Josh Davis

I'm currently an Engineer working on machine learning at AWS and am living in Seattle.

I like to learn, pet kittens, and wear fluffy socks.

I never save anything for the swim back.

17 July 2013

Where Do I Sign Up to Change the World?

The title of this post was inspired by an idea that came to my head in the last month or so about my future. I will be graduating from university in this upcoming May of next year after taking 3 semesters off because of internships/co-ops. I’m at the point where I need to start to make decisions about my future.

The only thing that I’m certain of at this point is that I want to leave this world having made it a better place than when I came into it.

You might think that it sounds incredibly cheesy, but I agree. Though the thing that I’ve come to realize over the last year was described the best by Google’s current CEO, Larry Page, during this year’s Google IO. Here’s the clip:

I cut out the quote just in case you don’t want to watch the video:

Despite the faster change we have in the industry. We are still moving slow relative to the opportunities that we have. And some of that, I think, is due to the negativity … We should be building great things that don’t exist, right?

Although he’s just talking about the media and its negativism, I can’t help but feel the same sentiment. I would much rather be hopelessly optimistic than cynically pessimistic.

So, where do I sign up?

I’ve come across another quote that is just a question that perfectly sums up how I am feeling as I wonder about what I want to do after I graduate. This time the quote is from Elon Musk.

If you don’t know who Elon Musk is, you need to find out now. Go to YouTube and find some of his interviews. I’ve said it before, but I have a feeling that a hundred years from now, he will be considered a modern prophet.

The quote is from his TED Talk that he gave. He was asked what caused him to start an all-electric car company. Here’s what he said:

Well, it goes back to when I was in university. I thought about, what are the problems that are most likely to affect the future of the world or the future of humanity?

This was really profound when I heard him say this. I think it’s really rare to hear about a person that starts a business to change the world. I feel that too often we hear about people starting a business to make money, or to gain fame, or to gain power. While it certainly isn’t true for all businesses, I feel that it is true for more than what it should be.

Conclusion

As I come upon these major life decisions in the next six months, I can only try my best to keep these two things in mind:

  1. I want to build things that don’t exist.
  2. I want to work on problems that are most likely to affect the future of the world and humanity.

I still don’t know yet where I need to go to sign up on this list. All I know is that I’m searching for it. I’m just being hopelessly optimistic that my preparation and an opportunity will come along to make some luck.

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