2021-01-02

general progress ideas

some of them not so serious, just ideas. know about path dependence and network effects

language

share languages more

instead of using several hundred different languages localized in small areas. to avoid inaccessible knowledge and feeble understanding among people. make it possible to communicate internationally on almost native speaker levels. it is often underestimated, how much effort it takes to learn a language well - it can easily take a decade. while one may be able, with great effort, to communicate in basic ways after a relatively short time, this is far from how and what native speakers are able to communicate. effective intercultural communication increases the communication bandwidth and makes a difference for improved mutual understanding, which helps us with leading discussions, being diplomatic, inclusive and compassionate. by opening up interaction with more people and cultures, reducing the diversity of languages may increase the diversity and richness in other aspects. instead of ideas being locked away behind insurmounted learning curves, we could have access to more thoughts. learning a language is also practically required when wanting to move to a foreign country and because of that, shared languages increase mobility. imagine how much more difficult it is to move between multiple different countries in europe and build a living in a new country because of the many different languages.

humans that do not understand each others language are like humans that never discovered language at all.

example of cultural separation through language: the internet is separated into language bubbles. if one searches for a foreign language string, for example something arabic. one will probably find that almost all of the results will be exclusively in the foreign language, and many will probably be unknown sites - this is another bubble. that is what the speakers of that language only see. different language cultures have their own versions of popular internet services and social platforms and may have no need to interact with, or take much note of, for example, the anglosphere on the internet. this kind of diversity leads to duplicated effort, reduces innovation that would come from the competition of ideas in an extended market, and even fosters isolation and danger because countries can go to war - in which case speaking a different language would probably be a big advantage, but are we enemies?

having a country adopt the language of another country seems rarely even thought of. what would happen, is perhaps just the following: more people will understand more other people. one should at least question fears of "cultural suicide" as a supposed consequence of sharing, as well as questioning the assumption that people must have different languages in localised areas. dialects and languages develop naturally but the reach and efficiency of the means of communication have increased. one argument against shared languages is that dangerous memes might spread faster, but on the other hand, a response might be more effective as well.

  • create and use a language that is more logical and less ambiguous. note that a word synthesis method is important for artificial languages. existing example languages: lojban, attempto controlled english
  • use few character sets, drop uppercase letters ("vanity casing"). they are redundant. using 52 letters when 26 are enough does not actually make things easier when considering the full costs. the few ambiguous cases are easily avoided with other simpler techniques. finding lowercased text easier to read is a matter of habit, approach and consistency. only because uppercase letters are rendered larger do lower case words seem less prominent
  • use a more straightforward and easier to learn script with more distinct characters for faster character recognition, maybe similar to a linear hangul
  • some latin letters might not be necessary at all

time

  • abolish daylight savings time. it is not worth it. the switching leads to psychosomal distress and accidents and there is no sufficiently good reason for it. contrary to popular belief, it does not create more time. if people were free to choose, most probably wouldnt start getting up an hour earlier beginning summer time. even if one does not want to follow the daylight savings time change, one is forced because the whole society and its rhythms change, which, unless living in total isolation, has an unavoidable forced adjustment effect
  • instead of hours and seconds use kiloseconds for measuring time of day. that is, the last significant integer digit is 1000 seconds. the traditional irregular 24:60:60 counting is confusing and makes calculations difficult. this could only work if use of this time is common and a better name for it is found
  • use a single decimal number counted from an epoch instead of years, months and days of the month. split or divide the number for practical use cases

government

  • include the rationale in textbooks of laws. every rule needs a rationale, to not have to follow seemingly authoritan rules and as a notion of respect for the intellects of the people. the rationale itself is not a law, but it is valuable for law makers and other people to decide how much sense a law still makes, and to better educate about the complexities of the world that laws reflect
  • make an effort to simplify laws and to remove unnecessary ones, for example in tax law
  • regulate where the market can not work for the people. tax externalities
  • make laws available in easily machine processable formats, so far that it can be analysed and the complexity better controlled, like with a logic language. the style of language used for texts of law is pretty much a formal language, and the complexities of expression are especially important in the context of law
  • where is political science nowadays? the fundamental structures and processes of government that were created 60+ years ago can be more positively maintained or even enhanced with enough effort

units

general

  • use si units more commonly, specifically the metric system primarily. they have been defined in a more informed, consistent and simpler way
  • imagination finds a barrier at the lowest unit that is not multiples of another unit. unit-relational intuition gives more room to think and with that more creative possibilities. any simpler and more consistent unit definition is better to learn and use
  • metric value equivalents should not just be put in parentheses, because that tends to get ignored
  • maybe create new units for practical use derived from planck units

