We have the responsibility to build the important things others are not building that fall within our domain of knowledge.
Almost all careers are dedicated to building: a teacher builds a child’s education, a cop builds a better community, and doctors rebuild broken bodies. Hell, capitalism arose because it’s believed that the people who build better should be rewarded more. Going one step further down the hole, all humans are are just builders; we’re ants who know how to build off of things we’ve already done.
But what happens when we see something that needs to be built yet no one does? In 2003 over 6,000 people died from falling off ladders and more than 30,000 people were injured. In 2009, 20,000 people across the globe died from mowing their lawn and 300,000 were injured. How fucking outrageous is that? 26,000 people!
356,000 people were either killed or injured from either mowing their lawn or falling off ladders. To put that into perspective, if you read Harry Potter’s Order of the Phonex & Sorcerer’s Stone then every single word would represent one death or injury… with 10’s of thousands of words left to spare.
Why am I writing about this? Because I’m a software engineer and I believe the technology has hit a point where taking the human out of the equation (and thus protecting them & giving them a better life) is completely possible. Using a combination of lidar, machine vision (deep learning for image recognition), and some electrical engineering, I believe I can build both a working autonomous lawn mower and, as energy density improves, possibly a drone to do the more hazardous activities of shoveling snow off roofs & gutter cleaning.
My issue is that I don’t really want to build all of this. The total bill could approach $10,000 (excluding my time), I don’t have a lawn, and it’s something that will have to be built over many many months with tons of “why the fuck isn’t this working!?”.
But I have to… it’s in my domain of knowledge, it’s exceedingly impactful, and if I don’t then who will? Even if I fail and someone finds a better way, I’ve at least pushed the envelope a little closer to potentially saving lives.