality, low latency feature data.

- Understanding the impact of an ML intervention on the overall system or business process, in aggregate and for all the relevant subpopulations.

- Understanding why scores may be drifting. These are very challenging alerts to investigate.

- Resource efficiency at very high QPS or in mobile contexts.


+ Running constant live experiments on actual traffic to make sure it continues to do what you think it does.


>- Security / Privacy (eg Telegram)

But Telegram offers just as much security and privacy as Slack.


1. They are vey different. Those who arent aware of the large differences shouldn't comment as if they are they are subject experts. Telegram might be full of holes but it is a very different thing to Slack. (I use both for different things.)

2. I have my own issues with Telegram (the refusal to introduce sustainable funding, pushing of crypto currencies, possibly also marketing it as more than it is) but except that there's a lot to like about it and I think it is a decent starting point if someone with strong cryptographic skills wants to start with a decent client and go ahead to provide something better (either introduce e2e-encryption or improve, document and provide some way to verify the current solution.)


[flagged]


This is getting tiresome and I don't think I'll move ryanlol, but for everyone else:

One big difference between slack and Telegram is that Slack can and will give my data to the administrator at work if they ask for it.

ryanlol seems to be thinking only about the last hop from their data center to the device. In practice security is about a whole lot more than just checking of the coolest boxes: WhatsApp for example has had e2e encryption for a while now all while uploading every last message of every conversation to datacenters that are easily accessible for anyone with an American subpoena.

That is totally OK, I'm posting this from my old account and I don't have anything to hide from American authorities but hardly compatible with what certain people here think that just because something is e2e encrypted then it safe and good.

So why is Telegram bulletproof. That was a trick question : it isn't. But we should stick to the facts instead of trying to tear down a strawman.

Re the rest of ryanlols post: as I've mentioned before most people here don't understand Russian, yet ryanlol keep posting old Russian posts. I don't know why.


>The big difference between slack and Telegram is that Slack can easily give my data to the administrator at work if they ask for it.

Sure, that's perfectly fair. With Slack you have to trust Slack and the admins of your workspace (which could very well be you!), with Telegram you have to trust Telegram but don't get workspaces.

>Re the rest of your post: as I've mentioned begore most people here don't understand Russian, yet you keep posting old Russian posts.

It's hardly unreasonable to assume that people in 2019 have access to translation software, I also think it'd be presumptuous to directly link to a machine translated version.


> With Slack you have to trust Slack and the admins of your workspace (which could very well be you!), with Telegram you have to trust Telegram but don't get workspaces.

Small modification:

With Slack you have to trust the admins (which is most often not you) as well as Slack.

With Telegram you have to trust Telegram.

I trust none of them much but there's still a difference. Also as far as I am aware Slack has never ever pointed out if they encrypt their data at rest which leads me to guess that they don't do it.

But hey, we almost agreed here.


E2E encryption is kind of a fucky thing, some suggest it is fundamentally impossible for central web services and even mobile / desktop apps. Basically, if there is a third party involved in the code besides Alice and Bob, the two can never guarantee E2E encryption.

Web part is simple, as there are countless ways you can get malicious code delivered from what you think is the correct, safe, web server.

Same concept applies to app store / desktop program updates, but with a slightly slower and more difficult attack prospect.

Anyways, Telegram does seem to have the best encryption of any major service, and it's what we use at my company for almost all internal communications.


>E2E encryption is kind of a fucky thing, some suggest it is fundamentally impossible for central web services and even mobile / desktop apps

"some suggest" How about you actually name some competent people who suggest this?

>Basically, if there is a third party involved in the code besides Alice and Bob, the two can never guarantee E2E encryption.

Oh, this is a downright insane, dishonest argument. Perfection is impossible, so we shouldn't even try!

>Anyways, Telegram does seem to have the best encryption of any major service, and it's what we use at my company for almost all internal communications.

Why do you think this? This is such a fundamentally ridiculous claim, I find it absolutely fascinating that someone might arrive at this conclusion.


> How about you actually name some competent people who suggest this?

As I don't remember the name of everybody I read about, it would take significant effort to go find the source.

It's much simpler to prove the concept logically:

Any time you're communicating on a service provided, programmed, and updated by at least one third party, it is fundamentally impossible to guarantee E2EE without being omniscient of what they're doing.

This is simply because the unen/decrypted data is in the software at some point in time, and the third party controls the software.

> Oh, this is a downright insane, dishonest argument. Perfection is impossible, so we shouldn't even try!

I did not say or imply this in any way, and no it is neither an insane nor dishonest argument, it's just a consequence of allowing a third party to control your data.


An upvote for that just to prove that we can agree as long as we stick to the facts however harsh they are.


Two words: Signal Protocol


It's an american development by a company that refuses to release actually open software. Perhaps it's good in theory! As far as I am aware there is no open implementation of it and it is also inside a problematic regime and therefore just as suspect.


Signal clients are released aa open source as far as I am aware and mathematics doesn't care about what regime it is developed under.

You guys will normally find me defending Telegram here but the more important point is that we should stick to the facts even if they go in favor of "the other side".


I have not to date found anything that allows me to build a client myself and subsequently actually use it. Never mind the server, which is about as opaque as they come.

This isn't about Telegram advocacy, it's about how I keep reading "Signal is so good!" even though the devs have a very bad attitude to anyone asking about reproducible builds. When they are that hostile they do not earn trust, so it is mystifying to me that people seem to love them so much.


The clients are available under GPLv3.


Yeah, the Kremlin backed startup that was already caught shipping blatant backdoors is so much better https://habr.com/en/post/206900/


1. The man behind Telegram cannot even safely visit Russia after people with friends in high places stole his previous startup there or so the story goes.

2. As have been pointed out before, while this is really bad if true, but you are pointing to something that happened extremely early in the development of Telegram and later fixed (and as I've mentioned before you keep throwing a link to an old Russian post in a forun where most people have never read a word Russian. I'll add this time that it is almost as you don't want anyone to read it.)


>1. The man behind Telegram cannot even safely visit Russia after people with friends in high places stole his previous startup there or so the story goes.

Yeah, exactly. That's how the official story goes. However in reality he seems to often visit the country he is supposed to be in exile from https://tjournal.ru/tech/52954-durov-back-in-ussr https://lenta.ru/news/2017/03/20/durov/

It's also very well documented that Telegram was developed in offices shared with the same startup that was supposedly stolen from him, https://theoutline.com/post/2348/what-isn-t-telegram-saying-... https://twitter.com/bershidsky/status/910169626989953024 https://twitter.com/ChristopherJM/status/910186197598838784

Unfortunately the western press doesn't really care about Telegram or the Durovs so we don't really have heaps of high quality journalism to count on.