alternatives to units

celsius: replaces fahrenheit

liter

  • liquid ounce -> 30 milliliter
  • gallon -> 5 liter
  • barrel (all the various types) -> 2 hectoliter

gram

  • ounce, troy ounce, troy pound -> gram
  • pound -> 0.5 kilogram
  • stone -> 6 kilogram
  • us ton, imperial ton, metric ton -> 1 megagram

meter

  • inch -> 3 centimeter
  • foot -> 30 centimeter
  • mile, nautical mile -> 2 kilometer
  • astronomical-unit -> 150 gigameter
  • lightyear -> 9 petameter
  • parsec -> 31 petameter

second

  • hour, minute -> kilosecond
  • km/h, mp/h -> km/ks

kilocalorie -> megajoule

  • the joule is derived from gram/meter/second, whereas the calorie has a more complicated definition. table of competing calorie definitions here
  • the joule is the si unit suitable for food energy, although the kilocalorie is still in common use on food labels

byte -> 8 bit, octet

the byte is not even conclusively defined as being 8 bits long

mathematics

use more ascii based mathematical notation to teach. traditional notation is like being made for blackboards and uses many little "paintings" for symbols to save space, but because of that becomes time consuming to learn, more difficult to use with computers in this format and more difficult to uncover its meaning. this is a chance to make knowledge more transferable. use non-serif fonts and perhaps english word variable names. consider how unacceptable it is to write computer programs with that many symbols and lack of meaningful variable names, as is typical in mathematics. i would argue there is some middle ground that is better than what is common now. formulas may be efficient, the notation is not, if the required contextual information is considered

education

  • have critical-thinking, logic and ethics classes in schools, early and repeated later on. learn what an argument is. few are more important than those subjects, yet they are traditionally not even included
  • teach students about the political system of the country. some countries fail to do this, possibly leading to more people who would quickly dismiss the current government without further thought, because they can not imagine the sophistication of it and the size of an archievement it is
  • teach students about important laws. it is assumed that people know the laws, but it is uncommon for people to read a book of law for fun
  • many people experience an education system that is more daycare and non-productive child labor, this should be avoided. school and university is often more stressful than working in a business - maybe school just tries too hard or the separation between learning and application of the learned should not be so strict
  • consider that educational institutions act as a filter for types of people and think about specific school environments and consider if supporting a society of people that succeed in it is desirable
  • do not allow students to memorise things without understanding. it makes school an easy game for many kinds of the wrong people
  • stop forcing unnecessarily strict rules upon students. the number one rule could be: no stupid rules
  • repeat important topics a few years later. applying older knowledge can be a fun and welcome variation (or boring, but useful things tend not to be)
  • teach useful life skills. education currently includes little of the knowledge that is actually needed outside of school
  • give good lessons instead of homework. people need free time
  • dont confuse mathematics with mental arithmetic
  • dont put much emphasis on group work. thrown together randomly, it often turns out that only one or a few people do most of the work in the end, and good people are dragged down by the irresponsible that cant be motivated by anyone. "the only thing i learned in group work, is that you can never depend on anyone but yourself"
  • teach phonetics and the international phonetic alphabet
  • how about sign language courses

computer

  • develop simpler email communication protocols. encrypted email communication is still not easy enough to do, and email protocols are old and crufty. see how difficult it can be to install or configure email servers
  • update the typical keyboard hardware design. lots of unused keys make keyboards bigger than they need to be. create generic meta keys and use slightly more ergonomic keyboard designs
  • promote a better keyboard layout, qwerty is not the most efficient for english. i recommend colemak over dvorak. see carpalx keyboard layout research

programming

make well informed choices. do not just follow the marketing and popular opinion, because it might support network effects that hinder positive change

more modular code

  • create more libraries instead of only executables
  • ensure free software licenses and state it, because users need to know what they can do, otherwise the work is inacessible
  • ensure documentation and source code distribution, otherwise the work is inaccessible

more freedom

  • abandon and avoid software patents. new companies need to be able to succeed if they produce good work, not only if they are exceptionally rich and time-consumingly adhere to patent rules and win legal fights. big companies collect several thousands of patents, for what, to prohibit innovation or for profit if they care. patents and copyrights are valid for much too long - tendencially: one step today, the next in 90 years
  • make use of the freedoms that permissive licenses give - copy, mirror, extend and re-use without remorse
  • do not say you "stole" when you incorporate a free licensed asset into your free license product
  • publicise more code under the gpl

