Problem Solving and Inclinations.
Is there a bias of technical people towards technical problems at the cost of equally important social problems? I think so and so do others.
I get the sense that people define their problems by the abilities they already possess. In doing so there's a drastic limitation, a covering, a bias in the problems one would be inclined to solve.
I'd been thinking of the connection between problem-solving, meaning, and inclination towards various problems for a while. I was reminded once again of the inclination towards various problems reading José Luis Ricón Fernández de la Puente's essay on Cozy Futurism.
But this post is however not about that; rather I wanted to use that as a starting point to note that space-related activities seem cool and futuristic whereas helping the homeless seems like a mere and pedestrian social problem that isn't particularly interesting to the technically minded. Ending homelessness, affordable healthcare, or making buildings beautiful again are problems that do not seem to require much—if at all— technological development (we could solve them with technology available right now, plus appropriate policies and institutions) so there's a temptation to consider those as easier problems that are already kind of solved and just in the need of convincing a bunch of people, whereas the real problems are those that involve figuring out if Nature even lets you do something, and how that might be accomplished.
A few months on and we're still arguing about whether Billionaire money is better spent on problems like poverty.
I personally think it to be a false choice, but as Jose makes note of, tech people have an inclination to the cool glitzy stuff, a desire to create the sci-fi worlds of dreams often overlooking the similarly difficult problems that lay in our midst. Solving hard problems like Climate Change, Poverty, Homelessness, like food and water insecurity, would very much make the world a better place with returns immediately noticeable. But often a lot of us overlook this.
I've been wondering why. I can only speculate, but I hope you bear with me or at least provide your own thoughts on this.
Media: A lot of people who gain technical skills had been guided into doing so through works of outer-worldly fiction. Works that had demonstrated protagonists, villains, and various characters harnessing engineering, science, and magic( often depicted in a technically demanding manner) to fight and defeat foes. There's the childish yet powerful guiding desire to accomplish similar feats. Bezos and Musk, both avid Sci-Fi fans had dreamt of their departure into space from early childhood.
Introversion and Neurodiversity: There's a strong desire to make a world of imagination, reality. A lot of people with the most amazing technical abilities have honed them largely because they are introverts and neurodivergent. Time spent with friends may have been spent coding projects. There may as such have been a lack of socialization resulting in an inability to empathize with more social problems. Very few such people engage in political affairs only to later discover the fact that one is subject not merely to forces of nature. When your world is mostly your family, your books and works of fiction, your technology, and the very few friends that share those interests often nowhere in your immediate vicinity, there is bound to be a schism between you and the way everyone else perceives the world around them
These two factors and a lot more seem to guide the way a lot of the technically inclined approach or rather avoid social problems. Cozy Futurism in that regard would quite literally be solving the problems we’ve procrastinated on or quite simply didn’t see the need to understand. The internet provides a medium for many truly gifted people to come together and tackle these problems. I think it’s high time that we attend to these problems the same way we do building great feats of engineering; with great focus and intention.
If you’re new to this newsletter, why not subscribe? Enjoy articles like this and many more. The best part? It’s entirely free!
Share this article and help others find this amazing content.
Want to help keep this newsletter alive? You can support us on Patreon.Thanks for reading and till next time.