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Ask HN: What would you spend your time working on if you didn't need money?
176 points by gooob 58 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 299 comments
basically what would your ideal job be, in an ideal world? would you contribute towards making society more rational, healthy, and well-coordinated? or do you have better ideas? sorry if this is a silly question just a random thought.



I would devote my time to building high quality, durable, and energy efficient 3bd 2ba homes in the rural areas surrounding major metropolitan areas, which I would then sell at material cost.

Buying my first home (mobile/manufactured) has been a combination of the best and worst thing I've ever done. The house cost nearly 3 times what my grandparents paid about ~30 years ago in the same neighborhood (on the same street!) while the construction and finish quality are sub-par at best, with a nearly endless list of things that are constantly in need of repair, multiple water intrusion issues, etc. To make matters worse, the housing market in the area I live has reached unreasonable levels, with my current home being 'valued' at 1.4x what I bought it for roughly 3 years ago.

Additionally, I keep seeing homes built that are on monolithic slabs and nearly everyone I know personally who is a homeowner is having issues with their home's foundation due to the high movement soil (clay) even in recently built homes. I would build homes that use pier and beam foundations with piles deep enough to resist soil movement, ensure site drainage was appropriate for each home, and generally put all the necessary care and work into ensuring that each home built would last for multiple generations.

I want to build homes that last and allow others to flourish without the litany of concerns I currently have to struggle with on-top of my day job.


Good answer! It's a massive societal failure that so few people are able to own a good house these days. It's 2024, we can build microchips virtually atom-by-atom, we can have plain English conversations with our computers about almost any topic, the number of billionaires has grown 20-fold since the 1980's, but the basic human need for shelter is a problem that is getting less solved by the day. It's perverse.


I completely agree. The incentives have aligned against the average home buyer receiving a good home, at multiple levels. Between the fundamental change in how homes are financed allowing for other market conditions to exaggerate the cost of homes and the decline of skilled labor interest / accessibility to young people such as myself... we have a state of affairs that makes a basic thing such as home ownership a significant problem for future generations.


Ive actually did some market research into this. Turnkey container houses, built out on trailers (with enough facade to make it look good, but since its not a permanent dwelling you don't have to pay property tax on it).

The big issue that I found is that people aren't actually interested in cheap houses, they just want something that is affordable at a discount but will grow in value, just like their parents did.


There is a lot of nuances to the issues I want to address, but you seem to be mistaking my fundamental goals. I don't want to "change" the housing market, or even build cheap houses.

If the market says the cheapest house in a market is $250k then that is my budget ceiling for equipment and materials, while all labor is provided by myself and any like-minded individuals in a similarly absurd situation. The 'difference' I would be making is the invisible-to-the-market value created by putting the cost of labor and any expected profits back into making the home a standing testament to human engineering.

There would be no marketing, no sales pitches, no brand or company associated with the construction of these homes. Simply going from place to place doing my best to make an insignificant difference at a societal scale and a silent but substantial difference to the families who eventually occupy those homes both now and in a hundred years.


I am actually looking for such a solution. Would you care to share some of the players in this market?


Not the person you replied to, but given the logistics and local nature of relevant laws in construction there most likely isn't going to be a "recognized brand" that will give you a fair and reasonable price for anything except a traditional manufactured home that is governed under HUD manufactured housing program. (https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/rmra/mhs)

Your best bet is to either find a company near you that specializes in tiny-homes and ask for a quote on a custom home that is built on a trailer (that you or the company sources) or simply buy an RV / Camper.

At the end of the day though if you're looking for something that is 'ultra affordable' then you will want to build it yourself. For that scenario I can point you at a number of resources that would help you along that path, just email or text me using the contact info in my profile.


Thank you.


Uncharted Tiny Homes is the only one that builds small homes, but I was looking into tapping some college resources (they have competitions on sustainable container houses) and some talent there in terms of what it takes to build one out.

You can get shipping containers pretty cheap, and the trailer doesn't even have to have wheels for it to be considered not a permanent residence.

The short of building out a house is basically you cut holes in the container for all the inteface to the outside world, do insulation on the inside, facade on the outside, run all wire/plumbing stuff in cut channels in the insulation, then build out the walls and furniture from treated wood. A lot of the existing RV stuff (shower, retractable beds, e.t.c) can be reused.


Thank you!


I've gotten into a habit of watching homebuilders on YouTube/reading about construction methods (especially with ICF forms), and it's been quite fun. Lots of advancements happening these days.

As for foundation issues, I live in a Gulf Coast state 2 miles from the Gulf as the crow flies, and my crawlspace is so humid that I had to get it encapsulated. I have 2 dehumidifiers, and now that summer is here 1 of them runs 24/7. On the flip side, the deterioration has stopped, but now the joists and subloor are drying and warping (I was warned this would happen, though).


This probably edges into the industrial-control level of automation, but have you thought about hooking up your dehumidifiers to humidity sensors to maintain humidity at a specific level rather than an all-or-nothing approach?

It's my understanding that wood rot occurs mainly due to frequent changes in moisture, the expansion and contraction causing breakdown of the wood fibers, while warping occurs when wood transitions between 'wet' and 'dry' too slowly/quickly/unevenly.

Allowing the moisture to increase back to previous levels *may* reverse some or most of the warping that has occurred, followed with a gradual decrease in humidity with an adjustment period between changes using the aforementioned control system may allow you to find a happy medium and ease the wood into a more stable moisture content without having to deal with squeaky subfloors and uneven joists.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


>have you thought about hooking up your dehumidifiers to humidity sensors to maintain humidity at a specific level rather than an all-or-nothing approach?

They have a knob on them that sets it to a specific humidity level, which I believe is 55 or 60 percent.

>Allowing the moisture to increase back to previous levels may reverse some or most of the warping that has occurred

Warping has already occurred on the joists due to the ridiculous levels of humidity in the crawl space, this is just more warping occurring. I'm talking like 90% or more humidity down there, and the moisture content of the joists were at 21% and mold was growing all over. At this point, I'm willing to take warping over the other path, which is having my joists rot out. Encapsulation is part 1, and part 2 will happen next year in the winter where I'll get beams and jacks installed.


Where do you live? The county or city should have codes for the foundation construction. If those are not sufficient I’d start there.


The codes are simply not sufficient. The codes simply dictate the minimum required to prevent significant loss of human life and property, but just as there is a vast gulf between "people dying and houses collapsing" and Things Are Up To Code™ there is too a vast gradient between the latter and Things Just Work™

When I first bought my house I tried to put in a warranty claim due to *MAJOR* deflection of subfloor in the kitchen and suspected water damage related to the installation of some plumbing. They refused to do anything unless I got the state involved; Literally they gave me the contact number for the state department responsible for ensuring everything was Good Enough™

Months later, nothing was fixed because according to the State as long as I can't stick my foot through a hole in the ground and get hurt there is nothing wrong. Never mind the fact that there is a slow water leak and the subfloor and joists are undergoing structural deterioration before I even moved in.

Had I known the headache this would cause, and known I could have taken other legal recourse I would have lawyered up at this point, but I was a young 24 year old with a 2 year old and another child on the way. I didn't know what to expect, I trusted the State, I trusted the builder, I trusted the realtors who all told me it was Ok™.

Up to code means it's safe to inhabit, not that you'd *want* to inhabit.


On nicer homes builders will sometimes put cylinders of concrete down from the slab towards bedrock. Then they pour the slab over top of them. I assume this helps prevent the movement. Not sure how this compares to p&b in cost. Just another option.


Well most slab foundations will have various types of footings that transfer the majority of the load to deeper soil that can support significantly higher PSF.

The slab part of the foundation generally is meant only to transfer the load of the house onto these footings rather than support the weight itself, sort of like a desk transfers the weight of it's contents onto the legs.

While this can help resist movement, it all depends on the drainage and expansion qualities of the soil where the bottom of the footer rests. If the area sees periods of extreme drought in highly expansive soil and the drought 'reaches' the bottom of the footer then you'll end up with significant movement as the weight of the foundation and home settles down into the void created by the now dry soil, while the opposite is true during periods of extremely heavy rainfall.

When you combine periods of extreme drought and heavy rainfall in close succession of each other on highly expansive soils, pretty much any slab that is not supported by bedrock in some way will be at risk of cracking due to the frequent seasonal movement of the surrounding soil.

This can be mitigated somewhat during periods of drought by 'watering' the areas surrounding the foundation, and during periods of heavy rainfall by having a properly graded home site that routes water away from the home in every direction. Unfortunately these are mitigations that require monitoring by homeowners who may not be aware of these issues at all.

Ideally prior to building any permanent foundation a core sample would be obtained from the site and analyzed to determine the footer depth necessary to compensate for the 'worst case' rainfall and temperature fluctuation in that region, additionally accounting for local movement due to topography.

Except most folks building out in my area are just trying to make as much money with as little investment as possible, and thus do just enough to not be liable if any of the above scenarios conspire to create problems for their long-since-forgotten customers.


I am reading this and I hope you find ways to engage in building homes! I sense true care and from true care arise true actions and the great satisfaction of doing a job right.

I want more homes in the world built by people like you.


Thank you! My near-term goals are to build a new home for myself and then re-purpose as much of the raw materials that make up my current manufactured home to build 'tiny homes' for each of my two children (young) on the 2 acres I currently live.

After that, who knows what life will throw my way :)


This is me. Fortunate to be able to retire at 55, programming my whole life, I love my career even when particular jobs had their issues. So now I work on projects I want to work on, no commute, no 20-person meetings.

I'm currently working with a team that's recreating the Prodigy online service servers in Elixir. Having a blast, and I have my next project already in mind, also in Elixir or some other BEAM language.

On top of that I'm reading programming-adjacent books and papers, for example on Category Theory and lambda calculus. I'm going through my backlog of interesting papers I've printed off over the last 30 years.

So no, not saving the world but keeping my mind engaged and loving it.


