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Why do I do what I do

The writing of this article is more for myself than for the reader. But if you’re reading it, welcome 🙂

I find writing a great way to understand, develop and clarify my thinking. But can’t I just keep it in a diary? Yes. But writing publicly pressures me to create coherent, well-written and reasoned writing – that I otherwise may not.

This article begins on the premise that I spend a lot of my time and energy earning, and trying to earn, money.

It even shapes how I think about ideas.

E.g. discarding ideas that are unlikely to yield a profit, and prioritizing ideas that will.

So, what about when I’m not working on projects that can yield money… what do I focus on then?

How do I prioritize and best use my free time?

Life is short, and there are only so many hours in the day. Ensuring that focused work is well prioritized is important to me. Each day may be the last day I get to work on something, so I’d rather not waste it.

So, for the sake of a thought experiment… what if tomorrow I won the lottery and didn’t need to earn any more money? What would I do then?

In my current frame of mind, it comes down to values.

As a flow, it’s something like:

> What do I value
> How do I want to influence the world with those values
> What are my practical, actionable goals
> What actions can I take to achieve or get closer to those goals

Starting with the initial point “what do I value”, it would make sense to first write out my values…

For the structure of this article, you can view the table of contents below:

My Values

My current, top 6 values are:

  1. Freedom
  2. Truth
  3. Excitement
  4. Health
  5. Family
  6. Usefulness / Providing Value

I’ll write briefly about each of them:

Freedom

What is freedom?

I don’t think freedom actually exists in a pure form.

At an extreme, we’re all bound by the laws of physics. We’re not free to float about in Earth’s gravity or create energy from nothing.

We’re also bound by human social conventions and rules that exist to facilitate us living in (relative) harmony.

So I’m more interested in:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of movement
  • Freedom of money
  • Time freedom – I.e. the freedom to spend time the way you want. Not be a prisoner to a paycheck or some other hindrance.

I think there are more types of freedom, but I would need to think longer on the topic.

The reason I place freedom at the top of my list is that without control over my time, the ability to openly express my thoughts, or to move about the physical world. My entire experience of reality would be negatively affected.

I guess it’s no coincidence that when criminals are not killed for their actions, the next thing society does to them is lock them up in prison and take away their freedoms.

Truth

Physics is a form of truth.

It’s a way of evaluating the world for rules and understanding those which are predictable and repeatable.

I think there are other forms of truth too.

For example, take hot topics such as:

  • Mass Migration
  • Vaccines
  • War

There can be financial and political motivations for all of these.

There can also be “truth” about the reality of them. Truth that may be suppressed in order for an agenda to be furthered.

If the truth can be hidden, then these agendas can be maximized, at the expense of other human’s health and prosperity.

Another example is the heliocentric theory of the solar system. Ie, the idea that the planets rotate around the sun.

At the time, this directly contradicted the Church’s theory that the Earth was at the center. When Galileo tried to promote Copernicus’ heliocentric theory, he was legally challenged and sentenced to house arrest.

A comparison of the geocentric and heliocentric models of the universe – source

This is an example of truth being challenged and suppressed. It’s notable because we rely on accurate scientific models, such as heliocentrism, to keep progressing technology and society forward.

Excitement

As I was writing my values out, I realized that I was missing one.

What is life without excitement?

Without the chance to:

  • Experience new cultures, foods, and countries
  • To challenge ones self in a sports competition or against the elements
  • To experience altered states of consciousness

There are many things that bring me excitement, that don’t always or necessarily get me closer to important goals or even have a point.

So if I took away the excitement, what would I be left with? It’s like taking the fun away.

Health

Without my health, I cannot do the things I want to do in life.

Therefore, health is core to my values.

I used to be a bit obsessional about the subject.

However, over time, I’ve begun to realize that most of what’s required for a healthy life is quite basic.

And some of it, we can’t even control if we wanted to.

E.g. genetics, upbringing, society

Family

In my life, friendships and romantic relationships have come and gone.

However, close family relationships, have remained strong (for the most part).

It’s through family that we raise the next generation of humans.

It’s family that we can (hopefully) rely on when we hit hard times.

It’s been crucial to my life thus far.

I value family. Both the family that I have, and the family I’d like to create and grow.

Usefulness / Providing Value

My experience of relationships is that they rely on mutually appreciated exchanges of value.

I really like having great people in my life.

Therefore, to do so, I have to provide value in some way.

Another way to phrase it is to “stay useful”.

This is quite a simple one.

Current Focuses

Ok, so at the high level, those are my top values, but how can I translate them into practical actions and priorities?

I guess this next part is more fluid, arbitrary and prone to change than the values section.

It’s influenced by:

  • My personal life experience
  • My strengths, interests, and abilities
  • The current and constantly changing state of the world.

To date, these are some of the specific topics that I currently contribute to:

And these are specific topics that I believe are important to my values, and could allocate more time/work to in the future:

I’ll write briefly about each one, to clarify what I mean and relate them back to my values.

Health

I’ve had a natural interest in the topic of health for a long time.

So much so that I created a blog around the topic, attempting to summarize what health influencers do for their own health.

For a long time, I found it an interesting and engaging topic. However, as I wrote here, since Covid I’ve struggled to take seriously many of the health influencers I used to write about.

I won’t rehash the details here, but the upshot is that it’s causing me to rethink where I go from here on the topic of health.

Despite this change in focus, I still think human health is paramount, as it’s the bedrock from which we can do everything else.

So I’ll keep going in this vein, but how exactly it manifests is subject to change.

Digital Cash / Free Speech Money

The founding fathers of the USA considered “freedom of speech” important enough to engrain it in their constitution in 1791.

At the time they used cash and precious metals for trading goods and services.

