Every day I am taking notes on something new, and a lot of my thoughts end up manifesting themselves into questions that I contemplate often. I have created a list of all of the questions I am interested in answering at some point below. If you have an answer to these questions, please reach out to me.
How can we better leverage a child’s natural curiosity to increase the quality of education?
Children are naturally curious, and that is made evident by the fact that they always respond “why” to many different that people say. To many this seems annoying, but I find it interesting and a great opportunity for growth. There is an aptitude test used to measure creativity by asking people to name the potential use cases for basic objects, such as a paper clip. People who are classed as a “genius” in the test come up with much more creative use cases than everyone else. In the experiment, 98% of 5 year olds score in the genius category, but only 2% of adults enter into that category. Should we be asking students more abstract questions in order to make them want to learn? How can we take this natural curiosity and implement it in the higher education system? Would this make more people stay in school?
Will microgrants overtake philanthropic ventures and charities?
I have been researching the prospects of microgrants and how they can be used to democratize access to opportunity and increase accessibility to capital for ambitious innovators. Tyler Cowen has written a blog post regarding the benefits of microgrants over traditional charitable ventures, and highlighted the fact that they reduce the dependency on large staffs who are more interested in preservation of the fund than deploying the capital to worthy causes. Microgrants generally mean that every single dollar of an investor’s money is deployed into passionate young people, and because of the size of the grant, it can increase access to opportunities for a larger range of people than traditional charity can. Pioneer, 1517 Fund, and the Thiel Fellowship are great examples of how grants have been leveraged at scale to help catalyze young people’s success, but I feel as if there is room for more microgrant funds to perform that same role.
Microgrants also address a main issue highlighted in my book which I have dubbed“The Capital Problem”, which refers to the issue of raising enough capital to make human investing work at scale. I am interested in hearing more about how microgrants can be used to resolve this problem too.
Are podcasts going to overtake books in the future?
Books are a great source of knowledge and society has relied on them for centuries to store knowledge and allow people to learn from other people’s work. Many people in their childhood relied solely on books to learn of ventures they could only dream of, and saw books as representing a higher plateau of knowledge and understanding of the world. The thing is that paper books are not fully digitally searchable (yet), although there have been ventures such as the initial CAPTCHA program which tried to digitize books and NYT extracts. Podcasts have recently became very popular and I believe that the relatable and interactive nature of the medium could make it become even more popular in the future. Nearly 70 million Americans listen to podcasts every month, and that number is only increasing. Will podcasts become more popular than books?
What interfaces will be developed that allow for us to better search human knowledge?
At present, we rely on mediums such as books, interviews, and podcasts to learn more about other people from afar. These are relatively effective and allow us to gain an overall insight into a person’s viewpoint on a variety of issues. There have been a few people who are working on projects that map out their knowledge more intricately, and who are developing a “second brain” using technology. I am interested in hearing about how we can map out human knowledge in the future, and how we can better convey our individual thought patterns. If someone is trying to learn a concept, reading a guide can be an effective starting point. However, if someone had access to a map of the thoughts that someone had as they were learning, it would make for both a more effective and engaging learning journey. Learn Anything is working on this from a crowdsourced perspective, but it would also be interesting to see how mapping techniques could be applied towards how a specific individual acquires knowledge of a topic.
How can we more effectively identify young talent at the earliest possibles stage who have the possibility to generate great economic value in the future?
Pioneer, 1517 Fund, and other such grants have done a great job of identifying young people who are on a strong trajectory toward success, and have helped these people access the capital and resources they need to reach their full potential. I think that the rise of the microgrant (essay pending) will contribute towards society finding more of these young innovators, although there are still so many people out there whose talent has not yet been realized. How can we raise awareness for these models and help even more people reach their potential? This is a very difficult question to fully answer considering that talent is globally distributed and many people will not even have access to an internet connection.
How can we know when someone is discovering their true passion?
Consider this: the internet is only 30 years old. Therefore, everyone who is currently aged 40 or over who are web developers could not have possibly predicted what their career was going to be. There is a strange pressure placed on young people for them to realize their “true passion” from a young age and go to college and learn about that specific subject matter in more depth. Yet many people continue to change careers, and many experts estimate that our future economy is going to become more dependent on freelancing. At what point can someone actually say that they are pursuing their true passion? In that same regard, how do we help people find their passion sooner so that they can spend more of their time exploring the area in-depth? The concept of Free Learning can help people discover what they want to work on, although there are very few platforms that embrace the idea to make it easier for self-driven learners to acquire knowledge effectively.
Why are companies staying private for longer?
The number of publicly traded companies on the stock exchange has slowly decreased since 1997. In 1997, there were over 7,000 publicly traded companies in the US, and in 2019 this has decreased to around 4,000 companies. 2018 saw an increasing amount of M&A activity, with $2.5 trillion in deals announced in Q1/2 of 2018. More and more companies have decided to stay private for longer, and despite the boom of IPOs in 2019 featuring big names such as Lyft and Pinterest, there are many companies are deciding not to IPO. What has contributed to this overall decrease in public companies? Does shareholder activism and the public perception of short-term focused outlooks on the market contribute to more companies staying private? Have solutions such as equity crowdfunding and more private equity activity due to loosened regulations made companies think twice about going public?