Background: We have a huge income disparity returning after a century of middle class success. One component of this disparity is that building a popular product (iPhone, self driving car, amazon.com, etc.) requires a lot of technical knowledge and skills. These skills only come naturally for a small percentage of the population. Normally that would be fine because they could do what they do best and everyone else could do everything else that needs to be done, but as we automate everything we are approaching a point where technical knowledge will be required to do anything.
We can try to teach tech to everyone, but right now the tools are so terrible that getting someone to the point where they can make something useful takes too long to be economically practical in the majority of cases.
If every tech genius focused on building better tools that could be used for creating products instead of building the products themselves, then anybody else could come up with an idea for a greener air-conditioner and design a prototype in a few weeks. I would love to build better tools myself, but fixing Linux, PHP and WordPress is not going to feed my family.
Question: How do we get the best and brightest in the tech world to focus exclusively on building tools when all the money is being made by makers of products. Is there a way to make tool building more profitable?
I am specifically looking for a business solution, not a government solution or grants. Extra bonus if your idea involves starting a business that will drive up demand for tech tools.
Comments copied from Stack Exchange
Really you could build a greener air-conditioner if you only had the right tools? Do you know the laws of thermodynamics? Do you know what a Carnot cycle is? You really think inventions are limited by tools? Eisenstein discovered the theory of relativity with a pen and pencil. Franklin discovered electricity with a kite, sting and a key. I want the best on brightened focused on stuff to make my life better. And there are LOTS of tool makers out there today. If you know how to fix Linux then you should have no problem feeding your family. – Frisbee yesterday
Let’s say that this was my field and I came up with an idea I wanted to test. In addition to being an expert in my field I would have to learn about 3d modeling, circuit boards, programming, etc. or learn to get funding and hire people just to get a prototype to test my idea. If I can buy an arduino, use a vr-gloves designed to manipulate 3d objects, and code in a language that doesn’t require hours just to setup a dev enviro, I might be able to do it on my own. The stuff that makes your life better gets built faster and more bright people are able to participate because of better tools. – Luke Gedeon yesterday
As for the kite and key or pencil and paper (I always assumed he used chalk but anyway), my point was that those days are fading, not that they never existed. Those were exciting times. And to some degree we can still do a lot of pure science with simple tools, but when it comes to applied sciences, things are getting downright complicated. And I do know how to fix linux, but it is going to take 10,000’s of hours to do it. How do I feed my family while building that? You said it was possible, please tell me how. That is what this question is all about. – Luke Gedeon yesterday
Oh, wow! I was totally not suggesting taxes. I was trying to say that I want business suggestions not government solutions. I will reword that. Yes, I am feeding my family quite well, but that is because I am building products not tools. I am surrounded by brilliant people whose products could turn out so much better if they had the tools that I could be building for them. Did you say raising capital for a better open-source OS, and a better programming language and IDE is simple? Please teach me how to do this. – Luke Gedeon yesterday
The fact of the matter is, there are people that spend all their time improving tools. Even outside of all the hours put into open source projects, think of for-profit tools like Visual Studio. Microsoft spends tons of money improving that. Additionally, there are lots of programs out there for non-technical people to gain domain knowledge. So what makes those not fulfill your target here? – Matthew Haugen♦ 22 hours ago