Some questions I’ve been thinking about recently. Get in touch with any relevant links or thoughts!
Climate and nature
- What is the appropriate way for nations and corporations to prioritize cutting emissions across greenhouse gases with different lifetimes? Is there a single emission metric that I can get behind? (GWP-100 isn’t it!)
- Will nuclear energy (fission or fusion!) become prominent on a timeframe that is relevant to preventing runaway global warming and biosphere collapse?
- How many tonnes of annual carbon removal will actually be happening in 2030? Will available funding be captured by low-additionality but cheap approaches, or will integrity prevail?
- Assuming we manage to stop harming the biosphere, how long will it take natural ecosystems to recover? Which ones will be lost forever?
- Will unilateral geoengineering happen, when and by whom, and will we know? (Has it already?)
- Should Indonesia move its political capital to a new city in Kalimantan? (No.)
- Who will win Indonesia’s 2024 presidential election, and in what ways will it matter?
- What is holding Indonesia back from stronger economic growth and are those barriers solvable?
AI and industry
- How long will the current scaling paradigm for transformer-based LLMs continue to improve? How close can this get us to AGI?
- Is AI alignment solvable, if so will it be solved, and to what extent are we doomed?
- What’s the probability of a scenario where AI fundamentally changes the relationship between labor and capital, leading to locked-in economic inequality and UBI for the masses? If that happens, how bad would it be to be in the masses, and what’s the cutoff?
- Are we, as some claim, on the verge of a new industrial/atoms renaissance? If so, how should I react to that?
- What’s the future of higher education, and what should the relationship be between researchers and professors?
- How can we reform the vetocracy? Is this an inexorable symptom of American decline?
- Is there any hope for international bodies like the UN to be functional, efficient, non-corrupt, etc? There are bright spots but the overall picture is bleak.
Fertility, family, children
- Is the fertility crisis actually a problem, and if so is it solvable?
- How can I spend more time with the children of my family and friends, and be a positive presence in their lives?
- How can I raise my own (hypothetical future) children in a way that is consonant with my values and desires?
- What has caused the immense increase in obesity? To what extent is the Chemical Hunger hypothesis true? (see criticism here and here).
- Do various highly restrictive diets (potatos, exfat 150, carnivore, etc) actually work long-term for weight loss and overall health for most people?
- Why is there so much heterogeneity in which diets work well? Some theories: genetics, unobserved environmental variables (eg microbiome or chemical pollutant exposure), rampant lying or bad tracking…
- Sheer physical endurance – how many hours in a day can you work on your main focus – seems to be an important factor in success, at least in some fields. (Note the anecdotal correlation between business success and endurance recreation like marathon running and ironman competitions.) Is this genetic? Are there meaningful interventions?
- Nicotine seems to be a powerful nootropic with limited side effects. Are there differences in its effects based on delivery mechanism?
- Why is looking at fractal patterns (trees, aerial views of river deltas) so pleasing?
- Will technology extend human lifespans substantially beyond 100 years? If so will this come from a single breakthough or a layering of many efforts? Will it happen in my lifetime?
- When will we send people back to the Moon? To Mars? When will there be permanent settlement outside of Earth’s orbit? Will humanity actually become a multiplanetary civilization?
Navel gazing, mundanity
- To what extent do I have an accurate sense of how I’m percieved by other people?
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