>but you are pointing to something that happened extremely early in the development of Telegram and later fixed

I'm not convinced that this is something that can be fixed. Sure, they removed the backdoor they added but does that really fix the organization?

I think it's utterly irrelevant that this backdoor was added and removed a while ago, the Telegram team hasn't significantly changed since then.

>I've mentioned before you keep throwing a link to an old Russian post in a forun where most people have never read a word Russian

I don't read Russian either, but I have no problem reading this post with google translate (or yandex translate if you'd like) and I assume that you too have access to this amazing technology.


I'm gonna go in a different direction: broadly, solutions that deal with the problems of an aging population:

1. Technology that helps doctors/practices service more elderly patients

2. Wellbeing technology for seniors (Headspace/Calm should totally push towards this area)

3. Personnel management for homecare nursing

List could go on and on. None of this is especially "trendy" but there's clear demographic reasons to build startups in this area and there's going to be a natural onramp of capital & solutions for how to care for a radically older population are going be sorely needed.


I worked in these spaces for the past few years.

Money is the biggest challenge. Elderly who can afford to pay for their care have plenty of options available for all of this. Many elderly (on Medicare or fixed income) simply don't have any money.

> 1. Technology that helps doctors/practices service more elderly patients

Telemedicine and home care services, like Honor, are addressing this. Telemedicine will improve as more technically adept people age.

> 2. Wellbeing technology for seniors (Headspace/Calm should totally push towards this area)

This is purely a monetary issue. The moment Medicare covers these services, they will be used extensively.

> 3. Personnel management for homecare nursing

This one is part money and part skill. There simply isn't enough money to pay people with homecare skills. The price most people are willing to pay typically falls in the range of a Home Health Aid. There are some great ones, but there are also tons that lack skills, ethics, and compassion for the role.

I don't blame them either. Why would you do home health when you can get similar pay working at a factory, warehouse, or, even, fast food.


> I don't blame them either. Why would you do home health when you can get similar pay working at a factory, warehouse, or, even, fast food.

My mother was a nurse for years in the aged care sector. The pay for a qualified nurse is actually pretty good (I would still argue it should be higher for the work, but it was well above average).

Homecare aids (or AIN/care assistants as they were called here) are paid horribly and treated as expendable (even when the roles are difficult to fill since no one wants to wipe asses and give 89 year old dementia patients bed baths for $18.6 AUD per hour).

Most of the care assistants I met were checked out and only there because they had no other option. The combination of minimum wage and high turnover also means you end up with some really horrible people in these roles. I remember hearing multiple stories about care assistants stealing from homes and mistreating patients. If you paid a little better and treated the staff with respect, you wouldn't need to hire the dregs of society to look after the most vulnerable in society.


We are at a turning point in society right now because of all the things you address. In the last few decades have seen a rapid shift in the willingness of family members to look after their elderly.

There's a few reasons for this, the biggest I think is the ageing population. When your parents need care at 85 years old, and you are 60 looking at retiring soon (or perhaps can't retire and need to work for another 7 years), most people decide they'd rather enjoy the last few years of their "active" life before perhaps even needing care themselves, rather than be "burdened" with caring for parents, relatives, etc. And so it falls either on the state, or on the generational wealth of the elderly to foot the bill and pay for care. Relatives often shoot themselves in the foot though. Their inheritance is being spent on paying somebody to wipe their mum's backside, because they didn't want to look after them themselves. (Unless their parents are on medicare or whatever, in which case there's even less reason for them to care).

The only part is just societies disdain and repulsion of sickness, bodily fluids, etc. Centuries ago, if you could live comfortably (not amazingly, but not be in the street), just by showering a few old people and cleaning up poo, you'd have people lining up round the block to do it. Now, the willingness to work (and therefore the salary curve) has inverted, and you need to pay people increasing amounts of money to do what was once considered menial or easy work.


> Relatives often shoot themselves in the foot though ... because they didn't want to look after them themselves.

Or because it is too difficult to do so. People are having children later in life and moving to different cities. Housing affordability in many places makes it difficult to provide for a family on one income. If your parents need care as young as 80 and you are 50 with young teenaged children, your capacity to also provide daily living assistance to up to four people who live 100 miles away in opposite directions is rather limited.

> Centuries ago, if you could live comfortably ... you need to pay people increasing amounts of money to do what was once considered menial or easy work

Jobs like this in domestic service or healthcare often came with accommodation and sometimes board.

Even if that's in a dormitory, it would still often be better accommodation than you would be able to afford on the market. The level of comfort relative to others of your class would be enormous.

Nowadays, those affordability problems that everyone is experiencing are compounded for people in roles that would previously have been live-in positions.

Another issue is that the job of a healthcare assistant is not only poorly paid, but is also not part of a career path. Previously, much of this work would have been done by (often trainee or junior) nurses, with all the prestige and potential that that career brings with it.


There are refuges from poor countries that would love to live in my parent's basement and take care of them. They would think it is great - a kitchen of their own (not all houses have this, it happens my parent's house does), bathroom with a tub, a private bedroom, plus a living room that is larger than the mud hut they lived in back home. Of course they will discover in winter that they won't be going outside so that much space is small, but there is also the rest of the house that is semi-available. Of course everybody has a different house and so situations are different. However if you are reading this odds are you have (or could afford if you wanted) a house large enough to have spare space for servants.

Legally though you can't do it. You can't import such people easily. Even if you could, you have to pay them a wage that is affordable despite also providing room and board. I'm not sure this is a bad thing overall, but even though for the world's poorest just room and board, and $1/day would be a lifestyle improvement.


This is a good thing and is a mark of progress, it seems you're arguing we should lower wages and living/working standards so that people are willing to do these jobs. This is close to a backward and selfish line of thinking that 'people should be willing to do things for me for less money'.

Why should essential jobs like caring for people be paid so little compated to jobs that provide little value to society like banking and PR? It's essentially the 'Bullshit jobs' argument made by David Graeber


"Now, the willingness to work (and therefore the salary curve) has inverted..."

And surely this is a sign of people's laziness, rather than increasing costs of living relative to wages... Rent, student debt, randomly allocated medical debt, ageing parents with caretakers to pay... These things add up. Minimum wage work just moves you backwards; probably better to take a risk on further schooling to get something that pays realistically.


"Centuries ago, if you could live comfortably (not amazingly, but not be in the street), just by showering a few old people and cleaning up poo, you'd have people lining up round the block to do it."

I'm not sure you'd need to go back centuries. There were times in the 1900's that was the case. And in some countries, other that the USA, it still is.


> Telemedicine will improve as more technically adept people age.

There's a little bit of user blaming in that statement (not being critical, just thinking out loud). Dealing with the elderly and folks who are less familiar with tech is an interesting design space.

Does anyone know design patterns that specifically seek to improve the experience for non-tech savy elderly?


I think user blame is a bit of an under simplification.

