“It’s because I haven’t courage,” said Samuel. “I could never quite take the responsibility. When the Lord God did not call my name, I might have called His name – but I did not. There you have the difference between greatness and mediocrity. It’s not an uncommon disease. But it’s nice for a mediocre man to know that greatness must be the loneliest state in the world.” – East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Maybe I’m humble.
However my humility is not complete.
Maybe it’s hubris.
I think I’m great.
But that can be dangerous.
In Crime and Punishment “Raskolnikov justifies his actions by comparing himself with Napoleon Bonaparte, believing that murder is permissible in pursuit of a higher purpose.” He thinks he is destined for greatness and that all he needs is to do one act to get him started, but it turns out much different than he imagined…
Or maybe I’m just lazy.
Truth is I don’t have a clue and could probably come up with several thousands of excuses.
It is not that I don’t care.
I just don’t think about it.
Honestly I am a bit frayed when it comes to problem solving. Sometimes I just want to relax and let things be the way they are and not worry about “fixing” things.
Obviously that doesn’t help with real problems that need to be solved, but I’ve never really considered myself to be the one to solve them.
Did Steve Jobs ever really say “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”? And while I’m at it, does it matter who says any famous quotes? Is not the truth the truth regardless of the source? Or does the source make something more true? Or maybe the source makes it more meaningful?
I have never thought I could change the world.
But I do.
The difference being: on what scale?
I believe all of our lives matter, that we each have significance, and that we have purpose and meaning to our lives. What we do and how we treat other people we are around are just as world changing as solving overarching world issues. They just might not be as glamorous.
Encouraging others and showing kindness might not make magazine or newspaper headlines, however it may mean the world to someone. It might impact them so deeply that they do go on to do the big things the world needs. It takes a village.
We are all interdependent.
For Day 103 of Claudia Altucher’s book Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency Of The 21st Century: I get to come up with 10 World problems that can be solved by technology and what is the next step.
These topics carry some heavy political ramifications, however my aim is to show what people can do without specific governmental involvement. That doesn’t mean the government will allow it, just that we are not necessarily relying on them to solve our problems for us.
That said, the first topic is extremely politically related:
A) Proliferation Of Nuclear Weapons
The authority over who is able to build and possess these dangerous objects is hotly contested. The technology I would consider that might help stop the proliferation would be some sort of high security software protecting the “how to build” the weapons.
However even if we stop this specific type of weapon from spreading, that does not change the root cause of people wanting to protect themselves by destroying others.
It would be necessary to upgrade defense technology as a precaution against those who do not agree to stop producing the nuclear weapons.
Perhaps there is a way to neutralize the effects of fallout radiation, although this would not help those located directly at the site of the blast.
John Hersey’s Hiroshima paints a vivid picture of the human impact from the use of nuclear weapons.
B) Armed Conflict
As previously stated, ending violence does not happen easily. The reasons are legion for armed conflict. And ending armed conflict does not put an end to conflict. There have been plenty of instances of domestic violence carried out without the assistance of anything more than the human body.
What ways could technology help?
Although peace and respect don’t come easy, perhaps technology that helped maintain clear boarders on territory to prevent conflicts; however there is always disputed territory…
Maybe something broader like a technology education program that teaches about why peace and respect are worthy of striving after. But then again that assumes people want to stop or change…
C) Spread Of Infectious Disease
This one I would like to see technology that eases the diagnostic process for infectious disease. Think you have the flu? Find out at home. No need to go to the hospital.
With this and other diseases there needs to be a low cost low tech device, maybe similar to a blood glucose monitor. But it would be easier if it worked with urine rather than blood. That would eliminate the need for needles.
Speaking of peeing on things to get results…
D) The Increasing Global Population
The world has a problem sustaining and adequately providing for the more than 7.2 billion people and counting that currently occupy this planet.
I had a sociology professor lament on how the population will continue to grow but in a harmful way of adding areas with populations that will exist in undesirable conditions.
Stopping the birth of humans can come in all flavors of political control.
Although education of the issue might help, I don’t think that will solve the problem.
Perhaps technology won’t solve this problem. A change in a cultures values, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations does not happen overnight, nor does technology assist directly in these changes. The hearts and minds of people are probably closer to the root of this issue than computers…
E) Availability Of Energy
The clear technology fix for this one is the development of sustainable energy sources and the reduction of reliance on energy in general. Transitions from incandescent and CFL bulbs to LED light bulbs will be one type of reduction in energy usage. The key will be determining similar ways to do this with other energy dependent devices.