Now pushing 70 and retired for 4+ years, I don't seem to have any difficulties learning new or difficult things. There's some irritation at not remembering some of the prerequisites to certain topics that you once knew well, e.g., all the old trig identities. But after 50 or so years, that those memories are somewhat degraded is hardly a surprise. As others have noted, they're still in there, you just have to coach them out and polish the pathways. I seem to have more pursuits now than I actually have time for. Right now, I'm working through a calculus/diffeq refresher to prepare to go down the physics/electronics rabbit hole. I've spent some time playing around with Arduino and while it's fun and you can build a lot of things, it's mostly about what. And what and how were the dominate memes from my working life. Now I want to know the why behind the how on many subjects. And the math that has decayed over the ensuing decades is thus essential. For me, retirement has been like a new beginning. Live like you'll live forever. You won't, of course, but it sure as hell beats the "Waiting around to die" mindset.


I would love to have time to study those topics. However when I have spare time and I could devote a whole day to study, I realize my attention span does not make it.

So to anyone reading this, my advice is not to wait for retirement. I am lucky enough that my kids now prepare and go to school alone. So every morning I have about 45min when I can say fuck to the outside world including work and pursue studies I am interested in. I can't study any difficult or new subject after work.

Progress is slow but real.

Thanks for the advice for note taking. This is something I really have to improve.


Sounds amazing! Have you heard of/checked out Gleam which compiles to Erlang/JS?

Asking because if I was in your shoes, I'd spend all my time to invest in that ecosystem. I got a taste of it in my 3 month semester break where I was able to work on a lot of Gleam and Rust side projects. (Nothing to actually publish, but purely for fun and my own enjoyment).


I’m sticking with Elixir for now. I fancy myself a Lisp/Smalltalk style hacker&painter and like dynamic typing and macros, my current project uses Elixir and I’ve invested too much time & book money in Elixir.


That makes sense! I think it's a good idea to choose something and stick to it :) (especially if it's for fun)

The older I get the more I learn this lesson hehe.


Thanks for sharing. I really look up to people like you as I'd like to semi-retire around 55 too (13 years from now on).

I have a question for you: How do you assess your learning ability at 55? Let me explain -- I'd like to pursue studies in some Physics topics when I semi-retire (I can't do that now due to lack of time), but I'm not sure whether my brain is up to the job then. I know you are not studying Physics, but category theory is definitely non-trivial. How do you assess your ability to grapple with difficult theories?

A side question: do you exercise routinely, and if so do you think it contributes significantly to your health?

Thanks for any insight.


My wife and I are 57 years old, so I think I can address this. We finally got the younger child through to grad school and paid off all our debt, and now we can devote our time to what we want to do. Mostly, anyway - I'd like to be doing coding for pay, but instead I do technical translation.

But in terms of study - academic work - we're free. She's got a PhD in theoretical physics and has finally had the time to start publishing, including picking up quantum chromodynamics.

I've picked up my original doctoral work, too, which was on hold for thirty years while I supported the family. I've had no problems whatsoever tackling difficult topics - in fact, I've had less difficulty. I'm calmer, partly because I have to be in order to keep my blood pressure under control. I think I can do less in any given day, but I'm not even sure about that, because when I look back at items checked off over a week or a month, it's about what I wanted to get done.

So putting off study until you're 55 is not a bad plan. Keep reading about things in the meantime, of course. Take good notes. Keep things where you can find them in ten or twenty years. Write down your daily thoughts. You'll thank yourself later, trust me on this.


Love this! I’ve been mostly doing my hobbies as work for 20 years, but I’ve been having a blast getting back to deep pure math and PL research in the last 6-12 months which absolutely topped everything. It’s fully targeted towards my business goals which is ideal for me as I need a concrete problem to solve when learning. I’m 40 and this has been intellectually more productive than anything else I’ve done (feels like x times more than what I remember). It’s exciting and inspiring to see others doing it later in life as I wish I could keep doing it too.


Thanks a lot. I really appreciate your sharings. I'm glad that both of you manage to work on things you are interested in.

Did your wife get the PHD recently or when she was young? Reading through the lines I feel it was when she was young but I could definitely be wrong.

I also feel I don't have much to write down every day. Most of the time is spent on work chores or family chores. There are a few happy moments but that's it. May I ask what type of information do you retain?


She got her PhD in 1999, shortly after the birth of the kid who just finished his first year of grad school.

Sure, you're working, I totally get that. But you're also sometimes reading about stuff relevant to your eventual academic interests, if only articles you see on HNN or whatever. Sometimes you'll have a thought in the car. Develop the habit of journaling them when they come, in some place you won't lose over the intervening years.

You will be astonished at what you both do and don't retain over those years. It's mostly still down in there somewhere, but if you've got a few clues to unravel the threads, it'll help more than you think now.


Thanks for the tip. I'm thinking maybe I should at least register for a few pre-requisite courses and see what happens. I did have a Math Master degree but I forgot pretty much everything except SV Calculus and basic Matrix computation. Or I could just use Coursera to advance my learning -- for hell, the topics I'm interested in, e.g. General Relativity, do not need experiments so I might not even need a degree.

Regarding the last paragraph -- yeah I recalled that my first programming adventure was Foxbasing in the mid 90s. I definitely forgot all of those!

Good luck to you too.


> Write down your daily thoughts.

Can you elaborate on this? What sorts of daily thoughts did you write down and how did it help you?


I keep a notebook of ideas I want to pursue later. A lot of times if you don't write them down they'll be forgotten over the years, unless they're of major importance.


Over enough years, they will be forgotten, just like the names of the people you went to school with, unless you've got a way to rehearse them.


So a million years ago (the mid-90's), I was working with Doug Hofstadter and I had some ideas I wanted to follow up. Over the intervening years of raising a family, none of which do I regret, I never had the opportunity to actually do that - but I've done a lot of pieces of it, sometimes forgetting exactly where it fit into that original big picture.

Unfortunately, a lot of those pieces were logged on paper, but I've got electronic notes from about 2011 on, and a good content index has come in really handy for pulling out earlier ideas on various topics.

I've been working on that for the past year, and also scanning in a lot of the paper notes and starting to transcribe some of them. Looking back, there are some ideas I have every five or ten years, every time thinking I'm quite innovative.

Now that I've had the time to collate all that (and to read an absolute metric ton of literature I missed, an ongoing process), I've started to make consistent progress towards my original goals.

But just as a for instance - I have my readings and research bibliography from 1995 in machine translation. Most of that is dead as Carthage from a technical standpoint, obviously, but the philosophy has been invaluable as a starting point for recalibrating where I'm going.

But I've also got a lot of notes on related projects and just noodling thoughts I've had over thirty years of driving kids around in cars. I think the most important aspect of this is just keeping your mind active and focused on the things you find interesting, even if you don't have anything like the time you'd need to pursue them properly. Because sooner or later, the stars will align and you will. And when you do, your notes will be absolutely vital.

But I'm kind of obsessive about notes, so your mileage may vary.


I’m envious, reading EGB in the ‘70s is what put me on the path of computer science. I may yet try copycat or other creative analogy project in Elixir. I have the time, I’m retired :)


For the most part I'm staying near my field of study, programming, programming languages, theory about programming etc. In that way, just about everything I see I can relate to something I've learned before, I'm in true "I've seen it all before" mode at my age. For example the pattern matching and recursion-based "looping" navigation is just like when I went through my Haskell/Ocaml/Common Lisp/Scheme phase in the mid 2000's, so it was easy to pick up. The only new part of it is the actor-based concurrency model.

My foray into Category Theory so far has been reading "The Joy of Abstraction", which is a layman's book to CT. So far what's she's written makes perfect sense and would be mostly obvious to anyone who hangs out on HN. Moving up and down various levels of abstraction, the idea of "functions", as I read this I'm basically thinking it's what I've been doing for the past 40 years, not a big deal. We'll see as I continue in it.

Circling back to the original question, it's hard to assess my learning ability since I'm not venturing out into totally new territory for me.

When you have a job it's hard to fit in as much exercise etc. as you want, it's easier when you're retired. But also when you're retired it's easy to fill the time with other things, errands, as you get older medical appointments, and motivation is a little harder since you don't have deadlines on your projects. Work comes in spurts interlaced with reading, which is important but doesn't move the projects forward.

I do exercise regularly, especially after the heart attack. "Make these changes or you'll die" makes a great motivator.


Thanks a lot. I do agree that staying in familiar ground requires less brain work.

I do agree with the "more time without a job" observation. That's part of the motivation to pick up serious stuffs when I go semi-retire.

I hope you get well (the heart attack thing), but I'm happy that you make those changes when still young (relatively).


Out of curiosity, what was the trigger for the heart attack? I see you enjoyed your work, so I wonder if the stresses were beyond that? Or was it a diet/lifestyle issue?


I’ll chime in on this - my wife and I were just talking about it yesterday.

I’m mid 50’s. I had perfect 20/20 eye sight until about age 50, and now I can’t read almost anything without reading glasses - it came on quickly, but doesn’t seem to be worsening. I’ve always been a perfect speller (for the vocabulary that I use), but I’m finding I misspell 1-3% of what I type now (not typos). I’m also starting to misread headlines which I never did before (inserting words, misreading a single critical word, etc). It does feel like a tiny bit of haze is setting in, and I feel like this is probably normal.


Tell us how you retired.


I guess I'll find out on Friday, which is my last day. Poking around on computers has been good enough to me that I can call it quits at 60. What comes after this? First, a summer of being a bum (if I last that long). After that, more volunteering at the animal shelter, more volunteering with the local running club, and I half-jokingly say I'm going to be a professional trail runner (where I'll be paid in socks and cheap medals from my age group wins).

I'll buckle down on my mandolin playing, and it's time to pick up the fiddle and give it a good effort.

Read more.

Let's not let all that coding experience go to waste: I'll go hunt down an open source project that I could make some good contributions to, and then devote a good chunk of time to that. Or write something new that the world could use.

But beware: "if you didn't need money" is a pretty loaded phrase. As I stare down the firehose of money and realize it will soon produce only a trickle, if that, I still ask if we have enough even though we're probably better off than the majority of retirees (if various sources are to be believed). Because there's "don't need an income" and then there's "won the startup lottery, and my kids won't need an income", and we are firmly in the former category. :-)


Im in a similar boat but about 18 months further down the line than you. I figure that even if I choose (or have) to earn something I can do something I love doing for less or something I’m good at for less time. I’ve done the summmer bum thing I plan to do it every year by driving down to the alps in a van conversion and running the trails. I recommend it. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the things you want to do with your time but it’s a ton of fun project managing them.


It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the things you want to do with your time but it’s a ton of fun project managing them.