more interfaces: libraries, http, command-line

file formats

bz2 -> xz, zstd

wav -> au

  • au is much simpler
  • .au is, fortunately, possibly the simplest audio format to date and does just what it should. it supports up to 4,294,967,295 channels with up to 4,294,967,295 samples per second, infinite length and various (sample) formats, has barely any overhead (32 bytes per file), is simple to develop with and commonly supported by audio players, and it is a free format .wav is not nearly as uncomplicated for the same task

mp3, acc -> vorbis

  • vorbis archieves better sound quality with lower file sizes
  • mp3 is not a free format. mp3 support costs licensing fees for any codec/playback implementor

ape, aiff -> wav, flac

  • for lossless audio
  • flac is only an integer format, whereas wav supports float samples in various bitrates
  • but flac has half the size as uncompressed pcm audio and is a free and open format for everyone to use and implement without fees

business

  • use ethical banks. generic banks do not disclose their unethical investments
  • school qualifications or degrees should not be a hard requirement. it filters people by how well they are or were adapted to the school environment only, if anything
  • consider a worker cooperative or limit the salaries by ratio to the lowest paid workers, under the assumption that any employee should benefit from the companies profit or that noone should be seen as this much more or less valuable in relation. businesses should improve society
  • work should never be required to be more than 50% of the wake day

europe

  • reduce prices for sending packages in the european union. currently it costs about 14 euro to send a package to any neighboring country, that is prohibitively much
  • create a federalised european state, which could be able to act more efficient in some areas because of some limited cross-border powers and oversight, and bring people together because they are dealing with the same government. improve election system, military, fiscal, inter-state intelligence and outer border control. the federal government is supposed to be for things individual states can not likely accomplish alone. on the other hand, a bad government with a large reach is problematic

other

  • prefer renewable energy. coal power plants are killers
  • strive for the mainstream to be more intellectual
  • stop the noise pollution created from hitting bells and muezzin calls many times each day. it should be understood that this loud and occasionally stressing noise is beyond religious freedom. (for example, nine in the morning, stressed and late for the bus running, while the bells ring like a war is at the doorstep). it also reserves city areas to the deaf, hyposensitive and religious
  • save water, freshwater is too important and too rare to waste it. a water crisis is no fun and who wants to accelerate its emergence
  • remove the meaning of the weekend, regard all days as work days and increase the minimum number of vacation days to a corresponding amount
  • promote a reduced hours work week for those who would want that. consider universal basic income, with smart regulations
  • think about overpopulation. "democracy cannot survive overpopulation. human dignity cannot survive it. convenience and decency cannot survive it. as you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears"
  • use more customisable file formats for academic publications, something where one can change the font for example or reflow text on mobile devices
  • give download files better names. it is still common for distributed files to be named with only numeric identifiers and similar

use meal replacement beverages

  • for example powder based shakes that contain all nutrition needed
  • quick to consume for more time for more worthwhile activities, more nutritious than many alternatives, removes hunger quickly, fullfilling meals, easy to store months worth of food, longer shelf-life, benefits from reduced animal farming, saved resources from food preparation, more of it can produced easier and cheaper to avoid hunger in the world, designed to reduce negative effects like frequent blood sugar rises and increased salt intake

veganism

  • saves suffering, water, space, food, greenhouse gases and other pollution. the incredibly large number of processed animals leads to a large amount of suffering even if percentages were low

housing

  • create many particularly cheap, small and well governed apartments. today it is difficult to find a cheap apartment even if it does not need to be large, and many countries have laws that may even forbid citizens to live in small apartments. housing should be cheap
  • offer apartment rental contracts with a guarantee on quietness
  • support the creation of communities in neighborhoods that can organise. people that can not communicate can not act effectively against bad neighbors or threats, even if they have the same interests. not everyone wants to become best buddy with other neighbors and go out with them or have hour long small talk. perhaps a well managed online communication service provided by the house managers can improve the situation

computer

  • upstart -> systemd
  • fastcgi -> scgi

big-endian -> little-endian

big endian might somehow correspond to how humans traditionally write numbers (from right to left), but little-endian keeps the significance order of octets corresponding to the order of words

bsd, mit -> gpl

  • free software license
  • other licenses support making future developments of software closed-source again (non-copyleft), which is a more temporary solution