Suggestion: Fully Utilize the Internet to Solve Human Problems
I keep coming back to this idea over the years. I want something I can’t find on the net: a visual interactive map of human problems and where we are along the various paths to best current solutions. It would be a basic human right to access it, to interact, add to it, vote on it, and it would need real working security to keep that voting legitimate. Everyone could zoom in on any problem to see the edge technology with details explained so any person, say with a basic high school education, could understand it.
There are already starts on this system, for example, the Grand Challenges for Engineering as determined by a committee of the National Academy of Engineering.
- Make solar energy economical
- Provide energy from fusion
- Develop carbon sequestration methods
- Manage the nitrogen cycle
- Provide access to clean water
- Restore and improve urban infrastructure
- Advance health informatics
- Engineer better medicines
- Reverse-engineer the brain
- Prevent nuclear terror
- Secure cyberspace
- Enhance virtual reality
- Advance personalized learning
- Engineer the tools of scientific discovery
Find out what committee members said about the challenges at the news conference where they were unveiled.
There are many other areas that must be covered, however. Health, wealth (resource allocation) and wisdom (religion, ethics, education) seem to be good general categories.
Will we, as a whole species, ever use the tools we now have to work together to make all of our lives better?
This idealistic idea of a human problems tool presupposes an intelligent reality-based populace. People tend to think short-term, emotionally and selfishly. Without informed discernment, listed problems in the system would risk being trivial and irrelevant to our long term species survival.
The web site Change.org has many petitions for change. A quick look at the site shows that over 3 million people have signed a “Petition to make Kobe Bryant the new NBA Logo” and that there are many other petitions, for example, for individuals wronged by the justice system.
While useful, these aren’t getting at what I envision. An effective human problems tool would address core issues that let each of these wrongs occur. People would pay attention and change would really happen. The web sites Debate.org and Kialo.com have useful details in various debates and something like these should be linked to something like the petition site.
These sites are underutilized. There are many more people clicking “like” buttons on Twitter and Facebook, but these social media platforms do not encourage viewing multiple sides of each issue, nor resolving disagreements. To vote on the human problems site I envision, you would have to read through the debate for that topic first, ensuring you are informed.
Informed Debaters / Voters
Unfortunately, there are some points in these debates that will not make sense because people do not understand the science or other foundations of the points being made, and because they do not understand logical fallacies.
Therefore, the map of human problems site would require that you pass a course on logical fallacies and that you learn what is known about a topic first, to understand the debate points. It could be made into a fun game-type system, where you earn points, or whatever. This way each person could enter an informed vote. Unfortunately, with educational information being filtered and slanted by those with specific agendas, the whole system is still broken.
The Education System Inputs
Everyone needs the power to examine what is being taught in courses and to challenge it with those challenges being viewable by students as part of what they are learning. For this not to be a terrible idea that could be corrupted, it requires working digital security that is free from undue influence, to allow any one individual, any person with the most useful or correct answer, to be seen by all. The input to the educational information would also need to be linked to the debate system.
Checks and Balances
It’s a complicated system but one that may be required due to the reality that we are human, corruptible, and that our views differ widely on the truth.
If you remove checks and balances from any one part of the system, corruption creeps in and grows, so it needs to be constructed with an interlocking system of checks and balances. When any part of the system gets broken, the seriousness of that small break needs to be understood for what it is, sometimes a threat to the entire way of truth.
This is my “science fiction” idea, but it could be done with existing technology. It is also a look at how an alien system of self-governance may be run, and perhaps, one day, how our species could have a revolution of relevant action, where we spend our resources with much more mindfulness.
Published originally on Jun 21, 2014. Updated on Jun 23, 2020.
a lot of human and environmental based problems and solutions are already ‘mapped’ by governments in europe… Voting granularity is provided by the ability to opt in (or sometimes opt out) of particular choices in solution options…. What you seem to be asking for is socilism.
Hi Oliver. Are any of these maps something I can see right now? I want to visualize the whole mass of human problems as a 3D structure. Is work to agree upon what we as a species need and what we will consider “progress” the work of socialism? Is it a threatening thing, this map I propose? I’m very curious why no map of human problems already exists. Perhaps you nailed it: People only care locally. That’s fine, but I still want, for my own educational use, this model to examine, to watch. I may have to build it myself. Hope not.
This is a starting point, subsets are published in various ways periodically, often with maps and charts, in addition there are government sites that provide the ‘solutions’ end to go along with the statistics available at this site.
Yes it would be nice to have everything combined neatly and in a browsable manner, that is a slightly separate issue that is in the process of being resolved, the issue that data access is limited to certain groups of people, though again this is more or less, if not completely resolved, pending collation of that data in a usable format… one example would be publication of twitter data
Great! Thank you very much, a great start. The statistics UK data-scape there is very similar to what I envision, but it needs another consistent layer before the publications layer; it needs an “issues” layer. Issues/problems give the reasons for the topics which contain them and focus the publications. I’d like all other sites like this I can find, to merge them into a graphical navigable entity. People have done the work, it just needs to be packaged in a visually enjoyable and wildly useful tool.
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