Well, it beats being one of those retirees that goes back to work because they're bored. :-) Thanks for the reply and the encouragement, and if you get to Washington in the U. S., email is in the profile and we'll go run some WA trails in the Cascades.


Sounds like a great idea


> I guess I'll find out on Friday, which is my last day.

Congrats on today being your last day!


Thanks! Kinda weird walking out that door and knowing that when it closes, I’m not getting back in. :-)


I haven't worked in a decade, and my predictions about what I'd do were... bad.

I am not volunteering, or consulting for non-profits. It fulfilling or interesting, possibly because I wasn't invested in the cause(s).

I am not reading as much as I thought. It is lonely and boring to read for more than half a day, day after day.

I am not doubling down on family, as they are busy doing their own things.

I am not traveling constantly, because it is lonely traveling by myself (again, family is busy).

What am I doing?

I'm studying neuroscience at a local university (after working through chem/bio prerequisites). I had zero interest before, now it is all I care about. Surprise!

I spend a lot of time walking through town, aimlessly. No idea why.

I average 1.5 grocery stores every day, and cook needlessly elaborate meals for my family. Again, brand new interest.


I am quite surprized how few people are proposing to make art or music. Is this why artists/musicians can't make money, because so few people enjoy it? I always thought it was the digitization and easy access that allowed us to enjoy these things from our homes (instead of going out to clubs), but maybe not.

Anyway, for the record, I would be recording my lifetime backlog songs I've written. And probably re-recording in different styles. And perfecting every one, no more of this 'good-enough' demo stuff. I'd get all the needed gear and software, and have no more excuses. I've actually already started to do this, at the detriment of my actual career...sigh.

EDIT: now that I read the OP's question more closely, I guess the answers are skewed towards practical things that would make the world better...but impractical things like creative music and abstract art also make the world better, so I'm sticking with my plan!


I'm with you. To quote Todd Rundgren: I don't want to work, I just want to bang on the drum all day


> impractical things like creative music and abstract art also make the world better

If you expand your definition of practical, it becomes quite practical!


Someone needs to spark your interest in music or art creation, rather than simple consumption. It used to be that we expected everyone of a certain class to know how to play a piano, or paint a scene, or whatever. I’m in my late 30s and went to a MASSIVE school, and I never even saw an opportunity to learn how to make music. At least art is a bit more universal.


Because doing it is hard to master, harder to execute, and way harder to be economically succesful at it.


So are a lot of things hard to master but execution is easy for most musical instruments. Just go and hire or buy one. I think this post is the opposite of being economically successful at things


Great, try it some day.


i didn't intend for the answers to be skewed a certain way. that's just what i had in mind. and i do think that music makes the world a better place anyway. but if you wanted to just go around and drink beer at various bars that'd be fine too. (btw i just came back to this post after forgetting about after posting it this morning and wow didn't expect this many responses!)


I'd become a vocalist for a death metal band


I haven’t tried art yet so I might like it but I have a few musical instruments to learn on my list but they’re nowhere near the top.


General infrastructure that benefits humanity in a goal agnostic way, e.g., related to energy or compute seems like a meaningful thing to get behind. This could be novel technology or logistics and efficiency improvements, but these are things that can augment everyone's ability to do the things they want.

Socially, there are a lot of things that seem "silly" (euphemistically), and it's a blight on civilization that they are tolerated. That people in my country (USA, but can apply to many countries in the world) are homeless or starving is silly; if you were running a country, ensuring the citizenry have food and shelter might be an obvious top priority. The world can seem really complex at times and our systems become so convoluted that people rationalize why the things that seem obviously silly are too difficult to solve or worthwhile tradeoffs. I think it's generally a good heuristic to avoid doing things that seem obviously silly and fix the things that are (that is, it's often better to be naive about it!).

This portion of the comment is not a direct answer to the question but a related thought others may have further insights about. Practically, a situation in which you don't need money rarely materializes instantaneously; it usually arises from circumstances that have constituted a great deal of your life and identity. As a consequence of this, I think ego can become a real challenge that prevents people from pursuing possible "ideals". If you've been in a certain kind of position for a long time, there can be psychological barriers to pursuing something in a way in which, e.g., you are a true beginner or have less control. This tends to be something that can dissipate with age but can be especially difficult for people who've achieved financial success well before standard retirement age.


You’re absolute right in some respects on your last point. You need to seize the day. So many people delay retirement too long for fear of not being financially protected to age they probably won’t last to, meanwhile their physical and mental capacity are typically deteriorating.


I don't think the US's strategic goal is to solve homelessness. In that between maintaining world dominance and solving homelessness, homelessness is way less important. Nations choose their sacrifices based on their priorities same as individuals.


Let’s assume that world dominance is the root priority. Your statement implies that solving homelessness wouldn’t be in service of world domination. That might be true, but there’s clearly a minimum effort here: an entirely homeless and starving population would disrupt production, military, research, global economic power in a way that would be detrimental to the goal of world domination. Further, if the population gets too unhappy, revolts will occur that would hinder world domination efforts of those currently in power. So where’s the inflection point and why? To say the inflection point is the status quo feels intuitively wrong since what are the odds we happen to be in the optimal place with respect to homelessness, food insecurity, and civilian unrest? I tend to believe that it’s likely further investment into the population will produce a citizenry base that would aid in sustained world domination efforts. If you let the citizenry fall behind or become too unhappy, you’ll be overtaken by other countries. Curious what you see as the opportunity cost of that investment.


(Largely, but almost certainly not completely) solving homelessness would also require solving a massive amount of mental health issues. But I still think that fits your argument (one I happen to agree with). If you want your country to be stronger and more productive it seems like basic common sense to (attempt to) solve hunger, education, health, etc. issues, so your citizenry is more prosperous and productive. I can't think of any way in which the 'rising tide lifts all ships' doesn't at least somewhat benefit most citizens of a country, including those already in power.

But of course that requires a significant level of investment, which is generally the limiting factor, as people who build fortunes are generally disinclined to part with any portion of them. Even for those so inclined, it is hard to get people to agree on what the 'greater good' really is, much more so these days when vast amounts of information is thrown at us often seemingly only in service of dividing us.


I would just create software. I love coding little programs that make life easier. It gives me joy of creation. In fact that's what I have been doing, in last few months I have created (1)a video GPS viewer, (2)Windows based authenticator and an (3)online clipboard. After my day job and on weekends, this is how I like to spend my time. I have stopped trying to create the next killer app. I am just going to create whatever I feel like creating. Links to my latest creations (1) https://yash.info/camgeoplayer/ (2) https://authwin.com/ (3) https://klipit.in/


Subsistence programmer. I only code stuff I need/want: - scripts to help track investments - scripts to manage list of movies/TV shows (get ratings, actors, synopsis). - scripts to manage my computers - database to track my research interests


that's the way to do it man. i have a handful a small little personal softwares that i've made for myself


Maybe a better question for me would be what I would stop spending time working on. I'd continue doing what I currently do, but I'd cut out some of the things that come with the job that no sane person would do other than for the pay. For instance, I would still be doing research, which I view as very important, but I'd do more research and wouldn't mess around with the peer review process. I'd be writing open source software that would help others do their research too. I'd write textbooks and give them away for free. I wouldn't be doing administrative work of any kind, and I wouldn't waste time on a lot of the stuff I do at home.


I'd spend my days painting miniatures and reading. Don't really care enough about the rest of the world, to be honest; I'd turn inward.


And those books you're reading. They came from where?


From my collection of Soviet-era Russian fiction I've accrued over the decades. One of these days I'll get to reading it instead of dusting it off every few months.


Family first, of course. I already dedicate a ton of my time to them - everything from just basic "hanging out" with my wife and kids, to all the basic maintenance of life - budgeting, housework, driving people around, scheduling appointments, and so on.

With my day job gone, I have a huge stack of side projects and hobbies that I'd love to put more time into. I think the hardest part, in a world where I've regained the time I spend on my job, would be deciding which of those things I actually want to dedicate my time to (there isn't enough time in my life for all of them, sadly).

I'd definitely spend more time on fitness, reading, and playing and listening to music. I have plenty of programming related projects I'd like to work on too. I like making videos and writing blog posts, and I'd continue doing that - probably at about the same rate that I currently do, creating a writeup or a video when I find something cool to share.

Honestly, I'd spend my time about the same way I do now - just "more so." I guess I'm fortunate to be able to say that!


I disagree with putting family first. Health is top of the list for me. Money is next. They are the enablers of time. Then family is a consideration.


If you have a family (i.e. a significant other and children, I don't mean your extended family) then my opinion is that it is a moral responsibility to put them first.


I spent 15 amazing years as a firefighter, but the cost of living along with other factors forced me to switch gears and become a software developer. I've learned a lot, but every day I miss the fire service more than anything.

Working on legal software as an underpaid, overworked, and abused (not joking) dev has been a real drag and it's taken a toll on me mentally and physically.

I've also realized that firefighting is my true calling. So I've been trying to turn things around; Working out, finding classes to re-up my certs, and giving myself a lot of mental space.

I'd love to go back, my local station is mostly volunteer so I'd never make much money. But maybe I can use my new tech skills to create tools that help firefighters help people as a little side gig.


robot firefighters? i'm sure some companies, like boston dynamics, are working on that


I stopped work at 55 after 40 years in tech, from being a developer right up to CTO. I do very little coding, mainly because there are so many other things I want to do. Having this time really makes you ask yourself what it is you really want to do and for me that means running, particularly in mountains. Like another poster I also watch a ton of stuff on YouTube about DIY and I’m learning how to do stuff on my own house and doing a van conversion (to take to the mountains). I see a lot more of family than I did and I consciously try to spend more time with and in particular give my time to help others. I’m helping my daughter a lot to break into software engineering. Like another poster I have so many things I want to do and just not enough time so I’m journaling a lot and making a lot of notes about ideas I have and these are starting to lead to some ideas about software that would be useful to me and so I expect others. I’m constantly learning what I like to do and I have so many non technical projects on the go.


I’d do absolutely nothing. I’d sit on a beach or in a pool/hot tub drinking beer and wine while reading or watching tv. I’d walk enough so that I don’t look like the future people from Wall-E. I’d make sure to do absolutely nothing productive though.


I would raise the bar on reading levels and open the world of books for every child that can visit the library.

