The World’s Biggest Problems

This list is a compilation of my favorite world-changing problems.

I currently have 16 big problems to solve, ranked in my order of highest expected positive impact if they were solved.

  • I also have ideas for 84 potential solutions, three of which I’ve created into startups.

This project is inspired by one of my favorite quotes:

“You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, ‘How did he do it? He must be a genius!”

— Richard Feynman (via Gian-Carlo Rota, Indiscrete Thoughts)

I’m also inspired by my version of the Hamming Questions:

  1. “What are the world’s biggest problems?”
  2. “Why aren’t you working on them?

There are way too many important problems in the world for any one person to solve, which is why I’m sharing them all here so we can get more people organized around all of these problems.

As I refine these ideas, I’m pushing myself to work in public and document more of my thought processes. I have started to publish my notes on potential solutions and will link these notes here once they’re live.

So my two ultimate goals for this project are:

  1. Start a constructive debate about the world’s biggest problems and best solutions.
  2. Convince everyone to work on the biggest possible ideas.

Let’s riff and refine on this list – share your big ideas on Twitter and tag me @neilthanedar for a response!


The World’s Biggest Problems:

Ranking:Problems:Solutions:
1Maximize Human Potential1. Personal Capital
2. Hamming Questions
3. Utopiaforming
4. Open Metaverse
5. Maximize Chaotic Good
6. Legalize Psychedelics
2Optimize Science For Good7. OpenAI for Biology
8. DNA Composer
9. Biotech Studio
10. Petrochemical Alternatives
3Optimize Government for Good11. US Digital Dollars
12. New Bill of Rights
13. Progressive Regulation
14. New Efficiency Movement
15. Redistribute Spending
16. End Corporate Warfare
4Scale Clean Energy Cheaply17. Modern HVAC
18. Decentralized Utilities
19. Normalize Nuclear Energy
20. Solar Panel Roofing
21. Swanson’s Law
5Scale Quality Healthcare Cheaply22. Universal Healthcare + Private Option
23. Nonprofit Pharmaceuticals
24. Nonprofit Medical Devices: Air to All
25. Decentralized Clinical Trials
26. Challenge Studies
27. Caseworkers for All
6Scale Quality Education Cheaply28. Universal Preschool
29. Montessori K-12 School
30. Microschool Platform
31. Full-Stack Schools
32. ISAs for Vocational Education
7Scale Quality Information Cheaply33. Open Social Network
34. Build A Third Brain
35. Make Information Expensive
36. Make Information Free
8End Poverty37. Open Banking Platform
38. Social Investments
39. Federal Job Guarantees
40. Rise of Human Jobs
41. Peak (and Decline) Population
9Prevent Suicides42. Hyperthymic Antidepressants
43. Trusted Therapy Network
44. CrossFit for the Mind
45. Men’s Groups
46. AI as Companion
10Defend Water Supply47. Defend the Antarctic Ice Sheet
48. Defend The Great Lakes
49. Independent Heavy Metals Testing
50. At-Home Water Testing Kit
51. Filtering Faucet
11Regulate Food Supply52. Recreate Ancient Foods
53. Universal Food Security
54. Independent Testing: Labdoor
55. Crypto Certifications: TEST
12Protect Individual Liberties56. Cloud Countries
57. Decentralized Currencies
58. Zero-Knowledge Services
59. Decentralized Internet
60. The Rise of Pseudonyms
61. Free People > Free Markets
13Counter Authoritarianism62. Robot Malpractice Laws
63. Cryptographic Voting
64. Unbundle The Police
65. Criminal Justice Reforms
66. Civil Justice Reforms
14Recruit Independents Into Politics67. Ranked Voting
68. YC for Politicians
69. The Politicians Next Door
70. Independents Movement
71. End Majority Rule
15Promote Independent Businesses72. Founder Accelerator
73. Utopic Ventures
74. 360 Deals for Creators
75. Startup Stock Exchange
76. Creator Stock Exchange
77. Indie Business Movement
78. Start A Business Today
16Value Impact > Labor > Capital79. The Next GDP
80. Capitalism 2.0
81. Nonprofit Startups
82. Collective Action Network
83. Challenge Grants
84. Challenge Contracts
Last Updated: January 12, 2021