a reflection on humanity and tech.

we live in an imperfect world riddled with all sorts of problems (we are humans after all and being perfect is unreasonable). as a problem solver, I’ve come across the dilemma of the problems I want to solve - mainly working on impactful humanitarian issues or solving intellectually challenging technical problems.

while the two aren’t mutually exclusive, from a practical sense, working on things like low level virtual machines or low latency, high throughput distributed systems probably won’t be the innovations that ultimately solve issues like environmental catastrophe, homelessness, or crumbling economies. so question is - where do I focus my efforts?

personally, for me this is a really difficult question i’ve been trying to answer for quite a few years now. obviously, I want to pursue the route that leaves me most satisfied in life (I’m a bit of a utilitarian haha). working on humanitarian issues leaves me satisfied with improving the lives of so many but with the cost of potentially forgoing working with cutting edge technical work. and working technical problems achieves the opposite. i’ve spent my entire life to this point working with nonprofit organizations (i.e. radicubs, bits of good, & troop 4018) and it’s something I am truly passionate about but at the same time I am an engineer who will find myself spending hours upon hours reading about things like how we can build a zero knowledge proof-centered internet.

as it stands now, I don’t know where my future work will head - but life is short. I am already 20 and while for some it might be early, I know I want to maximize the time I am working on interesting and impactful problems. so what’s the plan? currently, do both.

high level, the current plan looks something like this:

step 1: work on a challenging technical problem (i.e. build next google)

step 2: profit??

step 3: use profit to work on and amplify the impact on humanitarian issue

step 4: eradicate humanitarian issue

but a part of me is stubborn - part of me believes that technically challenging problems can solve all sorts of issues. in fact, I am fully convinced that the solutions to some of the greatest humanitarian issues are in places that people never look (I will find a way to use compilers to solve environmental problems, someday!).

the current plan seperates my work with tech and humanity. my goal in life is to blend these two pathways together - as I grow older and more knowledgeable, I feel confident I can transform my current plan into something like this:

step 1: solve humanitarian issue using tech

step 2: profit??

step 3: build a positive feedback loop to use profit to amplify impact of tech to solve humanitarian issue

step 4: eradicate humanitarian issue

you might be thinking don’t companies already do this? and you are absolutely right; some do. but I’m ambitious and, for me, the issue is not only being able blend tech with humanitarian issues but to do this on a global scale. the real challenge is eradicating these issues entirely using technology through a self-sustaining, perrenial organization. step 4 in both plans is not to reduce the severity of a humanitarian issue - it’s to completely eradicate it and this step in particular is both intentional and paramount to the plan.

· tech, philosophy, humans