The public library is free for everybody, but we aren't lining up to read the books because our system is broken. Ninety-five percent of kids can't access audiobook versions of the books they want to read.

We do have CD audiobooks for many classic titles, but these aren't always available, and many people don't have CD players or find it inconvenient to use one. Modern libraries are phasing these out. Another option is Vox books, but they are seriously limited, available in less than 0.01% of books, and cumbersome to carry around. The tiny speaker, among other issues, makes it impractical. There is a screen-time version of audiobooks called OverDrive, but its selection is slim, and these versions don't have embedded page signals—a deal-breaker for early readers and semi-literate children.

What we need now is a way to scan a book cover and instantly start playing the audiobook version, complete with page signals and a slew of other options to enhance engagement. It is widely known that active reading is magnitudes better than passive reading when it comes to developing our memory, thereby fostering better learning. What does this mean? When we read out loud, at the end of the page or book, we ask the users a few questions to check if they've understood what they just read.

This would be a non-profit organization. Contributing to society starts with literacy. Literacy begins with engagement and accessibility. This is my contribution to making a society more rational, health, and well-coordinated.

UPDATE: We have applied to the Amazon Small Business Grant, and this vision is soon to become a reality! interested in joining our mission, or following along? we need readers! we need testers! join us on discord!

https://bit.ly/join-ichatbook-discord


I’d love to help universal basic education become true.

There are some people who are extremely qualified and specialized in their fields, but many more would really benefit from additional formal education. Even tech literacy is taken for granted sometimes, even though it shouldn’t. It’s the kind of thing that makes an actual difference in the lives of people.


hell yeah i agree with that


In an ideal world I would go back to chemistry.

Since the option in the world we have is working 60 hours sub minimum wage trying to get through a PhD followed by bouncing round on 2 year short term contracts as a postdoc (still barely on minimum wage) while University administrators make your life hell I took the only rational route.

I switched to software and make people's lives and the climate worse for a paycheck that still isn't enough to live where I want to live.

But ideally I'd use my brain to research some of the fundamental challenges we face, battery chemistry, plastic recycling, industrial catalysts, etc, etc.


have you heard of precious plastics?


I hadn't, that's super interesting thanks for the pointer.


I don't think there is really one answer to this. I'd be surprised if people's hobbies and interests are really this stable across a lifetime. If you'd have asked me five years ago, all my hobbies were very close to my actual job and I'd have been building compute labs and writing infrastructure orchestration software for fun. Ten years ago, I was more into amateur data analytics and I'd have at least wanted to try setting up my own BCS computer ranking for NCAA football. 20 years ago, it would have been photography and travel writing. Right now, I'd be all-in on personal athletics, trying to continue lifting and rehab my old fledgling habits of climbing and swimming, but mostly doubling down on running since it's what I'm best at and it consumes a lot of time anyway. I'd also love to get involved in big cat rescue, but with the success pumas are already having in the Americas, the need is probably mostly in Eurasia and Africa and I don't think I'd want to leave the only continent I've ever called home. Family still matters. I'd move closer to them, not farther.

Given all this history, I'm definitely not going to pretend I have any idea what I'm going to want to do when I actually retire. I'm also not alone. What I really end up doing is contingent on not disupting whatever my wife wants to do.


A few days back "Where are the builders?" was asked and I was going to chime in there but then today this comes up which correlates, good timing. I too was a Nintendo and Lego kid that took it to extremes, I still play with Legos today as they are great for mock ideas and concepts.

My lifestyle and past choices now afford me all my time as I made great sacrifices for many years saving prolifically while others accrued more and more debt chasing the Jones. Apparently this is called FIRE now but I was doing it long before the acronym.

I have been a problem solver my entire life and have both reverse engineered many things but more importantly I have built a vast variety of personal and professional solutions using mechanics, electronics, technology, automation, and more. I am now building and patenting an energy storage device of my own design given the problem that I personally have which one can likely deduce. I am in absolutely no hurry as all my time is mine to invest where I see fit and as such I am my own boss with ONLY the goal of solving my problem.

For those with the entrepreneurial mindset, exactly like my own, I’ll answer your implicit question from the above reading: "Yes". Once I have my device functioning and it performs as I designed it to the satisfaction of my requirements then a business opportunity unfolds. Given my past choices I am referred to professionally as a serial entrepreneur so I may as well apply my time to my interests and keep solving problems. The difference now however is that I have zero anxiety in my pursuit of my problem since the goal is the objective, not money.

Stay Healthy!


I feel like my answer should be something reliable like "educating the next generation", but instead I think what I'd actually do is some kind of "shoot for the moon" / "hail mary" ultra ambitious project (hopefully with a bunch of similarly motivated and smart people).


Check out the book From Strength To Strength by Arthur Brooks. It’s a bit of a mid-life crisis book that addresses this. In short: develop hobbies, invest in friends/community, explore spiritually.


Fortunately, I have reached that stage.

OTOH, still figuring out what to do next.

I keep reminding myself of what PG had to say: By compressing the dull but necessary task of making a living into the smallest possible time, you show respect for life, and there is something grand about that.


I’m figuring it out and I fully expect that to always be true. One thing I tried to do was be as honest with myself as possible about what was important to me. I concluded that being fit and healthy and maintaining financial independence were the most important because they are the enablers for everything else but they need balancing between each other. A lot of people work too long for more money and find themselves in a position where they are less capable mentally or physically. And some people sacrifice their health for money. You can have all the money in the world but it’s much less use to you if you’re unhealthily and unfit. After that are the things that take advantage of you health and the time financial freedom gives you. Spend more time with the people you love, particular those who are closer to not being here. Do things for other, help people out, not just financially. Carpe diem, do things while you can. Go and climb that mountain. Make the places you live beautiful places to be. Travel. Make the most of your time through being highly productive. They are the tenets I follow. Then I have a million things I want to do. I use Obsidian to record these things and what I need to do to make them happen then organise those things to create schedules for each day. So I know each day what I need to do to make progress towards the things I really want to do.


Figuring it out is so much fun.


:-), it's a good problem to have. If you have figured it out, it would be genuinely useful to hear how you did so? Thanks.


Trying to improve the drop in sex & reproduction. Or make Japanese style game shows in the US.


I’m stuck here picturing these two efforts combined.


Woodworking/Carpentry. As much as I like writing code and working in Product, it'd be nice to work on something tangible. It's so much easier to give someone a physical product that (for the most part) is 'done' when it's handed over, and there's also the knowledge base that remains mostly intact and isn't continuously iterated like it does in programming.


This is one of the things I’m doing. I’ve always been useless with my hands but it’s a whole lot of fun gradually learning even the most basic of things. I have a house to renovate but no time limit and gradually learning one little skill makes other harder ones become that bit less intimidating.


Not a silly question, worth revisiting periodically.

I'd spend part of the time doing some sort of weight-lifting or low-stress cardio, part of the time working on independent B2B/B2C software ventures, and part of the time training as a musician.

Eventually I'd like to add some component of service to others there, but I haven't really felt a pull to that yet.


I'd focus on becoming more spiritual, spending more time in nature, reducing my waste footprint and disconnecting from the world.

I don't believe that "making society more rational, healthy, and well-coordinated" is a contribution; this sounds like those who have private jets and go to global conventions to about saving the environment. It sounds to me like you are a narcissist as well, to think that you are more rational than others or know better just because you have money.

The world is pretty rational, if they aren't healthy, it's because people are building the Coke's and Kraft Heinz around the world, companies that are predatory and exploit weaknesses of others.

Try to live a life that you no longer need to exploit others, or animals, or the environment you live in, and of course, document it so others can do it as well.

There are way too many rich folks already trying to change the world and making it worse because they are only looking at the bright side, not the side-effects of what they do, much less on how they live.

Rich people don't try to do this because they know it's really hard. Living sustainably is harder than having a job or making money.


This is the most realistic answer provided in this post thus far, and I feel the downvotes are just proving the point. _Not needing money doesn't make you an expert on the world_, please repeat that to yourself and everyone else on that path.


i didn't mean to say that making society more rational healthy and coordinated is the only way to contribute. you could certainly go to a monastery and meditate. also i meant that money would not even be something to think about, not that you are very rich. and i know what you're talking about with the rationalist thing, where a lot of "rational people" are really just overly-intellectual and selfish and don't really do anything; that's not what i mean by rational. i'm talking about evolutionary adaptation, surviving collectively, doing actual science, changing our mindset to care for everyone and make money obsolete because we have the technology and skills to do so.

>It sounds to me like you are a narcissist as well, to think that you are more rational than others or know better just because you have money.

we're just sharing ideas, not implying that we know better than anyone. anyone can share their ideas in this thought experiment. i think you imposed an incorrect assumption of what i was trying to say upon my words.


If cash wasn't a thing, I'd be all in on creating a system that lets you transfer your memories and brainpower into another body or a robot.

I'll let you laugh at this like others, but I'm serious.


You will enjoy Netflix series Carbon. Exact same basis for the series.


Assuming you are referring to Altered Carbon, I would definitely suggest the books, too (or first, IMO).


When this becomes possible, prisons will become very compact: a micro SD card to trap one's consciousness.


As you might expect, there's a Black Mirror episode not far from that (IIRC "White Christmas"). And several other works of literature.


Curious how one starts doing this. Don't we need several generations of Neuralink to even start?


I wouldn’t work towards anything.

I’d shitpost online, read books, go to the coffeeshop, watch movies, go on walks, etc.

Took 3 years off in my 20s to do exactly that and it was incredible. Best years of my life. Would drop everything and do it again in heartbeat if I could swing it financially.


you think it was worth it even though you could have been saving money during that time?


Lol, yes.

I guess it depends on what you think the point of money is.

If you think it’s like getting a high score in Donkey Kong, then you’ll be sad you didn’t max out your gains for 3 extra years. But if you think of money as something you need enough of and that’s it, then you’ll gladly take the 3 extra years of complete freedom.

I only need as much money as I need — not more.

Obviously there’s some risk/uncertainty there and I’m not against saving for the future so I do my best to be prepared. But I don’t see saving money as something that’s worth my time if it can be reasonably avoided.


I would have a nut tree orchard and nursery. I love gardening and being outside. If I didn't need to work to support my family I would risk starting a nursery.


That's easy. Writing books and researching curiosities.