In this case, the issue stems beyond just the product. In many cases, these elderly households don't even have internet access as it's simply not something that's needed for their daily life.

No matter how good a telemedicine product is, it's nearly impossible to deliver without the underlying infrastructure (and desire for that infrastructure) in place.

For the elderly with internet connection, telemedicine is already a pretty simple user experience.


This is a good article on design patterns and considerations when designing for older users: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/02/designing-digital-t...


Yes. You can look at US Cellular, of all companies, as one on the "bleeding edge" of part of this trend.

You have people aging into a technological world built by kids with hands and fingers that work well, eyes that work well, and little cognitive decline.

This industry is garbage for the disabled and old. Just garbage. Trying running a WCAG compliance check on any arbitrary piece of software. For most of you, that means looking up WCAG. For 99%+ of you, you will have trouble even finding tools for the products you work on.

Someone will make a lot of money with a much simpler cell phone with a lot of white glove handling of security and OS updates, and just a curated set of apps. Apps designed for these populations and their unique problems (but sensitive to their age related disabilities) will be big, too.

edit: for example: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14748929 "Iris recognition as a biometric method after cataract surgery." and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19604439 "The use of computer touch-screen technology for the collection of patient-reported outcome data in rheumatoid arthritis: comparison with standardized paper questionnaires"


The problem with some of this is product-market-timing fit.

There are huge problems to solve that add value. But some of these businesses are very old school.

You can't force someone to digitise if they don't want to.

There are a lot of barriers to entry, and there can be lengthy sales cycles.

Someone will definitely get there and be hugely succesful, I'm just not sure if the time is now or if we'll need to wait years.


A tool for children to remotely manage parents' phones, tablets, routers and (may be) computers would be nice to have. My parents are not very tech savvy and when something goes wrong getting someone to fix it takes forever. If I had remote access I'd do it in just a few minutes.


My solution to this is loading them up with iOS and macOS devices, enabling iCloud backup, and having them live near an Apple store for hardware issues.

They can click on all the shady links they want, but I haven’t had to field tech support in a long time.


I've had pretty good experiences with handing them Linux machines (usually openSUSE + Xfce). There's an initial adjustment period as they figure out "okay the orange fox replaces the blue e", but quite a few people I know who made that switch are now at least reasonably productive. Chromebooks are another option here that I've seen be pretty successful, and they have the advantage of being absurdly cheap.

The absolute biggest bang for the buck: ad-blockers. Fewer sketchy links to click on, and absolutely nothing to relearn.


Seniors minds are less flexible to change so a consistently exact OS with exact functionality is best even it looks out of date to us. I had to hire someone to exactly recreate my mom's desktop and and find and install her 15 yo apps. This kept her going with searches and email for another five years when otherwise she would just have given up. Also in-home tech people who are very, very patient. I'd happily pay $100/hour not to do that.


This is tough for us too - we were even thinking of buying two iPads connected to their Cloud account, just so whenever they locked themselves out, we could mail them the one we have while they mail us the broken one.

The biggest problem for iPads is every time there's a software update, it asks you to set a keypad password. They set one, thinking they are guessing one they've already set, they don't remember it, and they get locked out every time.


> The biggest problem for iPads is every time there's a software update, it asks you to set a keypad password.

I don't think that's true. What iOS version did they experience this on?


Same. I got mine a used iphone4 mainly for whatsapp a few years ago and it was hard doing phone support for an 80+ year old. Harder when she can't describe the ux, interfaces aren't standard (back vs cancel vs < vs x), and in modern design few things stand out as tappable/clickable. Remote access would've been fantastic.


LogMeIn, Teamviewer, VNC..?


There are a number of companies already starting on this. One in particular that comes to mind is Reliq Tech, which does remote monitoring for patients. Currently they have pilots with native reserves, where doctors are hundreds of kilometres away from their patients.


Unpopular opinion: Domain driven stack.

We have been living in the golden era of software industry, thanks to Moore's law. We were able to afford RISC (= general purpose CPU arch), general purpose operating systems, general purpose languages, general purpose databases etc all because the hardware was going to evolve and get faster anyway.

Now with Moore's law showing signs of death, the future for better computing would be domain driven stack. A quick thought experiment will be that: cloud applications will be written with cloud-friendly languages, using cloud friendly databases, on cloud-ready operating systems and processors that are architected for heavy cloud workloads. Much like how gaming was relying on custom stack for performance (GPUs, play station, X-box, etc)

The advent of TPUs by Google is a symptom of this pattern too. Of course, personal computers with general-purpose-everything will keep existing, but the business industry will start shifting towards domain driven stack slowly and steadily for obvious reasons.


Not sure this adds up for me. So long as network latency and throughput remain asymmetrically limited with respect to machine and CPU cache speed, the implementation detail of data locality will bleed into anything you write. At that point, what makes a language, database, OS anymore "cloud-friendly" than what we have today? I can already get 90% of the way there with Kubernetes, Aurora and any language of choice.


Unpopular answer: Meh.

I see your point, but we are already using specialized algorithms to solve problems on generic hardware (CPU). You can move to different generic hardware (GPU/OpenCL/...) which might be better suited (depending on the problem), or use/rent more generic hardware on demand (cloud computing).

What you're implying is already happening, using/programming "generic" FPGAs to act as specialized accelerators seems to be slowly trending (e.g. Xilinx UltraScale); and if that's working well, "larger" process nodes seem to be getting cheaper these days (e.g. >= 45nm ASICs). But as far as I am aware the tooling and ecosystem for all this is still pretty bad; especially compared to how C/C++ compilers came a long way, JS's ease of accessibility or python's trove of libraries. (Disclaimer: I am not working in that field, so I might be outdated).

So to refine you suggestion: Improving the eco system around hardware synthetization could be a thing?

However, that doesn't seem to be what user richtapestry was thinking of(?).


I just wanted to clarify your example. When you say cloud applications, I assume you mean applications written to run a cloud, as opposed to running IN a cloud?

Because if it's the latter, that doesn't sound like a domain driven stack to me.


Not sure what more recent xboxes are like, but the original xbox was a cut down windows 2000 running on Intel and Nvidia. It was really close to commodity hardware and software.


In terms of hardware, they're running on AMD x86 CPUs. AFAIK there isn't anything special about them, other than having a wider memory bus (they use GDDR5 as opposed to DDR4).


But it had a really thin OS layer, and everybody had virtually exactly the same box, so you could micro-optimize to the exact architecture. IMO it does fit the concept of "domain specific stack", it's just that homogeneity is one of the important properties of the stack instead of unbridled performance.


the current Xbox is running a Windows 10 (one kernel design) while the PS4 run a patched up FreeBSD.

Only Nintendo bothers with writing custom kernels, and historically Sony with the PS2 having exotic "Cell" processor units.


You mean PS3? It had the CBE.


