The following problems need to be solved using clever technologies or inventing new science :-) I urge the students, the enormous number of them graduating from colleges in India specifically (as some of the problems I am listing out below predominantly belong to India) to work on these problems and build solutions that will expose them to ‘problem solving’. We need a large number of thinkers, doers, imagineers to start working on these problems to make our lives and our descendants better.

  1. Indian fishermen crossing Indian Ocean into Sri Lanka are shot dead or jailed with their boats confiscated etc. While people may say it can be solved with a GPS, I feel it is not so simple as the problem persists. If I am a fisherman and I stray across to the Lankan waters, a device to alert me is sufficient. People who still cross from either side going after a good catch need to be able to do so if their identities can be published in real-time in a database that can be looked up for verification. Also, the trespassing by the Navy of both sides as well should be recorded. Having hard facts will help dispel emotions and deaths.
  2. Once there was this news that Bangalore will be flooded. It was incessantly raining for a week prior to that. And right after I saw that News, it was believable that such a thing could happen. But the rains completely stopped after that News. It was completely a correct prediction of the opposite kind. I felt bad that even in 2018 we are unable to predict the weather accurately. It looked like the Met department simply extrapolated it. With latest machine learning techniques and enormous amount of data, it is not very difficult to find patterns and predict the weather. This is a worthy problem to solve. This will help our farmers, urban commuters to plan things and avoid catastrophes.
  3. You need to be a badass to cross our city traffic. Google Maps is helping in pockets to divert traffic from busy roads. But solving this issue is not about finding that one silver bullet it looks like. I do not mean a political answer to this that seem to be all about allocating budgets to Metros and Flyovers. Yes, let that happen. But from a technology perspective, can this be solved ? Why car pooling is not working as desired ? Will self-driving cars fix this ? Will better work-from-home applications reduce traffic ? Will a mass delivery app for goods of any kind fix this ? Do we need to re-design our living around industrial clusters ?
  4. What do we teach our kids ? Why do we dump so much on them at such an young age when we ourselves would never need that. How do we make them work on their interests ? Do we still need schools ? We have seen how the competitive exams have robbed the joy from our children and adults equally. For the ones getting through IIT, there is only one path. Whereas for the others everything other than IIT is a path. In our society we need all kinds of people. Unfortunately, the perception is that anything we do with our body is low level while all brain work is considered high level. Bringing in dignity of labour truly may help to groom a kid who is excellent in cutting woods to become the best carpenter and still find a place of honour in this society. It appears like understanding education also requires understanding where everyone fits in, in this society, our interests and so on. I will go to the extent of saying that we need to understand ‘what is education’ more than solving a problem here. A deeper understanding will help us address the root of this problem rather than create a meaningless rat race.
  5. How do we make our society law abiding ? We find all kinds of violations everywhere. Buildings constructed without sanctions, public property destroyed for petty reasons, unsafe environment for children and women, court cases running for the lifetime of a person, innocent people languishing in prison waiting for a bail, government misusing its powers for vendetta politics, our environment and natural resources plundered for greed…the list is endless. Do we need to increase the number of lawyers , courts ? Do we need to make public aware of the law of the land stripped of legal jargon ? Do we need to bring out more and correct data on crimes ? Do we need to keep fights de-centralized and solved at the lower most level ?
  6. How do we assure a peaceful life for our senior citizens ? With health care the major concern, how do we develop applications that monitor the well-being and suggest timely corrective action. Living a pain-free, happy life in old age is something that stands above everything. Liberating them from Medicine hell created by quacks and greedy pharmas, inventing new ways of mobility to travel to places that will bring joy, enabling them to have safe, clean food to eat without much hassles, creating virtual companions resembling their favourite people with whom they can converse etc. to make the old age rocking.
  7. There are lots of people who still die of drinking bad water, breathing pollutants or eating food from poisoned soil. Preserving our trees, soil, air, water by constantly measuring and increasing their presence and quality, devising non-toxic ways to produce food, inventing low cost means to get clean drinking water, clean energy and building tools and technologies to reduce the effects of urban and industrial pollution.
  8. We still have a large number of people who just have a single meal a day. We find enormous amount of food being wasted in pockets which could have fed several hungry mouths. We find people living in impoverished conditions, unable to get to a decent living in their life time. While donations and charity help in a major way, there is a need to research on economic models and financial tools and instruments that helps to distribute the wealth to create a level playing field for everyone and help improve the standard of living.
  9. Today we have a highly centralised model that collects taxes and does welfare. It is fraught with corruption and leaks. Every decision is controlled by a party or a person at the top and every action has to trickle down a hierarchy until it reaches the last person. A highly distributed and decentralized model of governance where issues arising locally get addressed locally, revenues collected locally are used locally with surplus routed to needy pockets using technologies like Blockchain may help us relook the idea of governance and polity.
  10. Humans are not born to do work. Yet we find a operator sitting inside a lift all day long, we find people doing menial jobs replacing coffee filters in offices or those who guard ATMs. Humans are there to make this world more beautiful. Like creating music or imagining the universe or writing poetry or simply reading a good book. There are so many beautiful things waiting to be done by humans while we have created a world of slavery where everyone ends up working for everyone else. Liberating humans to reach their highest potential by automating almost all of the mundane things that are done by humans around us with friendly AI or Robots will be needed to fix the above things and more.
  11. I am working on solving this one. Will let you know soon :-)

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