Re: a to-do list for the next century

From: Peter C. McCluskey (
Date: Mon Mar 27 2000 - 10:45:04 MST ("d.brin") writes:
>ABSTRACT: What daring 21st century concepts or projects would you most
>like to see pursued, if money were no object?

 If I had a $100+ million that I could afford to use for charitable
purposes, the first project that would come to mind is trying to
buy Unisys' gif patent and licensing it out in a way that would create
political pressure against the patent office's attempts to unreasonably
expand the importance of patents.

 Other projects that come to mind are mind uploading and cryonics research.

>Traditional sources of mega-capital -- business and government -- have
>constituencies (voters and stockholders) that demand accountability and
>risk avoidance. Return horizons of five years are typical. In
>contrast, private individuals may choose to gamble on ventures of
>genuine vision, especially when the chief repercussion of failure is
>mere loss of investment (not, say, damage to human life or

 Individual donations avoid some of the dumbing down effects of committee
decision making, but most individual charity is still motivated by the
desire to impress people today, rather than to produce some impressive
breakthrough a decade from now. Which means that it won't be easy to
convince philanthropists to fund the kind of unusual projects that I
think truly altruistic donors would be looking for.

 Instead of focussing on the goals of charity (which are probably harder
to change than you seem to assume), how about changing the way the money
is spent?
 If we could create the assumption that the typical charitable gift as it
works today is used inefficiently because the donors rarely check how well
the money is spent, then we might be able to create social pressure to
use more effective processes such as information prizes. For instance,
it's hard for me to tell whether people who pledged money to Paul Wakfer's
Promotheus Project had reason to believe the money would be spent on
valuable cryonics research. I'd have more confidence that such money
would be well spent if it were pledged towards a prize that got awarded
to the first researchers to revive a rat from liquid nitrogen temperatures.

Peter McCluskey          | The US Idea Futures Exchange: speculate on | political,financial issues at

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