The Switch also runs on FreeBSD, not custom.


It is still true that most cloud-provider datacenters house racks of commodity hardware? If so, I could definitely imagine a shift to hardware that was designed to support running virtualized environments while keeping power and cooling costs down.

I'm not sure what that would look like. Mainframe-esque, perhaps?


Re: "cloud applications will be written with cloud-friendly languages"

Carefull, you invest your code base on a "cloud-friendly" language and clouds then could fall out of style. That goes for other components as well.


I feel like the language choice isn't going to be what bites people here, the danger is more architecting to a specific platform, relying on its SDKs and optimizing to a provider's specific resource idiosyncrasies.


That is true, but somebody did mention a "cloud friendly language". Most of the languages in common use were designed pre-cloud. This new thing, whatever it is, could thus have cloud dependencies that current languages don't.


So DSLs and ASPs?


Maybe this is not the answer you're looking for: but I think CRISPR-Cas9 seems like the most exciting technology probably in all of science. It's a system that can be used to literally change the DNA of living creatures, and on top of that it's highly accessible. Think of the hacker culture today and now imagine the same rate of change for biological engineering.

We'll have massive libraries of re-usable "components" for interesting DNA-sequences. People will slowly slice together more complicated features, and freely trade organic components with each other via post. At some point in the future electronics will catch up to bioengineering, leading to better ways to make changes to DNA. We'll eventually be able to change DNA in something like a "biology IDE" and have usable components printed out the other end. After that point, our world probably won't look anything like it does today.

It won't be long before someone decides to give themselves glowing skin or super strong muscles (and people have already tried the latter!) I for one welcome our super-human overlords.


> I think CRISPR-Cas9 seems like the most exciting technology probably in all of science.

I tend to agree. However, having spoken at length about this with a friend doing her PhD, there are a few major problems between now and then.

- Scope: if you thought Big Data (relating to human behavior) was a massive endeavor (still very much not solved, not by a long shot), try genetics. We're talking orders of magnitude Bigger Data. We have the PoC but finding practical solutions remains a hard problem as we speak (needle in a haystack).

- Money: Bio-sectors don't pay software engineers enough to compete with the tech sector (almost no one does), and bio-experts are generally not good enough at it. So there's a huge lack in terms of dual [SE skills + domain knowledge] experts for this category of problems. Research funding is massive in big (private) pharma and comparably non-existent in basic research — and for now, CRISPR-Cas9 is mostly the latter.

The first problem (resources) will probably solve itself as time goes by (assuming some Moore's Law continuation however it's done), however the second problem (domain / education politics? Idk how to call it) could virtually be forever — academia and big pharma aren't exactly known for being fast movers or innovators, let alone disruptors. Especially when CRISPR-Cas9 is a direct threat to well-established revenues in the trillions — curing whatever is much less profitable than selling drugs to ease symptoms over a lifetime.

If this sounds like somptuous irony, it's probably because it is.


> We have the PoC but finding practical solutions remains a hard problem as we speak (needle in a haystack).

One of my former lab mates was doing his thesis on some fluorescent cancers screening stuff, somewhat similar. In his presentations, he'd use a slide explaining the order of magnitude issues in finding cancer cells this way. To illustrate this he'd explain it wasn't like finding a needle i a haystack, but more like trying to find a 20-gauge needle in a Walmart filled with 19-gauge needles.

>Bio-sectors don't pay software engineers enough to compete with the tech sector (almost no one does), and bio-experts are generally not good enough at it.

I've a fair amount of programming (enough to be really dangerous), so other students would come to me with help every once in a while. One of my friends getting his PhD in neuroscience traded a case of beer for an afternoon in helping him. He was doing some vision research with gerbil and was trying to time neuron spikes with some images on a screen. By the 32nd nested 'if statement', I requested another case of beer.

Generally, research-grade programming and software is, at best, spaghetti. At worst, you get answers that you think are right, but are wildly off. You can really lie to yourself, and the rest of the world, when you publish those errors as facts. Most grad students are learning programming by the seat of their threadbare pants, and it shows.


I get the heebie jeebies when I hear computer technologists getting excited about gene editing.

Computing and biology are opposite one another as disciplines. Computing has been built up by people from invented principles; but in biology we are working our way down from observations to try to infer the principles underlying them.

It’s easy to look at our global computing infrastructure and think we are good at understanding complexity. But we built that; we should understand it. Again: not true for biology. There’s no guarantee that we will ever fully understand the full scope of how life works.

And computing still has problems! Side effects are rampant in software; we usually call those bugs or vulnerabilities and there are a lot of them.

And electronic computing has fewer ethical concerns. It’s generally not considered unethical to risk crashing a computer. Very different story if you are risking deforming foetuses


Genetics has its own share of bugs. I'd love to edit high cholesterol our of my genes. Yes we must be careful, but it isn't like doing nothing is risk free: doing nothing means me and my family have heart attacks and die young.


> Think of the hacker culture today and now imagine the same rate of change for biological engineering.

I can't wait for all the pre-alpha version creatures :-P


DIY Cas9 Crisper DNA Kit: http://www.the-odin.com/diy-crispr-kit/

Not affiliated with the company. Just amazed at how accessible that tech is becoming.


Crypto.

And no, I don't mean applying blockchain to everything, or internet money that just goes "up and to the right".

I mean the new applications of distributed systems research and cryptographic primitives that allow for highly composable, highly trustworthy, permissionless, autonomous machines.

MakerDAO, Arweave, the whole field of open finance (aka "DeFi"), and so many others collectively are very likely to change the fundamental assumptions we make when using software.

Here's a great talk regarding trustlessness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0rZcpfF5dU


I think the people behind "trustlessness" should have chosen a better word. When people that are not familiar with crypto hear trustless, they can associate the solution with the common definition: "not worthy of trust; faithless; unreliable; false". I.e. the solution isn't reliable. I realize that the people behind it are trying to apply the world trustless to the problem they are solving, but that is definitely not clear from the quick soundbites people read.

source: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/trustless


Yeah I was thinking more "Provable".


Maybe 'trustification'? A novelish term for novel concepts around creating trust where it wouldn't otherwise be.


Some people are calling it web3.

https://web3.foundation/about/


A very fair point.


I suspect a lot of people have this on their mind but the whole money-grab brouhaha made it bad manners to mention in civilized society. Better for those who are nevertheless on the bandwagon I guess.

I do agree with you, though. I recently had to work with Uniswap and I am blown away by how simple yet convenient and powerful it is. Not possible pre-blockchain at all. I think the mistake that people are making is thinking that blockchain is trying to replace some current relationships, and unsuccessfully, yet with these Ethereum projects it seems like completely novel systems are emerging that were not possible before blockchain.


