My 12 favorite problems

May 14, 2021

When I first thought about starting this site and beginning to write on the internet I wondered what to write about. Would I be a site about just one thing, like the Metaverse, or a general site about a variety of things? Which is more effective? Which do I want to do regardless of effectiveness? 

I clearly settled on writing about a variety of topics that are interesting to me, and yet sometimes writers struggle to come up with what to write. 

But I learned a concept that has really helped establish a foundation for my intellectual life and writing, the idea of 12 Favorite Problems, first popularized by Richard Feynman.  

“You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, ‘How did he do it? He must be a genius!” Richard Feynman

So I spent some time and wrote down my 12 Favorite Problems, a few months back. This week I wrote a second version of that list. It’s worth periodically checking in on the list and rewriting it every few months to every year or so. 

Some of the 12 problems below are things I’ve always thought about and will probably always be working on. Some are things I’ve already spent considerable time on, some are new pursuits. 

One of them may become the central concept around which I build a future business. For now though, they are the 12 things I often think about and am currently researching.

My 12 favorite problems

  • 🌐☯ How do we make an amazing virtual life (the Metaverse) and balance that with an amazing real life?
  • 💻🤖 What happens when the computers take over, how do we move to Universal Basic Income and make it acceptable to everyone? 
  • 🏙️🏘️ What is the future of cities, how do we design sustainable, livable cities that incorporate the best aspects of small communities?
  • 🌿👨‍💻 How do we combine the best aspects of ancestral living with modern, techno-utopian concepts? 
  • 🏴🏳️ What comes after nation-states?
  • 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 How do we effectively make digital communities that become real physical communities. How do we go beyond cohort based courses and make real tribes.
  • 🎨🎶 How can I make art a lifelong pursuit?
  • 🎓🏫 What is the ideal education system?
  • 💪💸What does being a successful entrepreneur mean to me?
  • ~How can I make money doing interesting things I’m good at? 
  • ~How can I convert my writing into awesome projects, clients, businesses? 
  • ~What's the best way for me to break into and make money in the video game industry?
  • ⚖ ☮ how do I achieve balance in my life? 
  • ~make space for my goals and learning + work + exercise
  • ~Routines? Ebbs and flows? College style?
  • 🔬📚 What role does sci-fi play in actually building a new future?
  • 🎮🎥 What’s the value of entertainment? Is it ok to work in the entertainment industry, does that have value?

I probably have another 5-10 ideas that kick around in my brain at any point in time. Some are extremely interesting, but either too hard to solve, or just not urgent enough to worry about at this precise moment like if there are aliens, where are they? And what’s the best way to colonize Mars? And what happens when no one believe in god anymore?

Maybe one of those ideas will graduate up to the top 12 in a future iteration of the list, but for now they’re relegated to the fringe. 

These 12 ideas outlined here are the things I’ll focus on, research, and write about. 

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