I have dozens of book ideas, from novels to reference volumes. My research would at least partially focus on energy/power generation/storage, and partially on current scientific mysteries in our reality.

Ideally, such work could help enrich humanity. Make the world better in some way. Sadly, unless I win a lottery tomorrow or a wealthy person issues me a grant, some of this work won't get done.


You have ideas on power storage?


I'm not them, but recently I've become interested in thermal batteries (aka sand batteries) ala https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVqHYNE2QwE which isn't exactly power storage but my house specifically uses 50% of my electricity for the water heater and untold $$$ (and CO2 :( :( ) for the house heater, and thus if I could load up a sand battery with heat and disburse it for hot water and hot air, that'd be swell

Tankless is for sure one fix to that problem, but if I had a magic wand the thermal battery still feels "better" to me


At this point I’m kind of bored of programming and I’d probably leave if it didn’t pay so well.

If I had enough money I’d probably take up sewing full time and make furry cosplay stuff. Seems much more rewarding than building corporate tech junk.


I'm bored too. I got into programming young so I'm only about 15 years into my career and it's been my hobby for 25 years.

Not only will I never learn everything about software, but I hit the point of negative returns a while ago. Every hour I spend on the computer is an hour I'm not spending on myself or my friends or on making new friends

I just want to travel, exercise, practice non-monogamy, do stuff like that I didn't do as a teenager because I was busy programming. The computer will be there when I'm done.


I would like to make my DevOps colleagues more productive and less frustrated. I'm actually already doing it, it's just way slower when you can't do it as a full time job.

I started working on Next Generation Shell in 2013. I have the programming language in quite a good shape and we use it at work.

I'm working on the UI now. The main idea of the UI is to get rid of telegraph-style communication paradigm of sending text and receiving text. We can actually use the whole screen now. We have text editing using full screen since 1976 (vi) but classical shells are ignoring this capability till this day. It's time to stop treating outputs of programs as if they are still printed on paper, allowing zero interactivity.

https://github.com/ngs-lang/ngs/wiki/UI-Design

https://github.com/ngs-lang/ngs/wiki/UI-Chain-Design

Have a nice day!


I’d build handcrafted furniture, millwork, etc. give it away. Help others in the community / area with projects. Sail, grow more food, spend more time reflecting, staring at clouds, watching the ecosystem in the grass etc.


I would continue to (re)build my decentralized Web Browser network, which aimed to combat fake propaganda, fake news, shit storms etc by creating evidence trails and by correlating articles with similar or opposing entries.

That, and a lot of nice things you can do when you have trust ratios of local/global peers, more efficient bandwidth usage etc.

Anyways, long story short, needs lots of time and money to build something like this. But seeing how messed up Mozilla's future plans are, I really think someone should do it.

After I got doxxed by kiwifarms, /pol/ and others I decided that I have to fix the cybersecurity problem first before I can go back to this.

[1] (prototype) https://github.com/tholian-network/stealth

[2] (privacy focussed fork of webkit) https://github.com/tholian-network/retrokit


Health. I'm in lower 40ties and in two and a half years had two surgeries to fix a herniated disc. After the first surgery a part of my recovery were exercises on pilates reformer and it worked wonders. Unfortunately I needed a second surgery and now I'm slowly getting back on the reformer.

My original plan was just to get back to normal and continue living as normal. This recently changed, and I don't want to get back to normal. I want to be healthier than I ever was. I want to be stronger and much more flexible. You don't know what you have until you lose it.

So without much money I'll work on myself by doing pilates and other resistance training, and if I had more money I would probably open up pilates studio so I could share the joy which I'm having.

When you're not healthy, the only thing you want above all is health. If I were asked the same question 3 years ago I would say: riding bikes all day long. This still might be the answer, but long and toned muscles come first.


I won’t tell the whole story but the other day a 1st grader who came over to hang out with my kids punched me in the stomach with “wow you have so much food.”

The breakfast program at school is largely funded by Canada’s largest, exceptionally profitable grocery chain. But this year they’re radio silence on renewing the funding.

So I’d probably be working on making sure children are fed.


Probably making LLVM compile times not suck or something.


Someone retire this man.


Do they? Last I compared them, LLVC was much faster than gcc. To the extent that I'd test with one, and release with the other.


I'd probably jump between service based positions gear towards helping others/community even if they resemble a job.

Cobbler, Librarian, Prepare food in a school, stage crew, idc just something relatively physical and with an end product/objective and for the support of others/something. It would probably change every 3 - 6 months or so.


I wouldn't work. I would play with my kids, travel and have fun.


Math. I'd do math and let my curiosity take me wherever it goes in this vast field


A free, open-source, federated platform for scientific/technical collaboration & publishing.


have you heard of https://osf.io/ ?


yes I have... I think OSF is missing a lot of needed features.


I used to be a data scientist, I'm now a grad student researching personality development. There are easier ways to make a lot more money, but I feel like I'm doing the deepest possible work, given my interests and skillset.


Stopping climate change, and helping homeless would be at the top of my list, and if those are not up your alley space exploration and AGI seem fun.

For bonus points, you could work on not making us poor folk feel bad for having to work a 9-5! ;)


I'm not sure, and that slightly concerning to me. I'm on the path to be financially independent within the decade, but I'm not really sure what I'd do in that case. I'd probably keep writing software (since that's my first love) and just have the complete freedom to quit a job or take time off if I want.

I'd like to get into some more hobbies, since I really went 100% in on software once I started working full time and I'd really hate to burn out on this. Working a shorter week or with more half days would be great too. We'll see. Life changes.


I'm on a similar path, and still haven't figured it out. My main recommendation would be to increase the time you spend on hobbies, travelling, volunteering, etc. Use the next few years to figure out what you enjoy, and what you are retiring to. Slowly let it expand to fill your available time.

And if you decide not to stop working, there is something truly freeing about knowing that you don't need the job. In some cases I'd argue that it actually makes you a better employee (since you aren't willing to put up with bs, play politics, etc).


Some people get a lot of meaning out of helping others; probably worth a try


Put more energy into this movement: `walk, talk, meditate`[0]

[0]: https://github.com/momentmaker/walk-talk-meditate


Is it a kind of lifestyle guide? I'm very interested in this kind of writing. Thank you.


Love it! I will definitely try to make these a part of my lifestyle.


If I won the lottery (I don't buy lottery tickets, but roll with me here), I'd go to graduate school. Multiple graduate schools, in multiple subjects. There's so much to learn, and so many beautiful places in the world in which to do it. European two-year masters degrees are perfect: lots of depth, without a vast time commitment. I'd do an anthropology degree; archeology; something in history; art history. Urban planning is fascinating. Experimental economics. Do one at Oxford; another at Trinity College, Dublin. I'm sure there's something worth studying in Wellington, NZ. I'd improve my Spanish to the point that I can read Spanish poetry at Madrid University, then find something else interesting to dive into somewhere in South America. I'd endow a chair or something everywhere, so no one looks too hard at my pre-reqs, and I wouldn't worry about grades, but I'd still work damn hard, because everything about it would be a joy.

If you're just talking about a normal retirement? I'd go back to doing theatre, which was my first love, and the thing I was better at than anything else I've ever done. Acting, directing, teaching, writing. Theatre people are my people. Making theatre was my passion, and I could do with some passion back in my life.


I don’t have enough to retire on, but spent my last decade working on what I wanted. I worked on Formal Proof, until I realized the problem wasn’t the tech but the math-proof business model. (Academic mathematicians aren’t incentivized to write formal proofs.). I got an Econ degree. I’ve studied housing in Austin and advocated to loosen restrictive regulation that causes high rents. And I designed version 3 of Parchive. (You may know the previous version by its file extension “.par2”)


This is part of my life philosophy. The word retire needs to be retired. The concept of waiting until you have enough money to last you to an age you probably won’t live to before you start doing the things you want is bizarre to me, especially as your mental and physical capacity declines. Seize the day. Earn less doing something you enjoy more. Work a 4 day week. Take longer breaks between jobs.


In the tech realm: I'd spend my time doing optimization work for open-source projects. It's fun, and you get to show some objective results. I'd probably do that until I had some sort of concrete idea for a cool project or some kind of project that might benefit the world somehow.

Or maybe I'd just leave tech behind entirely and do volunteer work.

But I feel like that's a one-way street. If I walked away from tech for a few years, and decided I wanted to go back... it feels like it would be very difficult.


Probably Christian apologetics. It is clear to me that science is incompatible with atheism and supports the Christian worldview, but this does not seem to be widely understood.


If you want to be a theist why stop at Christianity? Why prefer one religion over the other? Theism has existed thousands of years before Christ appeared and these theists had wildly different ideas about almost everything than what Christ taught. Makes you think, who is right?


Because Christianity is the theistic system that makes the most sense.


Is there any book in that area you'd recommend? I'd be interested in reading something I'm totally unfamiliar with.


I would recommend Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson. A short and extraordinarily limpid book. Reading it is like drinking a cool glass of water.

I also like everything written by Stephen C Meyer. As far as I am concerned Meyer is the world's leading historian and philosopher of science.


interesting. can you expound on that?


A good example is the multiverse hypothesis. It is the only way to avoid theism if you are a physicist, but it is also ludicrously extravagant and states as it's first principle that evidence for it cannot be detected (because all the things we can detect are in our universe).

But if the need to avoid theism counts as evidence, then I guess you're stuck with the multiverse.

The best example is the existence of life. The question of the origin of life truly is the only interesting question because without life no other questions even arise.

But we can do biochemistry and microbiology at a high level now and the evidence for life having been designed is overwhelming to the point of being staggering. We found a freaking a *code* at the bottom of it all, for !*$%&@ sake!

Note that the entire Darwinian story assumes the existence of life. So you can't appeal to "evolution" to bail you out because evolution depends on reproduction and survival and so on, and none of that happens prior to the existence of life. (Read The Stairway to Life: An Origin-of-Life Reality Check by Tan & Stadler if you want the reality check good and hard).

People will commonly start throwing in big words at this point: abiogensis! protobiotic vesicles! bioenergetic pathways! abiotic polymerization! but it is all just designed to snow you into submission.

Physics rules out atheism, and the existence of life rules out deism. So we're stuck with theism.

The move from theism to specifically Christian theism can also be made, but I'm not going to do it here.

