The Prologue and the Promise by Robert McCall (with McCall in the foreground)

Requests for Collaboration

Last updated: June 15, 2022

This is a rough, unordered list of themes and ideas I'm interested in contributing to. I expect them all (individually and collectively) to make the future more exciting and good. If you're working on any of these or they pique your interest, please reach out! DM me on Twitter or email me.

  1. 21st century utopia - Utopian movements need a refresh. Integrated with nature and tech-forward, "forward to the land." Re-embodiment, the opposite of the corporate metaverse. Related to my solarpunk research. Seeking visions for the future that are worth building.

  2. Speculation-free crypto - Underneath all the garbage, crypto is deeply inspiring and liberating—unstoppable, decentralized money. Make crypto subversive and punk again. Local currency projects, crypto as money.

  3. Privacy-oriented software - Private money, messaging, and storage. How can you enable people to drop out of or "exit" the status quo without privacy? Make it easier for people to stop paying taxes.

  4. Resilient software - Self-hosting, local-first patterns. Software that is designed for low connectivity environments. What's the right level of personal cloud dependence?

  5. Open source, low-tech hardware - I'm inspired by cosmo-localism—design globally, produce locally. What hardware products can fit this design? Make more products easy to repair. Open Source Ecology.

  6. Industrial co-ops - Mondragon is an 80,000+ person network of industrial co-ops that makes $13B every year. Small town industrialism is an economic and spiritual boon for communities, read Arthur Morgan and study Yellow Springs, OH. How do we jumpstart many more Mondragons all over the world? If supply chains struggle, how do we build more local factories, especially in rural communities?

  7. Nuclear - Unlock energy abundance, ease the regulatory burden. Microreactors, fusion, DIY nuclear.

  8. Heat pumps - I've gone very deep on heat pumps and have even built my own air-to-water system from scratch. Every building in the world will need fossil fuel-free heating and cooling. High temperature, CO2-powered heat pumps will replace boilers in many cases. We'll need novel, super cheap cooling options too.

  9. Ultra-low GWP refrigerants - The only non-flammable, non-toxic, ultra-low GWP refrigerant is CO2, but it's very high pressure and has a low critical point. What's a synthetic alternative with 0 GWP and 0 ODP? Is it safe to de-regulate use of propane as a refrigerant? Increase recovery/recycling rate of existing high-GWP refrigerants.

  10. Engineering-focused Waldorf education - I went to a Waldorf School from K-8. It was great, and I'm inspired by the Hawthorne Valley school near me. Can we do Waldorf with more of an engineering track? Less eurythmy, more shop class and physics.

  11. Anti-prep high school - Trade schools, flexible graduation criteria. What does high school look like if it's not trying to get kids into prestigious colleges by getting good grades and padding their resumes?

  12. Airships and electric airplanes - Every Kim Stanley Robinson book features an epic airship journey. Airship freight, nature tours, less dependence on highways and rail. Airships aren't practical, but they are romantic.

  13. Rewilding - Let nature do its thing in more cases. I'm not necessarily a Half Earther, but there's something in between E.O. Wilson's vision and where we are now. After moving to a rural community in 2021, I spend a lot more time outside. Nature is awesome.

  14. Future of farms - What's the 21st century version of Jefferson's yeoman farmer? Farms can be societal hubs, providing food, energy, gathering places, and housing. Expand the scope of community-supported agriculture.

  15. Biodigesters and biowaste power plants - Low-tech, cheap machines for harvesting energy from waste and encouraging a more circular economy. Help farms and waste managers supply energy. Burning biogas still emits CO2, but it's better than releasing methane. Cheap, convenient source of fertilizer.

  16. Brain-computer interfaces - Speech, writing, etc are all lossy. What does higher fidelity communication feel like? Ever realized you're thinking in more dimensions than you're speaking or writing? Great for medical applications and creativity.

  17. Sail boats - Sailing is awesome, let's do more of it and encourage post-carbon freight/logistics. Sea level rise will expand water culture. Hundred Rabbits. More floating neighborhoods, like Amsterdam's Schoonschip.

  18. Prestigious, specialized, non-linear adult education - It's crazy we only go to college once in our lives. I want a high quality place to go learn complex, academic topics (synthetic bio, atmospheric physics, etc) without thinking I'm going to waste time or money. More intellectual than bootcamps or trade schools.

  19. More optimistic sci-fi - Reading solarpunk sci-fi has changed and crafted my worldview for the better. Positive visions for the future in sci-fi are still rare. More climate fiction. Multimedia, sci-fi beyond film and books. Public imagination is self-fulfilling. Get more government officials reading and referencing sci-fi.

  20. Universal Basic Income projects - We're still lacking a large-scale UBI implementation. Let's change that. Crypto or local currencies may facilitate. Remember UBI is for everyone, not needs-based.

  21. Adaptation/refugee tech - Climate change will force widespread migration. What are the best ways to prepare for and facilitate mass movement? Incredibly cheap housing, high quality mobile homes, microgrids, fast agriculture, remote work.

  22. Drop out real estate holder - Co-op that owns large swaths of land for a new society. Similar to community land trusts. Seems like the best way to change the system is by co-owning a bunch of land. Rewilding, housing, farming, refugee camps all depend on land. Buy fossil fuel power plants and rewild them like Chernobyl.

  23. Keep kids off phones - Restaurants should ban kids that are pacified by iPads. Get kids outside, interacting with each other and nature, playing sports. More in-person programming and activities for kids that are more engaging and fulfilling than phones or tablets.

  24. Ultra rich teachers - Teachers should be rewarded based on the success of their students, ideally without the adverse selection problem of ISAs. Maybe a pot of money that is distributed to teachers according to the relative performance of their students. Avoid creating a popularity contest and figure out how to heavily reward the highest impact teachers. Teachers are essential to a rapidly changing world that forces adaptation and learning new things.

  25. Living buildings - Buildings seem incredibly dumb given their importance to society. The word "smart" in a home or building context (Nest and other IoT crap) is just corporate marketing. What are novel building materials or fabrication techniques? Can buildings adjust seasonally or literally grow over time like plants? Maximally passive climate control.

  26. Non-scammy carbon credits - Toucan, Klima, and existing carbon markets seem to be mostly fake. Tightly regulated carbon removal credits are promising. How can we make high quality carbon markets and is tokenizing credits on Ethereum a net benefit? How decentralied can credit registries become? Credits for destroying refrigerants.

  27. Geoengineering - Let's accept the fact that humans have permanently altered the atmosphere and start using our influence for good instead of pretending we only have the power to destroy the planet. Fund research for solar radiation management, glacier geoengineering, ocean fertilization, carbon mineralization, and more.

  28. Single-purpose devices - Code without being distracted by Twitter. More personal devices like Kindle, Teenage Engineering. No notifications. Fewer internet-connected toasters.

  29. New board games and in-person fun - Go outside and play Capture the Flag. Play board games with your friends, Terraforming Mars. New sports, adventure races, engineering challenges, cardboard boat races.

  30. Silvopasture and permaculture - Beautiful and effective. Agriculture that is good for the soil. Graze animals, experiment with aquaculture. Victory gardens.

  31. Slow travel - Airship rides, sailing trips, horses. Travel for adventure and discovery, go to space and other planets.

  32. Industrial labs and public research - More publicly-funded, non-academic researchers. Lots of labs to bring research into practice. More climate-focused industrial labs.

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