When I was in my late 20s, I realized that working in computers did not satisfy me. I had useful skills and some of the problems were interesting, but it was not fulfilling. I spent a couple of years exploring different paths.
Because of my wide experience and knowledge, I could have pursued business, multiple areas of computers, math, various sciences, and a few more fields. I had already experienced some fame, and I knew that celebrity would not make me happy. I had already experienced (relative) wealth when I had a high-paying job at 24 years old, so I knew that riches would not make me happy. I eventually realized that in every job and hobby I had ever had, I always gravitated to issues of fair treatment of other people. Through more soul searching, I discovered that the only way I would be fulfilled is if I lived a life dedicated to improving how we treat each other.
The items below all have a common theme: I want the world to be a safer, less violent, kinder, and happier place. If I were to heal, some categories I would want to work on:
Expanding access to education: if I could only accomplish one thing, it would be to have a substantial impact on access to education. In the history of the United States, expanding access to education has always lead to economic expansion, from colonial Massachusetts to the post-World-War-II G.I. Bill, education is the best way to improve economies and lives. Education has many other benefits: longer lives, more quality of life years, lower crime, fewer teenage pregnancies, lower healthcare costs, less juvenile delinquency, fewer sexually transmitted diseases, and more. We already pay the cost of not educating people: if we pay for more education, then we will dramatically lower our costs in many other areas.
Governance, law, ethics, and morality. Those topics are not synonymous, but they do overlap. I have dozens, if not hundreds of ideas in those realms, and I believe I can add valuable ideas to the discussions about how to improve our lives and how we treat each other.
Art. In recent years, media studies about body image has entered the mainstream. I have actively researched and explored this issue since at least 2003. I have already made notes for potentially thousands of art pieces that explore and expose our perceptions of “beauty”. I believe that I could use art (specifically photography) to contribute to body-positive attitudes.
How technology intersects with many areas of life. Because of my experience in many areas of computers and because I am science literate, I sometimes have an advantage when examining how technology impacts our lives, law, society, or other fields. Because of my experiences as a teacher, especially teaching computer repair to people without computer experience, I am often able to explain complex issues to people who do not have as much knowledge about computers and technology as I have. Law, in particular, has some absurd and bizarre understandings of computers and technology. With time, these factually-wrong ideas will be corrected, and I believe I can contribute to the discussions about those necessary changes.
How ideas and knowledge spread through society and how to foster the spread of ideas that improve our world and our lives. There are already many rich ideas here, especially in sociology, linguistics, and advertising. Much of the knowledge, however, is isolated within its field and I would especially like to integrate the research from various disciplines so that advocates can have practical tools for spreading good ideas. One of my favorite examples of a good idea that spread through society in a short time: opposition to slavery in the United States. Prior to the United States Civil War, a majority of the United States believed slavery was morally acceptable. Within 20 years, however, an overwhelming majority of people believed slavery was immoral. That is a fantastic transformation, and I would like to understand how those types of radical changes can be applied to issues such as state-sanctioned murder, science denial, gross limitations of liberty, bigoted oppression, and violence, especially violence against women.
Increasing access to healthcare. Research in extremely poor countries, especially in Africa, is unambiguous: if people do not have adequate access to healthcare, then all other attempts to improve will fail. It is impossible to build fair governments, strong economies, or educate people when they are too sick to be productive or if they must spend a lot of time caring for sick relatives and friends. Even in rich countries, especially the United States, the healthcare system can have serious problems. The United States spends significantly more per capita on healthcare but notoriously has a healthcare system that is worse than all industrialized nations. In fact, in most studies of global healthcare systems, the US system is usually outperformed by the healthcare system in Cuba and the per capita cost is usually found to be between seven and twenty times higher in the US. The economic impact of the absurdly inefficient US healthcare system is hundreds of billions of dollars in lost productivity. Even worse, there are tens of thousands of preventable deaths each year because of inadequate access to healthcare, because of mistakes by medical professionals, and because of patients not understanding the risks of drugs such as acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol; also called paracetamol in most of the world).