To make energy more available perhaps some technology could be developed that would transport or transmit the energy in a more cost effective way.
Whatever the case is and however unlikely, I think it is a good idea to have a basic level of skills that can be performed independent of technology not only for worse case scenarios but also in the event of basic outages.
F) International Terrorism
I want to take a brief moment of aside here before I address the issue of terrorism.
I think it is pretentious to think some of these problems can actually be “solved”. They are not math problems, they are human life problems.
Terrorism will never be fully stopped.
Anyone could potentially be a threat to anyone at any time.
Later I’ll talk about hunger, but as long as life exists, the need to feed oneself will exist and so hunger will remain. We can probably do things to reduce the severity of these issues but they will never go away.
What technology can help with terrorism?
What freedoms and rights to privacy are you willing to part with in hopes of a false sense of safety?
Catch up is the name of the game it seems in these cases. Everything makes more sense in hindsight.
Perhaps the solution is not so much the prevention of terrorism, but the reduction of press and attention given to such events…
But who would be brave enough to stop listening and watching all the bad news?
They’ve spent billions ensuring you tune in and turn it up and keep it locked on.
But what does it do for you?
Does it improve your life to hear about shootings, bombings, beheadings, fires, destruction and death?
If the answer is yes, by all means continue to watch.
As for me I am struggling to tune out and turn off because it never makes my day better.
G) The Economic Situation
Here is how the economic situation can be improved: people take a more active role in their own lives.
Stop being a spectator and letting things happen to you. Stop waiting for others and having hope and expectations in a world that is no longer the same as it used to be. In fact it has always been changing.
In part see above. We should help people take care of themselves.
Just because someone starts poor does not mean they have to always be or end that way.
As for the other bad situations faced by the poor, it would be best to do what we can to reduce the unhealthy conditions. It has been said, “The poor you will always have with you”, but that does not mean we do not have a responsibility to care for both the physical and spiritual needs of those less fortunate. This statement describes the reality of the situation, but it does not describe how life ought to be.
A technological advancement that could help with this is providing a network that people can access to better share resources. Perhaps an app linking groups in need to groups who have a desire to give.
I don’t have any unique solutions to the hunger issue. I will mention two organizations that work towards helping with this problem:
A organization with a similar goal is Heifer International.
A technology that allows these charities (and others) to voluntarily publicize their current supply levels and supply chain locations might allow them to work together to better attain their goals.
J) Lack Of Drinking Water
Some facts about the situation, from http://www.walk-4-water.org/the-facts/ :
“1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly one in eight of the world’s population. 3.4 million people die each year from a water-related disease due to lack of clean water.”
“Every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness. That’s over 4,000 child deaths every day.”
“98 percent of water-related deaths occur in the developing world.”
“About 2 in 3 people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 per day, with 1 in 3 living on less than $1.”
“The average North American uses 158.5 gallons of water a day (13 gallons in just flushing toilets). The average person in the developing world uses 2.5 gallons a day for drinking, washing and cooking.”
“An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country’s slum uses in a whole day.”
“The average weight of water women in Africa carry on their heads is 40 pounds, roughly equivalent to the average airport checked luggage allowance.”
Walk-4-Water wants to change this by getting people involved to help solve the problem.
Another organization is LifeSaver: working to end water poverty.
Samaritans Purse also has WATER PROJECTS.
Lastly the Drinkable Book.
Again an app that allows these charities (and others) to voluntarily publicize their current supply levels and supply chain locations might allow them to work together to better attain their goals.
It would be like a super-charity!
K) Lack of Toilets
This is serious.
It goes beyond just a desire for comfort when relieving oneself.
“Lack of toilets dangerous for everyone” says UNICEF.
What can technology bring to the bathroom?
I don’t know but there is opportunity here for something to help make the world a better place to poop.
I don’t have a clue on what to do to solve world problems but I hope these organizations can be a place we can all contribute to in order to help in part to make the world a better place.
P.S. Want to know who influenced me the most?
I will give you a hint, one was James Altucher.
When reading Conspire To Inspire, you will find out why I chose to feature him along with eight other prominent people.
The story will tell how I discovered them, and why you should care.
Don’t believe me? Find out for yourself by joining me to Conspire to Inspire.
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