Up until an average person stops treating crypto as a magical get-rich-quick possibility, I would rather suggest to stay away from it. Currently, even if you come up with something truly remarkable and solving an actual problem, many people will still treat it like yet another ponzicoin.


You're absolutely correct, and that's what makes it a great area of study.


It reminds of the article that was posted yesterday (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21315942) that said the biggest disruptors are the technologies that start out looking like toys. An HN commentor mentioned (which I now can't find) that what differentiates actual toys from big technologies that start out looking like toys is the fact that the fad never passes despite looking like a toy. Crypto has seemed like a toy with no practical applications since it's inception but for some reason it's still around. I wonder if that points to eventual significant growth for the field.


If someone can figure out how to do crypto without burning through thousands of CPU-hours of compute, they would have a real winner on their hands. Of course, execution is also a key factor in success. There are lots of good ideas that were had by multiple people, but only one successfully executed.


It’s called Proof of Stake (as opposed to Proof of Work) and there are multiple implementations working already and Ethereum will migrate to PoS next year.

PoS is conceptually more complicated (block producing is assigned to nodes with staked currency and there are multiple validation techniques) but requires very little CPU power.


> If someone can figure out how to do crypto without burning through thousands of CPU-hours of compute...

I will freely admit that I'm only passingly familiar with many of the concepts of cryptocurrency, but - isn't that precisely the point? If coins are easy to mine, then they're valueless. I must be missing something...


There are other potential ways to make currency difficult to obtain without such significant energy usage.


> do crypto without burning through thousands of CPU-hours of compute

Imagine how video games could grow if only somebody invented how to make games that doesn't burn through thousands of GPU-hours of compute.


This is definitely an area that will get more and more interesting and profitable. It's extremely complicated and "centralized" right now to get things to work with each other in a secure and reliable way. You need to dive into the arcana of authentication mechanisms each with their oddities or complex and difficult to debug subsystems like IAM. An understandable and debuggable solution would be very popular and profitable.


You can think of it like Trust as a Service (Taas).


That's a very, VERY good start. I'm stealing it. ;-) Y'all should do the same when explaining what this crypto-thing is — and stay away from even mentioning 'coins', stay on "BlockChain" as it is the enabling tech (call it "distributed database" to make it even simpler and non-buzzy); whereas applying it to currency is but one application among many (and possibly not the killer-app that BC needs to emerge in the mainstream).


Happy to see Arweave mentioned here, their dev community is super strong and they're doing a lot right from what I see.


ML for healthcare. The whole industry is so far behind everything else, it is not even funny. Problem is, Just like Airbnb or Uber, the biggest road blocks are not technological, they are organizational and political. It is entirely possible, we might need some major privacy / security related leaps in ML to convince the medical industry to adopt it fully.

ML in movies and rendering. Deep Fakes is just an amateur's tech demo. In a few years, I expect to see render rights actually become a thing. Like, you don't act in the movie, but give a company rights to use a 3d render of you in it.

real time and full time holograms / AR. With remote work becoming a thing, I see a huge market for full 3d renders of the person presenting or even completely virtual AR work places where people check in to work. Maybe not for a decade or two, but whoever builds the flagship product will make a ton of money.


> ML for healthcare.

I'm kind of apprehensive about this advancement. There's many ways to mess this up, from intentional dataset poisoning (to encourage patients to get unnecessary procedure) to just terrible errors made with just a shift in data capture methodology. This paper has a lot of detail on how such systems can fail (https://arxiv.org/pdf/1804.05296.pdf).


People are already encouraged to get procedures or medications they don't need. A data set isn't going to change that.


Not to mention quarter of a million dead per year due to medical errors. If we could even just reduce the number of medical errors by 10 percent, that'd be HUGE. Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/22/medical-errors-third-leading...

Unfortunately, it's a multi-trillion dollar industry with insanely entrenched and deep pocketed players, and the old boy network the likes of which us software people can't even imagine. And that's before you consider the regulatory framework and the cost of compliance with it.


Solving medical errors would be huge. The problem is that it's a long-tailed problem with no clear way to solve with software. Every error is different, and there are already lots of bureaucratic mitigations in place every step of the way. There are no algorithms capable of the general reasoning required to broadly spot all types of errors including de novo ones.

The only way to truly guarantee no medical errors is to replace every agent in a hospital with a machine.


I bet just even solving the errors in diagnostics and/or catching stuff before it's too far gone would be huge in itself. I'm not talking AGI here, just bog standard perceptual stuff: looking at xrays, MRIs, mining medical records for patterns, handing unstructured medical records better, low hanging stuff like that.


Automating literally any automatable healthcare process with software is virtually guaranteed to eliminate errors in that process, because it wouldn't be implemented in the first place if its accuracy wasn't superhuman. It's a lot of different bog standard stuff like you said. Medical imaging, yeah this should already have been done by now. Parsing medical records--you don't even need neural networks for that. But then it's no longer a Solving Medical Errors problem but instead a Automating Medical Job X problem. The general problem per se as I envision it would watch a stream of written actions performed in a hospital (maybe even surveillance footage) and determine if an error happened or is likely to happen; that's AGI.


> There's many ways to mess this up, from intentional dataset poisoning (to encourage patients to get unnecessary procedure)

Within the current system- you can just skip to encouraging patients to get unnecessary procedures. At worst, ML adds an extra step.

It's important to remember that innovation doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be better than the system it replaces.


Healthcare tech has been the "next big area" for the past 40 years. Maybe this time is different, but historically it never pans out. Healthcare's an extremely regulated, extremely change-averse area of the economy where entrenched insiders will always close ranks to protect their own.


> Healthcare tech has been the "next big area" for the past 40 years. Maybe this time is different, but historically it never pans out.

How do you figure that it never pans out? Healthcare providers use a lot more technology today than they did in 1979.

From medical devices to billing software to electronic health records, I think this is an area that will continue to grow.


I wouldn't be so sure. My millionaire uncle built his fortune on medical software, and I have a friend who works in the field with a degree just for it (medical technologies).


I’d love to learn more about your uncle’s story! Can you provide any additional details? What does the software do?


the sales lifecycle in healthcare is a tough nut to crack, most healthcare orgs arent reviewing software every year, they are signing multi year contracts and allergic to change(for a number of systemic reasons). Plus the conglomeration of syndicates has made fewer clients to sell to, at least on the higher end). There are companies making fortunes in the space for sure, but I think many just sell to mckesson after reaching a decent size.

It is 100% a field that needs disrupting... someone will figure it out and become very wealthy.


Healthcare is a huge monopoly. They won't add modern tech because they don't need to compete, even in the US where healthcare is/was supposedly free market. People in healthcare are extremely conformist from my experience and basically look down on the SV way of doing things. I think the only way they will advance is if something is 10x better than what they already have, which to their credit, nothing so far is. You have to come up with something better than, “Do what you were doing but holding an iPad”. It also has to be directly obviously profitable, so no disease prevention. A good general direction would be something that somehow lets a doctor see more patients. One of the big macro trends is there's going to be a huge shortage of doctors.


