Things I wish would happen in this decade

I am about a few days late into 2020 for this kind of activity, but who cares? What makes it personally tricky for me is to balance between imagination and reality, wishes and my estimation of feasibility. I gave it some thoughts and here are a few things that I wish would happen in this decade.

Higher public transportation usage

I am a big fan of public transportation. If done right, what’s there not to like about it? Having lived in Vietnam and the US, which are not known for public transit, I wish there would be a dramatic increase in the use of buses, metros and trains in exchange for a reduction in car ownership and usage.

Converting image and voice to processible data

A lot of information is stored in oral content and images. Nowadays, it is possible to extract such information, yet it takes a lot of time and resources. 10 years from now, I definitely wish that it would be a lot easier and cheaper.

Change of focus in public education

More attention to personal finance, reading, writing, literature, nutrition, cooking and life skills please

Code by voice

I was running into a coding problem at work lately. It was more of a data manipulation kind. The task could be done at the expense of a great deal of effort. It made me wonder how better it would be if we could dictate computers to execute low-level code. Of course, we can’t just tell computers to “write me an Airbnb application”. Such a task as “get me the accounts that were inactive for the last three months but active for more than three months within the last year” or “compare for me the spend of customers at stores during the holiday season year over year”. That would be tremendously helpful for our society.

Augmented presentation of content

I struggled to label this one. I didn’t know how to call it exactly. We all have seen it in movies. One flick of the fingers and more information is presented in 3D in front of our eyes, like this picture below from Avengers. Imagine if at work we could just get the graphs from Excel, use our hands to place them into Power Point, seize them by our will easily and write the caption by voice. The productivity would increase by multiple folds

Tony Stark studying the Tesseract in 'The Avengers.'
Source: Venture Capital Post

Venture into space

The Earth surface isn’t expanding, yet human race is. We already exceeded the 7 billion mark and I wouldn’t be surprised if we surpassed the 8 billion mark ten years from now. That puts a lot of pressure on Mother Nature and ourselves. We need nature which doesn’t need us. Hence, I wish to see more ventures into space to see what is out there.

More people will have access to sufficient healthcare and fewer will die from diseases that are terminal today

Healthcare in America is ridiculously expensive. Some drugs like insulin can bankrupt patients and so can a trip to an ER. Folks in poor countries crave for access to better care and there are still diseases against which we seem powerless. I wish there would be some advances on healthcare universally.

I would love to have more peace, kindness, compassion and empathy in the world. Sadly, I fear that would be hard. I fear that isolationism and nationalism will rise. I fear that the ugly side of the world won’t get much prettier. My hope is that the mechanism that brings the ugliness to daylight will be used to shed more light to the beauty of the world.

Public Transit

Landing in Austin, I immediately went to Uber and Lyft apps to look for a ride to Austin Downtown. Each came back with an estimate of $20 for a ride. I thought, well, it is what it is. In my defense, it is kinda a trained reaction after living for a while in America, where public transportation can be disappointing in some cases. Anyway, I decided to give it a try and ask the Information Desk about buses to Austin downtown. It turned out that buses run every 15 mins, even on Saturdays and most Sundays from and to the airport. The charge? $1.25/person/ride. It took me only 25 mins to reach Austin downtown, not much different from the estimated time of an Uber/Lyft ride. But I saved $19.

Imagine how much money & time we could collectively save from using more public transportation and less personal vehicles. No more scrambling to find a parking slot, no more parking fees in your building, no more car insurance and safer transportation. A well-designed public transportation network will be a great investment of tax payers’ money and a spoon for low-income folks who should not be forced to buy a car for daily commute.

In Omaha, one of two biggest cities in Nebraska, if not the biggest, there are more bus routes from downtown than other parts of the city and on the weekdays. If you live reasonably far out, no matter the direction, from the city center, there is no bus at all. On the weekends, there is only one bus every half an hour or every hour. To popular places such as Social Security Administration or DMV, there is usually one bus every half an hour, even on the weekdays, and it usually involves transiting from another bus. Trust me, it’s hugely frustrating and unnecessarily time-consuming. On top of that, drivers in Omaha are terrible. I don’t know about drivers in other cities, but a busted car front is not an unusual sight there. If you are not an experienced driver, it can be dangerous and daunting. Oh and it is even worse in the winter. My boss told me on Friday, the first day of winter, that she had to turn around and come home after 2 miles because there were a lot of accidents and the roads were too slippery.

P/S: After telling me about the bus, the lady at Austin Airport’s Information Desk promptly gave me a quarter for my bus ride. Talk about first impression from a new city!