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

Requests for Collaboration

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!

  1. Privacy-oriented software - Private money, messaging, computation, and storage. Importance of privacy will become even more obvious with brain-computer interfaces and personalized AI models. Sequence and secure your own genomic data.

  2. Regional corporations - Mondragon is an 80,000+ person network of industrial co-ops in the Basque Country that makes $13B every year. The TVA was set up to modernize and revitalize the Tennessee Valley via electricity and other technologies. RUPCO was created to house Hudson Valley residents. More companies should pick a community and make regional prosperity part of their mission.

  3. Nuclear - Unlock energy abundance. Reverse climate change by making electricity too cheap to meter. Solar, wind, storage, fission, and fusion all have roles to play. Reform the NRC, streamline licensing for microreactors (and GW scale reactors), and reverse the negative narrative about nuclear power.

  4. 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.

  5. Ultra-low GWP refrigerants and recycling - 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. Farming beyond food production - Farms as community hubs, rural third spaces. Incentivize agriculture that is good for the land—tree crops and silvopasture. Fund and celebrate plant breeding programs for extra diversity and regional resilience. New land conservation organizations.

  9. Prestigious, specialized, non-linear adult education - Kids should not wait until they have a college degree to start working, and we should go to college more than once. 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. It should be routine to spend a year in school every 5-10 years to focus on learning a new domain.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Single-purpose devices - Code without being distracted by social media feeds. More personal devices like Kindle, Teenage Engineering. No notifications or GDPR popups. Fewer internet-connected toasters. New computers and AI-integrated hardware.

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

  16. Cryptographic identity - We should have far wider reaching usage of cryptographic keys in everyday software, especially for authorization and proofs of digital content or activity. More secure than user-entered passwords and easier for developers. As an example, I've signed the content on this page with an ed25519 key provably linked with my Farcaster account. Verify it here.

  17. AI-enabled simulations for social science - Run large-scale simulations using LLMs instead of conventional economic agents. Emergent, chaotic models for human behavior. Create synthetic versions of real populations by prompting LLMs with demographic info and backstories (read Generative Agents paper).

  18. Hire and elect user researchers and engineers in government - Especially on a local level, government efficacy seems to depend on understanding your community, assessing needs, and designing good systems. Government programs need better UX, and on the local level we should hire more full-time employees and depend less on volunteers. More agencies and task forces, fewer committees.

  19. Rural, walking-friendly districts - Rural communities should encourage dense, walking-friendly housing developments. More eco-districts, like Freiburg.

  20. AI capable of deep work - AI agents capable of extremely sophisticated software engineering, financial research, and new scientific discoveries. Train for reasoning and creativity.

  21. Agrivoltaics - Co-locate solar and agriculture. Calibrate solar panels to provide beneficial shade to crops. Encourage farms to become food and energy producers.

  22. AI models that use computers - Train AI models to use UIs designed for humans. We're using self-driving cars without building new roads, so we should be able to automate all computer work without creating APIs for every piece of software. Conversely, we should have more software designed just for AIs.

  23. Hudson Valley startups - I think the Hudson Valley is a special place and want it to grow. The best way for a region to grow long-term is by starting great companies.

  24. More Requests for Collaboration - A few friends have written similar documents, and they're always a joy to read and think about. More people should think expansively about what they're excited to pursue and write it down.