What is an important question?
If you do not work on an important problem, it’s unlikely you’ll do important work.
As Dr. Richard Hamming stated in his 1986 “You and Your Research” talk, you can’t do important work unless you address important problems. The important problems here are not those for which a solution cannot exist, such as time travel, but those for which there is some kind of reasonable solution.
If you do not work on an important problem, it’s unlikely you’ll do important work. It’s perfectly obvious. Great scientists have thought through, in a careful way, a number of important problems in their field, and they keep an eye on wondering how to attack them. Let me warn you, `important problem’ must be phrased carefully. […] We didn’t work on (1) time travel, (2) teleportation, and (3) antigravity. They are not important problems because we do not have an attack. It’s not the consequence that makes a problem important, it is that you have a reasonable attack. That is what makes a problem important. When I say that most scientists don’t work on important problems, I mean it in that sense. The average scientist, so far as I can make out, spends almost all his time working on problems which he believes will not be important and he also doesn’t believe that they will lead to important problems.
From this perspective, I would like to reassess what are the key issues I am working on.
Life is built on a series of decisions, and the better decisions one makes, the more likely one is to achieve a better life. The material that influences these decisions is the information that a person has or has access to. That information can come from two sources: one’s own experience and the other from the experience of others. Whichever information the person has access to if he or she has the information he or she needs, he or she will be able to make a better decision.
So, what is needed to determine if the information is necessary for the person? It is (a) analysis and understanding of the information available in the world, (b) understanding of the person’s context and interest, and matching based on this understanding.
The first premise is that, given the future, information can only absolutely move in the direction of increasing. There are two types of things: reversible and irreversible. The increase in information seems to be irreversible, considering the ease of creating information through technological advances, the development of technologies to disseminate it, the status-seeking psychological aspect of people, and population growth. This is similar to what Jeff Bezos said in re:Invest Day2 in 2012:
It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ or ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’
Google has been working on analyzing and understanding the information in the world for a long time, and its AI/ML technology is also growing. Some companies try to work on this part of analyzing, understanding and matching information in the world, but unless they have the technology, capital, and management skills to do so, they often end up falling short of Google’s efforts. This may be understandable considering how much time, money, and effort Google spends here. (One possible solution to break through here is to focus entirely on vertical, as in Yelp, Behance, Indeed, etc., or, as discussed below, a high-resolution curation.)
Assuming that at some point in the future, a device will be developed that can access the necessary information even from among the infinite amount of information available, or that it will be approaching that point, the next question will be whether or not that information exists or not. There is a big difference between “0” and “1” in the presence or absence of information. If there is no information, there is no way to find it. Of course, the quality of the information is important, but as long as the information is there, there is a possibility that it can be found with an index.
However, if you look around the world at this time, you will find that there is information that is not found on the Internet but is actually relevant and necessary for the person. In other words, there is a pattern where knowledge and experience remain in a person’s brain, but it does not appear until someone or something pulls the information.
If there is a mechanism to draw this out and share it, the problem of lack of information could be solved. At the very least, we can move in that direction. At an organizational level, this could be done by an approach called the SECI model.
Ultimately, there may be a way to read from brain waves by contact or non-contact, but at present, this may take some time. However, it is true that interesting research reports are emerging in this area, including Elon Musk’s Neuralink. [cf: Nature Neuroscience, 23, 575–582 (2020), arXiv:2208.12266 (2022), etc]
In terms of information sharing among the masses, from Medium and personal blogs to newsletters like Substack, micro-blogging like Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, etc. are playing a major role in terms of information and knowledge sharing. However, these alone do not extract all the information that is in the brain. Besides, the 1–9–90 rule still remains.
Information in the brain can be retrieved when something is touched. This is when a so-called “spark” occurs, such as during a conversation, when a question is asked, when reading, or when watching. In many cases, even the person himself or herself does not know what is happening until he or she encounters it.
If there were a device that could capture, store, and share these moments, we would be able to access the information stored in the brain even more than we do now. This data may not be something as vague as a search query on Google, but information that was really needed, or what the person was potentially thinking about.
Google may know very well what the person is looking for, but it may not know what the resulting answer was. In contrast, the spark or resonance that occurs when the brain is exposed to something is likely to be a strong indicator of the person’s interest or taste, and from that perspective, it could help understand the person’s context and interests. The data could also be used as AI/ML data with a high S/N ratio.
In other words, if we can capture, store, and share moments of spark, the quantity and quality of information that can be accessed will increase, which may contribute to both (a) analysis and understanding of information in the world and (b) understanding of a person’s context and interest.
In this vein, the really important question is how to extract, store, and share the information in a person’s brain, and the method or mechanism itself.
In other words, there are three important points
- Retrieving the information in the brain
- Storing the information over a long time horizon
- To be able to access information as needed
The first point, “to retrieve information in the brain,” and the third point, “to be able to access necessary information as needed,” are as described above.
As for the second point, “to store information over a long time horizon,” it may be important to carve the information into on-chains such as blockchain and leave it in a decentralized manner for a long period of time. In this way, the information will remain semi-permanently. The con is that even if the information is later deleted, it will still be all there.
When I think about when I die, I will be happy if the information I thought was important remains and is useful for the next generation. Blockchain may be the most powerful logging tool in this sense. (The desire to leave something behind to be useful may be a kind of self-satisfaction and self-deception, but we’ll let that pass for now.)
So far I have only described the whole of humanity from my biased utilitarian point of view, but then, on the other hand, does the average people really want it? Do they really want to preserve the proof of their life for future generations? After all, it may be that first of all, it is fine just for oneself, or that it is irrelevant after one’s death, so it is not important. I don’t know.
But if that is the case, why do people leave a will? Why would they want to leave something for someone else when they die? Why are there not a few people who do so?
It is true that a noble and courageous life will remain in someone’s mind and propagate through the recipient’s life. One might say that if this were really the case, then why leave knowledge behind? But it is also because we share and pass on the knowledge that we have acquired intelligence and are able to live better lives with each passing generation. The phrase “knowledge is power” tends to be applied to individuals, but it is also true for humanity as a whole.
Since the spread of the Internet, the amount and breadth of knowledge that can be left behind has expanded. This is why human knowledge is expanding so rapidly, and the range of what we can do is also expanding. That is a wonderful thing. The reason why we have been able to do this is that a certain number of our predecessors left behind what they learned and what they thought was important information. Of course there will be noise, but I think that can be resolved according to individual context and interest with a complete search/access device like the Google of the future. It is also true that at present only a handful of information from a handful of people remains.
Considering this again, I still think it would make sense for humanity as a whole to keep the information in the brain, store it for a long period of time, and make it accessible as needed.
It is true that this cannot be accomplished in the current web2-like state. The option of being able to leave it on-chain in some way may be necessary. It does not mean that everyone has to do it. It may be ideal for everyone to do so, but there may be some resistance, and if even strange things are left behind, they may be a hindrance in later life. Considering this, it may be better to have it as an option.
I have written this down in a rambling manner, but I do not understand much about technology, the world, or even people. If we can improve together by exchanging opinions, it would be very much appreciated, and I think it would be of no small help to mankind.
”Share your knowledge. it is a way to achieve immortality.” — Dalai Lama XIV
See you next time,