"healthcare tech never pans out" -> BRB while I check my heart rate and take an electrocardiogram reading on my watch... Looks like the [10000 steps] I've been averaging per day are improving my resting heart rate and I see my daily weight scale shows I've lost [5lbs]! :)

Yeah, that's kinda-surface-level stuff, but these kind of health metrics are already extremely commonplace and helping open the door to further tech<->healthcare integration.


This is already a thing. In the upcoming video game Death Stranding, Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn both play physical roles without having taken part in the motion-capture or voice acting. They gave the rights for their likenesses to be used without actually taking part.


There's an ocean of quality difference between a video game and a (non-CGI) movie.


There really isn't, any more. A few more polys in the models and a few more rays in the path tracing aren't a big difference. Check out what Blender can do with Eevee, which is more-or-less a realtime engine. Better physics simulations are still a big differentiator, but that doesn't matter for characters. The only reason rendered likenesses don't appear in films more (because they already do, look at Peter Cushing) is that they're still expensive and take a lot of manual work, and both of those factors are decreasing rapidly.


The CGI Peter Cushing is obviously CGI and non CGI Peter Cushing is obviously not. Its impressive but its not remotely close to being there yet. Is there a better example? You can probably make some CGI stills that fool people pretty well, but so far I haven't seen a convincing animated character.

Death Stranding is even more glaringly obvious. However to be fair to the devs they aren't under the impression that it looks like anything other than a videogame. A very pretty videogame, but still obvious CGI.


> CGI Peter Cushing is obviously CGI and non CGI Peter Cushing is obviously not.

It's interesting you say that, because I've found there are two camps of people on CGI Cushing: those who say the CGI is blindingly obvious and nowhere near realism, and those who didn't even notice. It is already good enough to fool some of the population.

I'm also not saying Death Stranding is photorealistic--unlike Tarkin it wouldn't fool anyone. I'm saying there's nowhere near an "ocean" of quality difference between the best video games and film CGI. Death Stranding isn't an example I'd use because it runs on PS4 and thus lacks the raytracing and high poly counts of state-of-the-art PC games.


RE: deep fakes, in a few years a movie director will be able to say to his editor: "increase Tom Cruise's rage and facial contortions in this scene by 50%"


What you're talking with 'render rights' is a major plot point in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Congress_(2013_film)


Also, the Michael Crichton movie Looker: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Looker


Ages ago Glyph (he of Twisted Python fame) said we would get to the point where we can e.g. use the Indiana Jones movies to build a computer model of Indiana Jones and make more movies...


> give a company rights to use a 3d render of you in it

There's reason why actors earn money and it's not due to perfect face or body.


Years ago I was shared an anecdote of researchers affiliated with Scripps Research were able to predict a cholera outbreak in subsaharan Africa from reports in another country using analytics.


DIY healthcare


I see a huge trend coming in “DIY Medicine”. Doctors, insurers, and the FDA are way too expensive for mere gatekeeping, and technology is developing new treatments and dropping equipment costs an order of magnitude faster than they can respond. For example, I can buy all of the equipment necessary for a PRP injection for less than the cost of a single treatment, and the doctor that does it knows no more about how to do it than any nurse that took a weekend course. There are also many simple drugs that aren’t used because they either can’t be patented or because the cost is too low. Many of these treatments obviate the need for much more expensive and dangerous treatments with questionable outcomes, like surgery and high-priced drugs. Doctors know that the price of the most effective treatments may not sustain their profession. So if we’re not there already, it’s coming to the point where the medical industry does more harm than good, and gray market treatments will give far better outcomes for an order magnitude lower cost.


Funny that you mention PRP. Was about to get one, then decided to do more research. The evidence is not good. Just saw a surgeon today who says he doesn't get good results with it for sub-patellar tendon tears, but has seen promising results for arthritis.

I dunno there are a lot of medical conspiracy theories, but the average person doesn't know crap about how we know their bodies work. A couple of years of biophysics has taught me that biology is waaaaaaay more complicated than the nastiest distributed computer system you've ever heard of.

When I hear civilians trying to talk about health or bio, or why cancer is a hoax ... it's like being a car mechanic who knows a thing or two about cars and having someone come up to you to tell you they need their banana wipers replaced because the windshields don't roll properly when they put their foot on the cigarette lighter. Like ... I have no idea what you're even saying beyond some medieval animist notions of good stuff and bad stuff. /rant


"Doctors know that the price of the most effective treatments may not sustain their profession."

This is not really a fair assessment. The most cost effective treatments can be self administered. But if you are coming in to see me because of persistent knee pain, more often that not you have already tried tylenol and over the counter nsaids (ibuprofen, etc.), and your pain has been persistent. The next set of treatment options, aside from maybe some physical therapy, are more expensive, because they involve using drugs that are more expensive or treatment measures that are more expensive. With re: PRP, it is not covered by insurance, since the benefits of it over a placebo are still not entirely clear. Many doctors offer it however, and to insure accuracy of needle placement, they usually perform it under ultrasound guidance- not something most people would be able to do on their own, at least not yet. As more and more physicians offer it, and if it remains uncovered, market forces will drive the prices down (like Lasik), although I'm doubtful PRP is considered an effective treatment option in the future.

I don't disagree with the notion that healthcare remains quite expensive in general. I see telemedicine, for certain conditions, reducing costs and maybe Direct Primary Care - bundling care into one package instead of serving it piecemeal could be a good way to go forward.


Telemedicine is pretty cool. I was pretty amazed when I had a pretty nasty rash on my leg, went to my insurance site looking for a nearby doctor, and saw the "talk to a Doctor in 5 minutes option". Filled in some basic info and was talking to a Doctor who prescribed me the appropriate medication all within 30 minutes.

Seems likely it will just be a matter of time until little storefronts pop up in strip malls with various user friendly diagnostic equipment to give the remote Doctor more data to treat more conditions (maybe this already exists)?


I was including the price of the ultrasound imaging machine. And I’m not talking about Tylenol either, which is a harmful and oversubscribed drug anyway. Example: I’ve been given a choice: surgery that includes removal of hip cartilage, or nothing. But there are many natural growth factors that have shown excellent cartilage regeneration. PRP wouldn’t be among my first choices, but as an example, it’s better than nothing, better than surgery, and the FDA can’t make my own blood illegal. The two surgeries I did get elsewhere were terrible and didn’t really solve the problem. There are other cheap options for regenerative injections, and they are extremely common among elite and professional athletes. They are also used extensively by large animal vets, and it turns out that there’s nothing I need that a race horse doesn’t, but it’s legal for him and not for me. Diagnostics also, a huge area for free market expansion. The cost of an MRI is dropping below the cost of a copay. And most of all, it’s a question of value added by doctors, which is mostly informational, and as with all information commodities, rapidly dropping to zero. In my vision of the future, I decide what I want, and I pay for it. Simple.