Cash had important properties such as:

  • Fungibility
  • Censorship resistance
  • Lack of traceability

This allowed citizens to buy and sell the goods and services they wanted.

However, zooming forward to 2024, we live at a time where:

  • Cash is becoming less common, and many places do not accept it, especially in higher amounts.
  • Digital payment systems are increasingly surveilled and monitored. With the possibility that more centralized payment systems (such as Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)) get rolled out to replace existing fiat currencies.
  • Central banks are increasingly debasing the currency by printing more of it

All these factors indicate a need for currency that affords people:

  • The ability to make cash-like payments online – preserving important properties of cash such as privacy, fungibility and censorship resistance.
  • For example, with privacy, to be able to spend money without having organizations surveilling how it’s being used.
  • Protection from central bank inflation.

One of the key differences between capitalism and socialism is that capitalism makes a bet on individual emergent behaviors being wiser than centrally planned solutions.

In order for this to extend to consumer behaviour choices, like purchasing goods and services, I believe it’s important citizens have a form of digital cash available to use.

I will stop there for now, but I fundamentally believe this is important, and will continue to spread some focus on the topic.

Mars Colonization

When I think about what humans (and other organisms) are doing on earth, their key goals appear to be to:

  • Survive
  • Reproduce

If they do both of these, they allow their genes and lifestyles to propagate into the future.

While I personally want to survive, I also want human society to survive.

Without veering off into a long discussion on the risks to humanity, I’ll simply say that the idea of backing up humanity to Mars makes a lot of sense. It also:

  • Allows for new types of governance to be tested out, from scratch, without a huge legacy overhead of laws and customs.
  • Allows for the development of new technologies to tackle new issues that Earth doesn’t face.

Beyond survival, there are also the ideas of adventure, excitement, and exploration.

These ideas are capable of uniting humans around the world from all walks of life.

A joint human project, of massive scale, to collaborate on.

So these are some of the reasons that this project interests me.

Possible Future Focuses

Freedom of Speech

Prior to Covid, I assumed that free speech was something I had, and I took it for granted.

However, as I learn more about the persecution of political activists and media censorship, I realize that freedom of speech no longer exists in a pure form, and is under constant attack.

Blocking free speech impacts:

  • Our ability to learn the truth about events
  • Our ability to make the right decisions for ourselves and our loved ones
  • Our ability to pick the right path forward, whether it’s related to politics or other things

I believe free speech is fundamental to a healthy society.

I haven’t yet figured out what I can do to aid in the freedom of speech, but I will think about it.

Improving Democratic Voting Systems

I was led to believe that I live in a “democratic society”.

However, the actual experience of this is:

  • Elections every 4 years that are between 2 options, which are more similar than they are different
  • Career politicians who are often more interested in preserving their power and earning power than representing their citizens.
  • Crony capitalism whereby corporations with large financial and lobbying power have influence on political decisions
  • Citizens can be unanimously against governmental actions (e.g. Iraq war) and be powerless to influence decisions.

Therefore, the only conclusion I can draw, is that the amount of power the electoral have, is very very small.

Fortunately, since the advent of the internet and smartphones, we have new ways to facilitate citizens to cast votes on what the government does.

To date, most Western civilizations have not taken advantage of these technological changes, but that does not mean that they can’t.

I’d really like to see experimentation done in small geographic regions in order to figure out how to augment democratic systems in order to better harness the collective will and wisdom of its citizens.

No doubt some experiments would be better than others.

With the long term goal of finding optimal systems that could then be deployed at a wider scale.

Actually, the more realistic way I envision things playing out would be:

  • Autonomous geographic regions test out new democratic solutions
  • Some of these solutions work well, and attract migrants
  • More autonomous regions then adopt these existing, working solutions
  • People now have much more options about where they live and pay their taxes

As mentioned, I don’t current contribute to this work, but I think it would be useful to do so in the future.

Reflections

Scattered Focus?

In the creation of this article I realize that there are 3 focus areas currently, with 2 more possible “expansion” areas.

That may split my focus in such a way that I can’t have a decent impact on any one of them. TBC.

Now that I’ve recognized this, I’ll see if, over time, I can narrow down my focus further.

What I’ve learnt from observing the most impactful man of my lifetime, Elon Musk, is that the way he splits his focus around so many different topics is to define a goal that many people believe in and want to achieve, put teams in place to achieve the goal, and then take his hands off the steering wheel.

Perhaps I can learn from that and do something similar.

Unexpected Article Outcomes

When I started writing this article, I was aware that I may discover things that I didn’t already understand or appreciate.

One of which was the insertion of excitement into my top values. I initially wrote 5, then realized that I actually value excitement very highly.

Without excitement in life, it feels less enjoyable and worth living.

To the extent that I will often do things for excitement at the cost of my health. Hence putting it above it.

Where does “Love” enter into my values?

At an event recently there was an 87-year-old Indian-British activist called Satish Kumar speaking.

Satish Kumar – image source

He made a point that when it comes to “truth”, many people have different definitions. Thus, it’s important to put love before truth.

I inferred he meant to preserve peace and harmony through love and empathy.

It was an interesting point that I haven’t really considered or thought much about.

Currently I “assume” love plays a role in my life, but I don’t place emphasis on love.

Maybe I should? I don’t know.

I’m currently putting a bookmark in that topic, and will perhaps try to learn more.

Conclusion

The title of this article is “Why I do what I do”.

So what conclusion have I come to?

  • I have established my top values.
  • I have then established and explained some of my specific interests and how they relate to my values. These are things that I already am involved in, or may get more involved in, in the future.
  • I have also realized that I may be trying to tackle too many issues at once. I don’t know the immediate solution, but this is something to ponder.
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