1) We're going to build the next Facebook!
2) We're going to found the next Apple!
3) Our product will create sweeping political change! This will produce a major economic revolution in at least one country! (Seasteading would be change on this level if it worked; creating a new country successfully is around the same level of change as this.)
4) Our product is the next nuclear weapon. You wouldn't want that in the wrong hands, would you?
5) This is going to be the equivalent of the invention of electricity if it works out.
6) We're going to make an IQ-enhancing drug and produce basic change in the human condition.
7) We're going to build serious Drexler-class molecular nanotechnology.
8) We're going to upload a human brain into a computer.
9) We're going to build a recursively self-improving Artificial Intelligence.
10) We think we've figured out how to hack into the computer our universe is running on.
My startup, http://automicrofarm.com/, rates between a 3 and a 5, depending on how successful it becomes, in my opinion.
Anyone else got 3 or higher?
I have a drug that could massively raise the IQ of the world's population, in total more than the power of all the world's computers combined. And it costs only a couple pennies per person per year.
For everyone reading this, it's already far far too late. I've been compiling some of the child & adult iodine studies into a little meta-analysis: http://www.gwern.net/Nootropics#iodine
Current conclusion: for 13+ year olds, the effect size is (95% CI) -0.11 to 0.29. Yes, we can't even rule out that iodine is harmful to adults.
The trick is to be one of the Barons when networks are becoming widespread, and not an early innovator who gets in the history books but dies penniless. (Again fits with the railroad analogy.)
(And yes, trusted computation [DRM] as it is practiced now is bad, in the way that many things only possessed by only the powerful are also bad.)
A great sign for this idea, is that it gets pooh-poohed and shouted down, particularly by people who don't even hear the entire thing and just pattern match the security part. The idea that DRM can be useful and beneficial to society as a whole is precisely "What You Can't Say" for large swathes of the tech community and even more mainstream society.
Now, it's a console with some good games, but I wouldn't rate it as equivalent in social impact to electricity or nuclear weapons.
A real computing device (I'd accept tablets, but really, enterprise desktops and especially servers) would be entirely different.
What I really care about is servers which can be trusted to be "fair" by all parties -- server operators, software operators, and end users. There is absolutely nothing like that today, and it's impossible without trusted computing. It's unclear if trusted computing itself is feasible (it's theoretically possible).
If it works, we end up with Vernor Vinge's _True Names_
Edit: It's not a drug - but it will, imho, produce a change in the basic human condition, if/when implemented.
He's probably talking about an idea similar to the H+ neural implant (http://www.youtube.com/user/HplusDigitalSeries).
It's a nano device that is injected into or around your spine/brain, and after a week it learns how to interface with your body.
Then it links out to the network and you can do all the things that we can do now online, except it's all in your head.
Funny, considering I'm a strong proponent of "ideas are nothing, execution is everything"...
I don't mean to sound down on the idea- I'm sure it could work out great. But come on.
More information about the idea there.
Count me interested! As long as it doesn't involve entomophagy... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entomophagy
A cool Maker-type article on how to build your own setup (it looks like the AutoMicroFarm may be loosely based on this):
I know someone in Campbell who is playing with this stuff, and he's sent me tons of links that I can share here if people are really interested.
* 3 and 4 are really on the same level, just interchangeable
* 6 should really be an 8 or a 9, since it enables 7, 8 and perhaps 9
* the whole scale should be expanded so that 2-10 become 11-20, and 1 becomes e.g. a weekend hack that can bring in enough revenue to buy me a new toy every once in a while.
* While 3) and 4) both create sweeping political changes, 4) is decidedly scarier owing to the sheer destructive power. 3) encompasses positive change as well.
* 6) may enable 7), 8) and perhaps 9), but is less ambitious in that it doesn't seek to bring those frighteningly ambitious ideas into reality (it only possibly enables them).
Would love to have a nano tank like the one you describe. Please keep us posted.
1) Open Google Reader http://www.google.com/reader
2) click the red "Subscribe" button
3) paste the rss url from your site's sidebar http://blog.automicrofarm.com/rss
4) click "Add"
5) GReader says "You have subscribed to 'AutoMicroFarm Blog. ... "AutoMicroFarm Blog" has no items'
As far as blight and mold, those problems have been identified and solved with greenhouse and hydroponics growing. The key to these problems and other diseases is to make it easy to prevent, or failing that, treat those diseases. But again, this is a solved problem.