I will say, however, that unless Christianity is true Judaism doesn't make any sense, because Judaism lacks a universal cosmology (it simply can't answer the question "why didn't God choose all people").

From the perspective of Christianity Judaism make sense (the Jews are chosen in the sense that through the Jews comes salvation for all people), but Judaism doesn't make sense from the perspective of just Judaism.


> I will say, however, that unless Christianity is true Judaism doesn't make any sense, because Judaism lacks a universal cosmology (it simply can't answer the question "why didn't God choose all people"). In Judaism, the answer to that question is that God asked each nation to accept His commandments, but they each had cultures that were incompatible, and refused. When He asked the Jews, they agreed unconditionally.


That is an obvious of post-hoc rationalization. It appears no where in Scripture or in any other culture's history or mythology. And even if it were true, it still doesn't amount to more than "the Jews are just better", which is just a pathetic theology.


I retired in my late 30s and had kids. So I’m a full time parent as is my partner. I guess that’s my revealed choice for what my ideal job would be? Sometimes I’m not completely happy with my choice, but mostly I am.

If I had more time, or more energy, I’d program for fun more often.

I don’t especially believe in “changing the world.” Not that you can’t (though really, you can’t, to 3 sig figs) just I don’t care to.


Buying some old and big land, renovating the buildings on it and than building a mix of park and permaculture garden

Then researching and building open source farming robot.


I have almost always done what I want and that is writing software. I like writing development tools, formal theories and low level stuff (databases, OS, editors).

And, since about two years, I am working with some friends on Common Lisp software again; far more enjoyable than anything else imho. I regret going for some of the new fads in the 90s while I could’ve been working with CL all that time. But he, regrets are useless and I did learn a lot.


What do you consider fads of the 90's? We had object-orientation, of course, Java, it was the beginning of XML.


All of them and more… We did CL, and Perl before Java and then immediately went to the 0.1 of Java when it was available. JSP didn’t exist yet, or servlets even, but we were hooked.

I went into 2000s doing enterprise java beans (and Corba code generators in xml) and stupid over architected Java stuff with everything XML (and XSLT). We wrote our own db which stored XML (but was mostly in memory), our own frontend language in XML. All with Java under it.

Our own fairly comprehensive application server with all kinds of ready made components; we sold a lot of licenses and in the end the company for a lot to a big vendor who immediately threw it all away.

But yes, we drank all the koolaid and it was good timing of course, just all very stodgy, especially as the system and the clients grew; we did the same large sized applications as we (other ‘we’ but still me) do now, but with far more people and far worse processes. The first years we had zip file version control (until moving to csv and then svn), tests, what are those? And more like that.

In hindsight, I would’ve skipped Java until Clojure, or skipped it altogether. I was very good at Common Lisp and c/c++ and liked all those things better. But I was convinced somehow that all that was going to die because of Java.


It all did die because of Java, or at least went into hibernation.

Common Lisp, true or not, was known as an AI language and died because it was attached to the AI winter.

C++ was killed by Java for a lot of business software, including at my company. It won what I call the 80/20 battle, meaning it gave you 80% of what the old technology gave you for 20% of the hassle. You still had OO, but didn’t have to worry about pass by reference vs. pass by value, interfaces got you out of the multiple inheritance diamond problem, and garbage collection of course. Do you think if your application server was in Common Lisp or Perl that it would have sold for a lot?

Other losers of the 80/20 battles, Java over C++, XML over SGML, JSON over XML.

Cobra…shudder. Oh and COM, don’t forget COM. My greatest accomplishments in my career were avoiding going into management and avoiding COM.


Yeah, Java did win but c/c++ didn’t die and I just liked them better. And seemed you could’ve made a good sandwich for the past 25 years with CL as well. But yeah, the path I chose was probably the best for the time. Allowing me to retire before 30 (but didn’t).

COM I missed completely: we drank the Windows hatred koolaid popular in some circles back then too (Borg Gates etc), management I did for a bit thinking I would like it; I didn’t.


Some voluntary work and care giving to others who need help. I would do some social projects supporting the teens finding orientation. That's what I would do.


> basically what would your ideal job be

Easy. A nonexistent one. If you didn't need money, why would you be seeking a job?

> would you contribute towards making society more rational, healthy, and well-coordinated?

How does a job contribute to 'society'? Who works to contribute to society? What company exists to 'contribute to society'?

Has 'hacker' news become so cynical to believe one's existence is about finding a job?


Oh get off it, the dude is asking what you’d work in if you had all the money in the world.

It’s not hard to understand the spirit of his question.

If your answer is none, that’s great, I think the follow up sermon was unnecessary.


> It’s not hard to understand the spirit of his question.

Agreed. That's why I answered as I did.

> If your answer is none, that’s great, I think the follow up sermon was unnecessary.

You proved it was necessary. Might want to look into why you are getting so defensive. Seems like I touched a nerve.


I like your questions. They are the sum of what our culture and society projects onto us.

The question to ask is what kind of people you want to create? It is perhaps a bit arrogant to think one can upgrade such a complex device. It can be a modest modification tho. Then you find ways to push society in that direction. You probably wont move mountains but we work with what we have. This nudging might involve a company depending on where we are going.

I doubt one could contribute to society directly.

Calling it a job is just our nutty vocabulary. The ancient Greeks would probably call it leisure.

I had some pretty good ideas for myself but the problem I kept running into is that people are so fucking unimaginative and nihilistic that they get angry if they cant have their cynical 3 seconds glory of "I told you it wouldn't work"


Come on, you're being intentionally dense. OP framed your quote as a question, not a statement. They're not exploring nor judging people on whether or not they should be contributing to society even with no pressure towards it. They're asking the if they think they would, and how.

A "no" suffices. And in fact, is valuable, as it feeds the secondary implicit survey you allude to.

Personally, that's my answer. My public contribution would be in archival, I'd edit a lot of wiki pages. But it would be driven by my interest, not practicality, so it would be mostly useless to society at large. Most of my time would actually be consumed by personal stuff for my friend groups.


I would work on making education more enjoyable and more effective in a scalable way, so that young people start liking it intrinsically and can get more out of it.

I would study to get as much as possible formal education myself in economics, law, marketing / psychology and politics and I would try to improve peoples' lives through politics.

I would develop the most useful side projects I put on hold.


Same old scientific research like I've been doing for over 40 years.

Back then if you wanted to do something where you actually "needed money" you might as well give up right away.

I guess it's a little bit like it is now that inflation has pushed anything like that out of reach for so many people who were closing in on leveraging those type abilities just a few years ago. Fortunately it's not as bad yet as it was in the 1970's.

There was no other option but to get more progress accomplished using less resources.

Especially monetary resources, this can be some of the hardest to come by, even well-heeled people can just sometimes be so greedy.

One cost that was skyrocketing so badly was energy, and it doesn't even move the needle if you can't get your consumption down to about 10% of what average consumers use. It's not easy and it takes years living within your means, working within your means, even when you do not have the cash flow of an average consumer, you can end up quite early not feeling at all like you need more money to make maximum progress compared to some very well-financed operations.

Of course some money is essential but it's good over the long term not to have an ongoing perceived feeling of shortage over what you don't have, that can be the more limiting factor.

I would say questions like this "Ask HN" are something that comes up often for more mainstream technical operators. So many are mainly working for a paycheck and money is always on their mind.

It's been so many decades and times of less-than-average money have not been a limitation on my rate of progress, operating within my means.

At the other end of the spectrum, for those who might be interested in energy projects that people would love, no matter how much money you have, I've got something you can't afford ;)


I already love what I'm doing for a living as a CTO for a small start-up, and probably wouldn't quit, but if money absolutely wasn't an object and my current mission were fullfilled, then I'd probably spend more hours on gardening, and more hours on "technoetic" art/research projects: exploring consciousness through technological means.


Let's say by "didn't need money" you mean I have an income that is enough to fully support my family and keep my home in good repair and even make home improvements (we need some big repairs to gutters and fascia, deck, HVAC, etc.) That's not a small number especially factoring in health care... but let's assume it's taken care of and all our needs are taken care of, and I even have a little disposable income for IT, music stuff, books, etc. I could continue with the things I've done in my limited free time for decades:

- writing non-fiction and fiction - making original music and podcasts - developing educational hardware/software projects - developing my own programming languages - continuing to refine and catalog our large home library - gardening and transitioning towards growing more of our own food.

I'd spend much more time involved with my kids since my wife and I already homeschool, but I can't put very much time into it now.


I'd work on whatever my current hobby is. The actual hobby changes over time. Currently, my hobby is maintaining/repairing cars. If I had more time (and space), I'd restore old cars and/or build a track car (and of course use it on track).

Unfortunately the time and space limits means I don't even have the time to finish my very long TODO list on my own car.


I would love to do research in Foundation Models and Philosophy of Mind.


I'd open a bakery and make fresh sourdough bread, pizzas, focaccia and pasta every single day, and give it away for cost.


Would you still start at 4am in the morning? I was contemplating "retiring" to work at a local cooperative bakery that makes similar things, but their shifts were at horrible times that felt like it would ruin my health.


I would not wake up at 4am. I am much more interested in making the bread, baking is the easiest part. I would hire a night owl to do the baking. Everything else can be baked for lunch.


Which is stupid since if you give away the bread for free or cost people can just wait till lunch I guess


I have a few ideas:

Would spend my time building an organization that helps people get dev roles, kind of like a recruiter agency, but if the person isn't getting jobs because of their experience, we give them the platform to gain the experience they need to be successful in the job market.

Would work on helping eSports athletes to make a living playing the game they love. Dunno how that'd even work yet but that'd be something I'd like to work on.

Staying with eSports, trying to 'Moneyball' FGC games. How do we track stats & data for fighting games and extract meaningful metrics we can use to improve players skills. Would want to do this for other games but there seems to be work going on there so it'd probably be best to start with fighting games where that work might not be happening.


> What would you spend your time working on if you didn't need money?

What an interesting question; thank you for asking it!

What I would spend my time working on...I guess I would continue with what I have been doing the past 15 years.

  - continue working on improving my character
  - fixing my past mistakes and learn from them
  - enrich my knowledge with topics I may find interesting at any time
  - learn to forgive and put myself in others' shoes to see their own POV
  - embrace life
  - appreciate little things; such as a smile, a hug, a kiss

This whole process I have aforementioned can impact anyone's job towards the best, because people will notice (eventually) that something is different with you and how you approach things in your life, let alone in your job, and they will appreciate it; well, at least I hope!