Maybe see a better doctor. If you’ve self diagnosed and researched a treatment yourself, they should be understanding. However, without high evidence data or guidelines, you could sue them and they woruld have no leg to stand on, so I’m sure there’s a component of defensive medicine.


Robo-medicine! Every upgrade is a fleet upgrade.


I wish I could address everything that's wrong with this comment.

The biggest thing is you seem extremely willing to take risks without understanding the gravity of what you're doing. Sure, you CAN give yourself PRP injections and LIKELY will have little to no side effects. Healthcare providers need extreme confidence that (a) a procedure will be effective (b) the risks are appropriate.


I disagree. Some doctors will attempt new procedures with only a company promoting new tools.

I once saw a surgeon try out new combined cut & staple hardware designed for bowel surgery on a patient's liver, because he had been told it would work. It didn't, and there was a ridiculous amount of staples in the patient's abdomen afterward.

Doctors often become more risk prone the more power they have, and the hierarchy of human medical doctoring contributes to this.


sailor: captain! there's a hole in the ship, if we don't do something quick we'll sink!

captain: there's only one solution ... make the hole so big we can no longer call it a hole.

sailor: aye aye captain, i'll go get the explosives.


PRP was a pretty extreme example, but I used it to prove a point that no matter how crazy it seems to do PRP in an underground or gray-market venue, 1. A lot of people are already doing it, and 2. absent blood contamination risk, the risk, benefit, and cost trade-off is still massively better than the surgery it may prevent. It’s not even close. Even if it’s not proven to be effective by statistical scrutiny, neither are the vast majority of orthopedic surgeries. Seriously, look it up, and be mindful that it is the surgeon himself that determines success in most studies.


Much like the massive opportunity in "DIY Civil Engineering" - those engineers deciding how a bridge should be built don't know that with a couple of two by fours and some selective welding the gray market can give far better outcomes for an order magnitude lower cost


I'm having trouble telling whether this is satirical.


I figured 'selective welding' would give it away


I work in Pharma, we're not worried yet. We've done a few trials of nano-fabs, essentially 3D printed labs where you inject the raw materials and drugs pop out the end.

They kind of work, but its still a lot of work and would mean consumers getting hands on a bunch of controlled substances.

Being able to produce meth in a 'lab' that fits in your hand is not crazy... except you can clearly see how crazy that is.


Ignore the legal aspect of this - if the technology gets good enough and cheap enough people will make their own nano-fabs and damn the laws. People would LOVE to pirate pharmaceuticals. It's an industry just begging for disruption.


A way to synthesize arbitrary chemicals in a printer is worth trillions of dollars. It goes well beyond pharmaceuticals, but for a start, it would drive healthcare costs down to basically free.


I’m not talking about nano-fabs. From a pharma perspective, I’m talking about moleculars that are produced in GMP facilities and sold like any other USP, not for human use. This is admittedly dangerous because the formulations could have contaminants. However, even in FDA-approved pharma, you get things like NDMA being used as a solvent and ending up as millimolar fractions, and the drugs don’t even get pulled for months after discovery by some random independent lab. There are thousands of moleculars that pharma will never push through the FDA because it’s a natural human protein fragment and therefore impossible to patent and profit from.


What a future we would live in, if you were able to create prescriptions at home with FDA-levels of tolerance. I stumbled upon DIY instructions on GitHub once.

In reality, I know someone who works in an environment where pharmaceuticals are manufactured. He can't even lift a ceiling tile (steam fitter) without getting approval.

Maintaining FDA quality-level may not be possible in a DIY-context. These are clean rooms where the manufacturing occurs. High up-front costs.

But it would certainly be incredible for people who pay $1,000 per pill for some life-saving medication today, if they could totally roundabout the pharmaceutical industry.


I would like to see something like tele-medicine that works internationally with local pharmacies. Why should I pay for an insurance plan I don't want to see doctors I can't afford? If I am an English speaker, I should be able to connect with any English-speaking physician in the world via a Skype-like system. And if they prescribe me medications, they should be sent to my pharmacy (and if my insurance or lack thereof makes it too expensive, have the system order the generics from India or Mexico). I think the health industry giants have already seen this coming, but your idea with "doctors, insurers, and the FDA" as arbitrary and overpaid gatekeepers jibed with me.


I think you hit the nail right on the head. Gartner's recent post on technology trends for 2020 points out democratization of tech and business expertise. More domains like medicine and law will follow.

Gartner's Top 10 Trends of 2020: https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-top-10-st...


I love this. If we have an alternate route for healthcare directly marketed to end users, that's a way around the insufferable healthcare monopoly. Healthcare piracy.

The average person who reads the first 10 pages of search results for their disease definitely knows more about it than their doctor. Doctors are smart, but medicine is huge and they aren't polymaths.

The obvious obstacle is that you legally cannot prescribe medicines without a medical license but hey who said the doctor has to physically be present or can't be a desperate Carribean med school graduate.


This got me thinking about ideas for a product that would work internationally vs. just in one country and if that signal means much about the viability of a product.

In terms of work being "promising", wouldn't I want to takle a global problem, not one unique to a specific country?


I see this trend strongest in Asia right now.


One general theme I think is getting more and more apparent is the phenomenon of large systems breaking down.

One of the side effects of globalization and the internet is that it becomes more and more apparent over time when there are opportunities for asymmetric impact. And there will always be bad actors that look to take advantage of that.

This is partly because we as consumers get used to the abuses and start accepting them. Back in the 90s, the onset of email spam was something that caused a lot of indignance and active outrage. Banner ads were a huge deal, too.

But a lot of it is just from the bad actors getting more sophisticated. Including state actors that are invested in causing the breakdown of democratic norms in other countries.

So I think there will continue to be opportunity in the decentralization realm. Tools for various forms of self-governance. That could mean publishing (activitypub), hosting (ipfs), or even actual governance (decision-making and voluntary policy compliance among groups).


A book to greatly add to your perspectives about large complex systems failing: Inviting Disaster

https://www.amazon.com/Inviting-Disaster-Lessons-Edge-Techno...


I listened to Robert Green's talk at Google recently [0]

He proposes the following idea:

    - Everybody born within 22 years of each other belong to a "generation" 

    - Generations follow a cycle:
       - There is a rebellious generation
       - The next generation is trying to keep the ideals of the rebellious generation alive
       - The third generation is very conservative
       - The fourth generation is a "crisis" generation that will eventually lead to a rebellion in the next generation and the cycle continues.

