Ryan’s notes

Requests for collaboration

I'm pursuing meaningful full-time work again. These broad themes represent the overlap between what feels worth doing and what I might enjoy doing. I'm searching for great people and organizations working on these topics.

  • Are you interested in collaborating with me on any of these themes?

  • Do any inspiring companies, organizations, or projects come to mind?

  • Are there any specific people you think I should talk to?

If so, please email me!

Climate optimism

The climate crisis is one of the chief inhibitors of optimism today. It’s a grand challenge calling all hands to deck. I believe we can invent our way to a more exciting, sustainable, abundant future.

  1. Push inspiring images of the future — What does thriving look like in 2100 when we ambitiously deploy all the best technologies of today, plus innovations on the near horizon? Ubiquitous electric power, passive solar, good urbanism, automation, an embrace of nature. Create and distribute images broadly to restore a collective sense of a future worth building. Funded artist residency? Mission-driven design agency?

  2. Electrify our homes and businesses — Heat pumps, induction cooktops, and changes to the home & grid required to support increased electricity demand and more variable supply from renewables. This isn’t just about reducing emissions, it’s about deploying machines that make life cheaper, cleaner, better.

  3. Build infrastructure for the carbon removal market — We will need to remove 10+ Gt of carbon from the air each year, and we’re at zero. But with promising technologies, talent, policy incentives, and money, this area will explode. We will need to build infrastructure to trade verifiable high-quality credits.

  4. Make plant-forward diets the new normal — It’s very easy to eat less meat! Make it feel as possible and delicious as it is. Popularize veg-centered cuisines. More condiments. Normalize big-umami ferments. This will be a cultural shift above all else. Encourage more young people; they will act as key nodes in the network (eating is so visible).

Continuous learning

It’s crazy that we graduate school and stop learning in any rigorous way outside of our career. More information is available to us than ever before, but reading retention is notoriously bad for most people. We have online courses for one-off deep-dives, but how can we create integrative patterns for learning that support our natural curiosity?

  1. Build mainstream tools for memory — Retaining basic information is required for understanding more complex ideas, but we don’t practice memory enough. I used to think my memory was "bad," but I’ve found that memory is a choice. Techniques like spaced repetition have helped expand my vocabulary, improve my grasp of world geography, and internalize mental models for combating climate change. But tools like these are nerdy, niche, overly complex, and largely unused.

  2. Deploy AI for learning — We can already get better answers from GPT-3 than from Google and we’re starting to be able to generate original images, audio, and video on demand with text prompts. How can text-to-text, speech-to-text, text-to-image, and text-to-audio be applied to create better tools for learning, and potentially address Bloom's 2-sigma problem?

Thicker relationships

Our transition from extended to nuclear families and our declining social institutions (churches, unions, rotary clubs, etc.) have thinned our social ties. We need to develop new institutions and norms for connection.

  1. Create better tools for friendship — These don’t need to be wildly innovative, just useful. Why can’t I see a list of friends that live in the city I’m visiting? Well-timed prompts to draw my attention to friends and family who aren’t naturally top of mind. A personal trainer for relationships. Some attempts exist, they’re all pretty bad?

  2. Map social institutions in San Francisco — Build a mental map of social institutions here with staying power, and then build a real map. Learn what’s working and what’s missing (and what might need to be created!). I’m especially interested in physical venues—“third places” with consistent characters, multi-generational ones are even better.

These are some additional themes that I care about, but I don’t know how I can effectively contribute. If you’re working in these domains and feel like I could play a meaningful role, I’d love to hear from you.

  • Better cities, especially for families — Cities can be wonderful, inspiring places to raise a family. While many cities are dirty, loud, expensive concrete jungles, they don’t need to be (just travel abroad). Mixed-use zoning. Infill development. Fast-tracked construction with ministerial review. More parks and green spaces. Street design that puts pedestrians and bikes above cars.

  • Nuclear power — Fusion is in a hardcore R&D phase and fission has a big political perception problem. But we need more nuclear (especially over the next century) and it’s stupid that we’re not learning how to make better reactors every year and that we’re decommissioning existing ones that can help us through the transition to renewables.

  • Free-range children — The amount of supervision expected (and demanded by law) from parents today is wild, and it’s not doing kids much good. Give kids freedom of movement and more agency at a younger age; let them walk and bike to school, to the park, to a friend’s house. Let parents make risk-adjusted choices.

  • Quieter machines — It’s amazing how many machines cause violence to our soundscape. Interruptive noises are bad for our human happiness and even worse for other animals. Quieter leaf blowers, chainsaws, airplanes, cars, boats, are all possible.


  • The idea for a "Requests for Collaboration" comes from Paul Fletcher-Hill who shared his own well before me (check it out!).

  • This document is meant to be updated over time as I refine my understanding of the spaces I’m interested in.

  • If you’d like to collaborate with me on smaller side-projects, check out Let's play! for anything that piques your interest.