I think I would want to work on an open source video game engine or a CPU.

In a world where nobody had to worry about money, I think we’d have trouble getting enough people together to work on a very good CPU. And I don’t know enough to do it on my own. But I think I’d enjoy tinkering with it, even if I got a very poor result.


For my curiosity, what are your objections to Gadot for the first and RISC-V for the second?

Or, in the spirit of less trail-blazing, OpenSPARC T2 is GPLv3 <https://www.oracle.com/servers/technologies/opensparc-t2-pag...> and OpenPOWER is Apache 2 <https://github.com/OpenPOWERFoundation/a2o>


In addition to taking care of myself and my family, I'm working on:

- Polishing my personal website[1], and going back to blogging.

- Figuring out trading signals[2] and algorithms, testing via paper trading.

- An API[3] to verify YC company and founders.

- Monitoring my investment portfolio, re-balance once or twice a year.

- Mentoring AI/ML engineers and leaders. Free 30-min intro call[4].

- Various indie projects that are under research or haven't been launched... :)

[1]: https://ivylee.github.io/

[2]: https://www.signalstalk.com/

[3]: https://www.ycverify.com/

[4]: https://cal.com/studioxolo/intro


I'd fix every outstanding bug I've reported but not had the time to fix myself.


I’d love to teach math/science to kids. I think I would be very good at it and enjoy it. But the pay really sucks.

At home id setup a shop with a 3d printer, laser cutter, cnc machine, power tools, etc. And I’d spend my free time just making all sorts of fun stuff.


Currently working toward this at 38, but my goal is to start building a team of individuals to create a research / design firm that studies symbiotic relationships in nature in order to discover and pair natural additive processes (think spider producing webs as one of these additive process) starting with bespoke pieces such as a spider woven glove.

This would help create buzz and intrigue with the objective to attract top talent and essentially the seed money to self funded a hybrid medusa that is studying "organic 3D printers" with the objective of being the "Manhattan project" size of integrating nature into the manufacturing process.


Gardening and either a small farm or animal rescue.


1. Spending more time with my family. My mom, dad, grandpa, and grandma live in another city. I seldom have the chance to visit them — typically only five or six times a year. 2. Travel more. There are so many places I want to visit—the sea, snow mountains, etc. Maybe it is because I stay at home too long. 3. Create software for fun, not for pay. Programming is my first love. 4. learn some new skills - painting, calligraphy, Spanish, etc. Mastering skills I didn't have before excites me.

I am rather inward and only care about myself and my family.


> basically what would your ideal job be, in an ideal world?

But that's a completely different question from the one in the title. My ideal job and what I'd do if I didn't need money are two very different things.

If I didn't need money, I'd have more time to do the things I already do when I'm not "on the clock", so I'd do more of them.

> would you contribute towards making society more rational, healthy, and well-coordinated?

Yes, absolutely. I already do. But I'd also be able to spend more time expanding my knowledge and skillset, having fun, and other such stuff with no direct connection with improving the world.


i suppose i meant "ideal job" in the sense that no matter what you have to have something to do each day. so what would that be. if you didn't need money, you could do your ideal collection-of-daily-activities.


I would develop a production-ready Datalog database system.

I am convinced a better alternative to the execrable SQL would significantly raise developer productivity.

http://frest.substack.com


I'd need capital as well as financial independence, but I'd work on free / at-cost daycare, including for shift workers. Working in infosec, I've often thought that one of the reasons (not the only one of course) that we have so few women at the senior levels is that so few women can take the typical entry route (night shift SOC) for family reasons. I'm sure there are many other similar professions.

If that didn't work out I'd lie on the couch, get fat(ter) and read philosophy and history. Less meaningful but still a pretty good life.


You ask one thing in the title and something else in your text. I'm answering only the question in the title.

As of now, I'd split my time between a couple of things:

(1) In winter and autumn, become a part-time psychologist to help reduce some of the mental pain that people go through.

(2) In spring and summers, go for weeks-long hikes in nature, become a part-time hiking guide in the mountains. Help maintain the trails, mountain-hut infrastructure, and take people on hikes. Simply, be more in nature.

Luckily, today I can still enjoy some of these: study cognitive science as a hobby, and hike in nature in my free time.


Is a seasonal psychiatrist a thing? Don't patients need support in spring?


Good question. To be frank, I haven't given a thought about all these details. Just to riff on this hypothetical scenario, it's not a clinical setting. Ideally, I'd working with a small group, where we can work together with the client. Maybe take turns. Or maybe in a supporting role to another senior expert. Again, this is all fantasy at the moment. :-)


I have loved programming for 30+ years and still do the occasional project to scrape/automate things I find frustrating, but I also have afk aspirations such as thru-hiking around the world starting with the tour du mont blanc and moving on to the pacific crest trail and the te araroa trail. Also giving back as a volunteer https://www.justserve.org/ seems a lot more appealing to me than spending my golden years behind a computer screen.


Mostly just do whatever I find fun. Maybe contribute to the communities of those hobbies a bit while I still enjoy them. Thinking I'd do anything grander than that would be lying to myself.


A depressing reality to this question is to just look at the current crop of billionaires. None of them need money, yet many of them spend their time pursuing more.

I know all of us have these quaint answers about all the noble or fulfilling things we would do, but the data doesn't seem to support that.


I've met people who were born into enough money they never needed to work, and a lot of them are just pretty normal people sans jobs. I think the interesting question here would be how would you live if you had enough without working, but little enough that you still had to think about how to stretch it over a lifetime. E.g. are you flying first class to spend a few days skiing in the Alps this weekend? Probably not, but you can make sandwiches and go for a hike instead of clocking in to work.


The specifics do matter. You can have a very comfortable month-long international trip for certainly low five figures. (Obviously can do less but a few $K/week for a couple is a reasonable baseline.) You can also quickly add to the tab by picking the luxury hotels, first class flights, limos, etc. that may or may not add a lot to the experience considering.

I've traveled a lot and sometimes the splurge is really worth it. Often, it's not unless the money involved is just pocket lint to the person.


I agree - I've travelled enough on my own dime and the corporate one to know that you definitely don't want to get the cheapest room on Expedia, but satisfaction doesn't scale linearly with the amount you spend. Filet mignon doesn't automatically beat a nice warm rock to sit on.



There's a bit less than 3000 billionaires, are you sure you're not just hearing about a very vocal minority?

Not to mention survivorship bias, the ones that reach that kind of wealth like money more than (other people's) life itself, often quite literally.


Glass half full, or glass half empty? Look at the ones who are doing noble/fulfilling things.


Because the work they do is satisfying and interesting. Take that away and they’re less of a person. They can’t stop because the person they are is tied up with what they do.


I mean, I think it is a different scenario. The kind of person who makes a billion dollars has something going on in their brain that makes them want to keep going. Think about it: by the point where they've made a billion dollars, they've long since passed on the opportunity to retire comfortably. They already had all the money they needed, and, faced with the chance to stop, they decided to stay in. They flew past $10MM, past $50MM, even $100MM—far more than anyone could ever spend unless they really tried—all while saying "no, I'm not done yet". I would not expect someone with this mentality to suddenly stop at $1 billion. They are in it for something other than reaching the point of not having to work anymore. I'm not saying I admire them, in fact it sounds like a terrifying inner life to me.

On the other hand, the rest of us, the 98.7% of people who are only working for the paycheck that allows us to do the other things we actually want to do instead of our jobs. The extent to which we work is the extent to which we must pay for those needs. Remove the need to work, and we wouldn't be working anymore—not at those jobs, anyway.

What I'm saying is, I believe non-generational billionaires are weird outliers, and we can ignore them for the purposes of this question.


Our CEO is obsessed with "engagement." He has a problem where older employees are not engaged and are retiring in droves, and the incoming employees couldn't give two shits less about the company. They keep begging retirees to return.

I think this is microcosim of our wider economy. If it is, output is going to fall off a cliff, soon.


I have some specific ideas on high school maths education that I’d like to develop into a book or two for self-publishing. Working is currently one serious obstacle to that.


Care to relate some of them? My mom was a high school math teacher, my dad is a physicist and I had a STEM education, so math pedagogy is near and dear to me.


I would spend my time working on music. This entire universe was created from nothing to everything, and there has always been sound. I believe sound can be used to solve many problems, from healing people of sickness to moving heavy objects, as the ancient Egyptians did. So I would want to decode the mystery of music. The music I like to listen to and want to create more of is similar, so that I can derive great pleasure from listening to it.


I would help WikiHouse (https://www.wikihouse.cc/) project. It is a DIY-able CNC-machined plywood- or OSB-based house. I would like to make it more parametric and smart.

My pet project these days is "nothing to WikiHouse": DIY a minimally viable 3D printer, print a bigger 3D printer on it (e.g. Voron), print a CNC machine (LowRider CNC V3), and use it to cut the house sheets.


I'd probably just own some kind of cycling adjacent coffee/bicycle shop where I barely do anything but nod towards my workers and talk with everyone who visits.


Have you read, ‘A Psalm For The Wild Built’ by Becky Chambers? The protagonist is a monk that cycles around on a bicycle-camper making tea for people, and ends up making friends with wild robots. Touching...I've thought of serving coffee and tea at the nearby parks via bicycle often. A physical location such as yours would be nice too.


There's two different ways of answering this question: What would I do if I didn't need money for myself, and what would I do if I didn't need money for myself but had money for others.

In the first, I would keep working and enjoy life. In the latter, I would use it to help others. Specifically investing in technologies, companies, and public policy that helps people with disabilities and make their lives easier; better jobs, housing, everyday life, etc.


Writing software that makes all other software more efficient, reliable, and easier to run/read.

I really dislike how most software in large corporations degrades over time and increases in complexity. Some pockets are better than others, and there are momentary improvements to bad software, but entropy eventually sets in.

I would build org-wide ratchet mechanisms that make it easier to do the right thing than the wrong thing.


Work on problems that interest me.


Try to make some progress on arthritis, cancer and dementia


Definitely full time on all of my open source scrabble tools - a new AI, a lichess-like app to play online, and a word study tool - probably turn it all into one big platform. My github has more info - github.com/domino14 if you’re interested in submitting some code :D

In the downtime I would go hard on learning a bunch of instruments well - piano, violin, and hopefully voice.


I am 46 and hope to retire at 50.

Been active most of my life and plan to do more of it - mountain-biking, racquet sports, skiing, etc.

My kids will be in their teens, and I hope to focus more on them and prepare them for life.

Get involved in the local community, and help less fortunate people. I do this mainly by contributing money but I hope to give time.

Travel - Not as a tourist which I've done for most of my life, but as a true explorer of cultures.


1. Science 2. Philosophy 3. Art

I am currently factually volunteering to a project in CERN that needs full-time attention, but unfortunately I need to feed myself and my family so I work at daytime as a full-time Software(Data) Engineer. I spent whatever time I find (mostly nights) doing science. I do hope I will manage to deliver new NN method I experiment now. This has a lifelong meaning for me.


How do you "work on" philosophy?

Asking because my web developer wife, who happened to have majored in art and philosophy, is currently unemployed and kinda bummed about it.


YouTube video essays?

Only sort of joking; I have no idea what the economics of a small YouTube/Nebula channel look like and I suspect it's one of those things with a tiny minority of people whose work ends up being net positive and a long tail of others who break even or lose money.


It seems like there isn't any hobbyist philosophy right? Either your in academia or reposting stoic quotes on Instagram it feels like lol


Check out the local dive bar. They are the modern version of 19th century coffee houses.


Reading a lot and from certain point on writing if I get something new to say.


I’d work on my app BeatScratch full time. (https://beatscratch.io)


Farming, beekeeping and moving around on a horse.


I don't need to make money anymore. But the type of person you become to earn a lot of money, and the type of systems you surround yourself with to make that happen becomes increasingly difficult to break free from. So the only thing to do is to make even more money. Only you are strong enough to break the shackles.


Same stuff I do now, probably. Contribute to Fedora/Ansible.

I'd like to think I'd take better care of myself, but given I know this should be the priority now... I'm being realistic.

I'll forever be angry how I had to min/max skills like this to break out of poverty. Making things accessible to others is my dream.


Working on myself, my relationships, and my family. Exercising more, but doing more of the types of exercise I'd prefer (hiking and mountain biking) than I can really handle right now with work and young children. Gardening, canning and preserving food. Reading and writing. I'd spend more time with my parents and brother, who live very far away.

I'd work on house projects, too. I'd redo our flooring right out of the gate if I had more time. I did it in my previous home and enjoyed both the process and the outcome.

I still love programming, I started when I was single digits and am now in my 40s. I've been doing it professionally for just about 20 years now. But I'm frankly tired of digital everything at this point in my life. I have been filling my personal life with offline and analog hobbies and with every passing year I wish I could spend even less time in front of a computer.


This is me. 36. I’m building the startup lab I always wanted to build now that I’ve been around the block a few times, and writing lots of open source.

Once self sustaining will branch into angel investing as well but trying to focus in one big thing at a time.

I just absolutely love startups and helping people bring their ideas to life.


I've been making scented candles. Its easy enough to get started but there's enough complexity to it to keep things interesting. If I didn't need money I'd just do that all the time and build it into a small business (that didn't need to make money, since I'm sure it wouldn't haha)


I’m not sure it wouldn’t, I have a friend who’s doing just that and making a nice business out of it.


As many have noted there are two different scenarios.

In the lottery jackpot/UBI scenario where money is no concern at all I'd camp, fish, read books, and drink whisky.

In the need a job, but every job will pay my asking salary scenario, I'd make software like I do now, but probably for a smaller, less bureaucratic company.


I'd ask the same question, but with a sinister twist:

What would you do if you don't worry about money AND law enforcement?


Adding counter spin: And you had the unquestioned backing of world leaders ala the wall watchers in The Three Body Problem.

What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money, or opposition, and the sky itself wasn’t even the limit.


I will create a global society that is mostly a dictate of scientists and engineers. My point: It's better to be dictated by scientists and engineers than lawyers and accountants, if we have to be dictated.

- It is MANDATORY to receive STEM education up to undergraduate level AND pass several tests unless you are proved to be unfit by more than one independent medical institutions;

- A commission consists of global scientific and engineering elites dictate what scientific humans should pursue in the next X years. So for example it could be Space exploration, etc;

- All basic needs are free. Food, housing, clothing, transportation, entertainment etc are free. But any extravagant material (e.g. a family of 3 wants a 3,000 s.f. detached house with a 2-acre land? That's extravagant) is expensive and may require extraordinary contribution to Science or Engineering;

- All other resources are poured into research and development of above mentioned scientific pursuits;

- We don't really need a monetary system because most of the basic needs are free. Instead we have a "contribution point" system. Detail to be revealed;

I could probably go on and on but that's the basic ideas.


i like it, and have thought of similar ideas. i would add yogis or "spiritual masters" or something like that to the scientists and engineers, just to keep things in check and not let the intellect take over too much.

so it seems like your vision would be to maximize understanding of the universe, which i agree with, because that is like the ultimate thing that makes sense to do in order for our species to survive for the longest amount of time possible.


I have given my "model" some thoughts and unfortunately arrive at the conclusion that it probably won't change much, for the following reasons:

- Extraordinary scientists and engineers usually don't like management, so eventually management goes into the "managers". The rest is history.

- How can we make sure that ordinary people have a say? In my model I frankly dismiss their right to rule because they cannot compete with the elite scientists.

But again maybe this is still better than what we have today. Imagine the whole society functioning as a huge university. Sure you get corruption and cronyism in universities too, but at least if you mess up something and if you get caught, you will be shunned.


ayy 3 body problem. good book series.


With enough money, you don't need to worry about law enforcement.


Since you're on a throwaway account, I'm assuming you've already started this machiavellian endevour. ;-)


I wish I had the $$$$...


I am very slowly working on a non-profit community management / RSVP collection platform. Think of this as an alternative of the websites you tend to think of if you want to collect RSVPs for a social club or meetup group, but run and maintained by a Wikimedia Foundation-style non-profit.


I would work on a Computer Algebra System. Maybe one day, who is to say.

That being said I'm pretty close to my dream job


That one can definitely be a hobby in the meantime.


I'll work on these:

(1) Convince car manufacturers to add a battery port in the trunk. They can make smaller cars with 100 mile range which covers >98%[2] of the trips and anyone who needs more can rent extra batteries from their nearest retailers. Fast chargers don't work, queueing theory explains why: What happens when you add a new teller? [0]. Fast chargers won't work because we have to solve for the peak case, which is a third of US population driving during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Spring break, etc. Cars with smaller batteries will be cheaper, lighter and far more importantly we can make 3X the cars from the same battery materials. There will be a lone commenter who will complain that EV doesn't work for him, because he commutes every week from Miami to Seattle, but EVs work for most people's driving habits.

(2) Convince retailers to build battery banks, they can charge for free (or get paid for charging when electricity prices go negative!) and (a) rent fully charge batteries (b) participate in virtual power plants replacing natural gas, they can make bank[1]. This also increases their foot traffic, most of the big retail chains operate gas stations anyways as loss leaders. Batteries for rent will be extremely profitable, in addition to adding foot traffic.

(3) Change residential building codes to require 240V outlets in the garage, heat pump water heater, heat pump furnace, induction stove, solar panels, or better yet solar shingles. Solar shingles are coming up, may not be cost effective today, but probably soon? Also make the main panel and circuitry future proof -- home can be powered by vehicle (V2H - no need to generator for emergencies) and also V2G so everyone can participate in VPP.[2] I've already started working on this.

(4) Change commercial (anything non-residential) building code to require conduit before paving parking lot. Doesn't need to add EV chargers, but that makes the parking lot future proof, can make 10%, 20% or 100% of it EV ready whenever.

With (3) and (4) all new construction is energy efficient, future proof. People who buy these homes can have zero energy bills as well as make money from VPP.

(5) Everyone complains about high home prices. We see spirited discussions on HN once or twice a week. Convince builders to build homes to standards (#3 above) that make the old homes entirely undesirable to most people. There can be a huge building boom (builders benefit from this), very low sales of old homes, stopping the growth of home prices. Convince people to stop buying old homes.

(6) Work with cities on providing free charging at schools, parks, libraries and all city owned infrastructure.

(7) Work with HOAs/communities to build chargers in HOA managed parks, these are 10 - 100x more than city parks.

(8) Put shareholder resolutions to make companies either offer (a) fully remote (b) free charging.

(9) Put shareholder resolutions at Restaurants and Retailers to offer free charging. This is a win-win, they get high quality foot traffic, traffic that stays at least 30 mins.

I'm in my 40s, I think these are important and solvable problems, nothing more I'd love than working on these. Better yet, teach the younger generation on how to work on these. We can't change the world by thinking about fossil fuel led COP summits, Govts, but we can change by making decisions on where we live, work and shop. Gradually, then suddenly, everything will change for the better.

[0] https://www.johndcook.com/blog/2008/10/21/what-happens-when-... [1] https://electrek.co/2023/07/05/tesla-electric-customers-repo... [2] 98 percent of all single-trip journeys were under 50 miles in length: https://www.greencarcongress.com/2022/03/more-than-half-of-a...


i'm young, and want to help work on these, how can i get started? (i'm currently 28 and have been working as a software engineer for 4 years)


Thank you! Would love any help! Email on my profile. I am currently working with a few high/middle school kids, so they can start working on building codes.


I’d build race cars.


Making even more money, of course.

Just look to your VC darlings, how many of them "don't need money"? By definition, all of them, and yet, what are they spending their time on? Making even more money, of course.

HN really is a cesspit of financial pillaging apologists...


Based on what I’ve been passing the time doing post-layoff? Cooking and making music.

I wouldn’t contribute much on a greater scale, I’d just be happy making art in my immediate community, and making food for my family and friends.


Farming. Live on a small farm and WFH. Too often I don't even leave the house and even in better work/balance times I seem to get an hour or 2 a day in the shed/paddocks maximum.

When/if I get to FIRE I'll be farm focused.


There’s brutal war two countries over, and if one falls, the war is coming here. I can’t stop taking care of my family, but not a day passes without me wondering if bread on the table today is more important than preparing to stop Russia tomorrow.


You can calm down, there is absolutely no way the Russians are coming for you. Turn off the TV and enjoy time with your family.


I would work on improving HaikuOS.


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