Least I can do is add myself to your mailing list...
Time for a career change.
It only takes one genius to change the world, but it turns out that one genius tends to produce many changes (cf Einstein // Lord kelvin // Faraday)
I just can't imagine thinking "Well, I voted. That's the best I can do."
- you could try to change career, become a renowned research scientist and invent number 3-8 on the Yudkowsky Ambition scale, but ...
You are just one person, probably without the right inclinations to be a world class researcher (or frankly you would have become one, it would have been an irristable calling)
So a more worthwhile use of your time and effort would be as part of a co-ordinated effort to select, support and reward a world wide network of inter-dependant researchers, and then layers of secondary innovators and implementors who in totality will bring the benefits of scientific progress to all humanity.
They also serve who stand and insist politicians use
empirical based testing to validate their spending on
Used to joke with my friends about this, as the most ambitious goal of any rational entity in maximizing the existence utility function.
"Happiness" etc are human factors, while obviously relevant to us now, and may not exist down the line.
Co-operative existence models of super massive intelligent entities (like Matrioshka brains), could equally end up being dominant vs 'last man standing' scenarios. But at least in LMS (which of course we are not fans of), there is no doubt as to the eventual outcome.
Consider just the challenge of defeating the obesity epidemic. Better diet improves energy and massively increases, again at the population level, the amount of raw thoughtful hours are available to a country.
This is even more widely applicable in global health where health initiatives can also be important components of social change. Women's/sexual health is tied deeply to women's rights which is a leading indicator for social revolution.
While medical breakthrough that change the space of healthcare at large might be rare, there's a lot of room instead for the kind of breakthrough which changes how people receive and are impacted by the healthcare knowledge we already have today.
For that, you'd have to think seriously big - doubling our expected lifespan is important, but it wouldn't bring that much of a change in our planet. A significantly improved homo sapiens species may qualify. Or a way to keep us going on forever - permanently fixing or replacing our bodies. Or a way to "upload" skills to brains, matrix-style.
6 is not making the current condition slightly more bearable - it's transferring us to a radically different state.
The internet has affected global GDP a lot, but almost entirely in the "moving numbers around in a database" fields, with all the profit ending up in the pockets of a few hundred hyperrich. (high finance, entertainment)
Normally, you can glaze over such a case, but the internet is basically filled with this kind of thing. Moreover, a lot of the stuff that you would normally have to pay for, you get effectively for free, and I'm not talking about pirated movies. I mean the collaboration, fact-checking, knowing of more options, info you'd normally need to buy a book for, etc. Again, cash payments for that stuff might have dropped, but it made people that much better off.
So if people that were doing things obviated by the Web, then go start doing something different, then, well "GDP is GDP" -- but that is a massive efficiency improvement.
I don't know about human lifespans or manufacturing output (though the widening collaboration opportunity increases the number of people that can solve foundational manufacturing problems), but that's only one of many human values, and I think it's an artificial requirement to compare to electricity on that basis -- almost like penalizing it because it didn't enable better hunting of large animals.
So stepping back to the level of human welfare and modes of life it enables, I think the Web is comparable to electricity.
Here's an informal measure: what does the technology do to the "quaintness" of (non-sci-fi) stories composed before it? After electricity, you might look at a book with a plot element "character can't work at night", and scoff at how backward it is.
Does the Web do something similar? I'd say it does a lot more. Per Steven Landsburg, there was a novel written in '91 (right at the Web's infancy) with plot elements like "someone is endlessly searching bookstores to find an obscure book" and "someone sells expensive encyclopedias to people with a tremendous demand for easy access to knowledge" -- very, very quaint from today's perspective.
(Novel was called, IIRC, "Hunters and Gatherers")
I think it would be good for my blood pressure to find a place where people don't equate "changing the world!" with "finding a new way to sell socks on the internet!"
Maybe we should create one?
Of course, you could argue that anyone who can return non-negligible amounts of mass to earth makes it to 4...
How about the web?
I'd say that's a fairly fundamental change for humanity.
Not sure someone with that kind of access will need seed funding with YCombinator or anywhere else. Unless their hack is unproven and unreliable, and up for immediate rejection.