    - Millennials are the crisis generation today
It's a very interesting theory - and provides a new way to think about what comes next. Looking back, the last generation that appears to be a "rebellious" generation were the hippies centered around 1969. I can't think of any giants that started in that era. Instead, that era felt like it produced most of the core technologies that drove big economic changes in the next several decades.

History doesn't really repeat, but it sometimes rhymes with itself. If the next generation is rebellious - and they end up being like the last rebellious generation - we are looking at 22 years of deep technological developments that will lead to the next big things in two generations from now.

Honestly - this is just an interesting way to think about the world but I wouldn't act upon it. If I was forced to place a bet on who (not what) will make it big in the next 25 years, I'd put $5 (and not a cent more) on somebody who is doing a PhD today and will get to work on deep research for a few decades.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcaVhMt71qE


He was probably drawing from the Strauss-Howe generational theory[1], which is more than 20 years old now. He (or you) should have credited the original thinkers for these ideas. Their 1997 book "The Fourth Turning" is considered pseudoscience but nonetheless great food for thought, imho.

Note that the cycle may sometimes be shorter (3 gens) or longer (5). It's not really a theory, more like empirical observation. Unfortunately, it has no predictive power whatsoever, so it's just that, food for thought.

Edit: Interestingly, it came out almost at about the same time as Huttington's "Clash of the Civilizations"[2], and a number of interesting scenarios from Shell[3][4] and the CIA (link?), which notably informed Clinton's push for global democracy — all these studies concurred, at the time, that positive disruption was a plausible scenario.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generatio...

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clash_of_Civilizations

[3]: https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-futur...

[4]: https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-futur...


The idea of cycles in social history is as old as the hills. It's possible your claim that he drew from Strauss-Howe is correct, but while they may have packaged the idea in a distinctive way, it has a long history.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_cycle_theory


Oh indeed! Thanks for the precision, well worth noting.

The particular arrangement of The Fourth Turning is adamantly specific though (and quite famous in sociological circles, iirc it's where our modern concepts of "millenials" or "gen X" etc. come from); it's hard to mistake it for anything else.

I don't doubt for one second that Greene knows it, or that he'd expect a sophisticated audience (such as Googlers) to know it too — the credit is probably very much implied as soon as you present things this way. Like we don't need to credit someone for E=mc² or a²+b²=c² because it's obvious. Green is notoriously awesome at doing synthesis of a bunch of seminal sources, that's his M.O. — more than original thinking imho, but his delivery is often incredibly worthy of interest.

Fwiw, I'd argue it's extremely easy to take pretty much any social dimension(s) and slap some abstract model on top of it with relevance. I've read countless such accounts, and did it myself in regard to cycles in concentration of political power. Strauss-Howe's model is relatively interesting insofar as it draws upon quite long-term history (some variations / extensions go back to ~1200 iirc, though the core theory was fundamentally applied to the American civilization), which gives it weight.

Source: I studied sociology-anthropology-politics.


Thanks I didn't realise the naming originated with them. wrt pseudo science the whole social cycles subject is interesting and sometimes plausible enough to read about even if you take it with a large pinch of salt.


Yes, social cycles are definitely a thing empirically, historically. The learning curve over humanity's civilization is tedious, hard, but we're making progress overall. We have reached a situation where some actors, being super-massive, have enough data and tools to effectively move social behavior —a long movement from 'States' (whatever the name) since immemorial centuries up to big tech in the 21st.

I think the future of social sciences is there, currently tightly secured intellectual property and datasets in the beating core of giant tech. Those who command enough of that elusive 'power' are now capable of shaping humanity to an unprecedented degree.

Like any tool, neither good nor bad but what we make of it...


It's more likely that every generation is all of the above - or more precisely, every generation goes through phases where one or more of those might apply. Every generation will believe that the older generations are stupid and short-sighted, then as that generation gets older it will believe that the younger generations are stupid and short-sighted. Every generation will think the older generations are backwards and the newer generations naïve.

If there's any sort of cycle between generations, it seems like cynicism v. optimism is more likely. I like to think of it as a sort of "day" v. "night":

    1920's: evening / night
    1930's: night / early morning hangover
    1940's: (cycle temporarily pauses while the world blows itself up)
    1950's: morning
    1960's: afternoon
    1970's: evening
    1980's: night
    1990's: morning hangover
    2000's: afternoon
    2010's: evening / night
    2020's: night / morning (predicted)
It's something I can hear in the music from those time periods, though I can't quite quantify it.

Re: "hippies", they seem to be a feature of the Boomer, Gen-X, and Millennial/Gen-Y generations alike; all three have had very similar movements (which makes it all the more poignant that now the Millennial hippies are scolding the very generation from which hippies originated in the first place).

Also, I don't know if I'd characterize Gen-X as "conservative".


i liked the soft pastels, 'cozy' home decor, and simple garb of the 90s.. People are trying to make their houses look like the inside of a friggin iphone box today ~ 'architectural minimalism'.


This looks like it could just be cherry picking. If you look hard enough, you can find someone rebellious, then 20 years later, someone trying to maintain those ideals, and so forth. There's so many people, so many stories out there, you could form any narrative you wanted about theories of generational cycles.


I'll bet it says more about the overlap between fashion and the media than it says about people.

Something comes back 'into style' at intervals and the narrative is hyped up to accentuate that fact. But it probably has more to do with burnout and collective amnesia. We've forgotten how awful "bell bottoms" can be and so here's some "bell bottoms", 20-30 years later.


This sounds like Strauss-Howe generational theory https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss–Howe_generational_theo...


Is this based on any historical data beyond the 20th century? Because the 20th century is not necessarily representative of the "standard" human nature. With all the wars, rapid technological advancements, globalisation, etc., we have created a different environment and different kind of people.


> If the next generation is rebellious - and they end up being like the last rebellious generation - we are looking at 22 years of deep technological developments that will lead to the next big things in two generations from now.

Or quite the opposite. They’ll be anti-tech, like: let’s break up and impose limits to tech companies and research.


> Everybody born within 22 years of each other belong to a "generation"

So everybody belongs to (up to) 44 generations?


I see this rebellious generation as those paving the way for financial revolution with permissionless and trustless blockchain technologies. They are ignoring suppressive regulation and moving forward building the world they want to see.


I see idealists making all the mistakes that led to the monetary system we have now. They may end up in a different place, but they'll make lots of mistakes and it'll blow up in their faces many times before they're done.


Can you point out some of these mistakes? Also, traditional finance has had it's share of blowing up in their faces. The difference with DeFi is that economies are being being build on an economic model rather than an economic model being built on an economy.


Sure - multiple robberies of exchanges. Every-increasing transaction times. Ponzi-style valuations. Pretty much everything bitcoin.


Millenials are the first generation to realize that they will be around for the climate crisis. In the circle of people I know, it’s a huge motivator to learn and hopefully do something about.


Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: