Engineering vs Science in Medicine and the Scale of Technology - 2 of 5

Engineering vs Science in Medicine and the Scale of Technology - 2 of 5

April 25, 2020

Half-readable machine-made transcription.

[00:15:03.440] - Original video starting at this time


What are these key things that we're missing that we could ask?

What is the the way that a human can be healthy? If we ask that there's some natural answers that pop up, people might point to to diet or exercise, and then those are important.

But it misses something that's perhaps even the more obvious thing, which is how we interact with our natural environment in ways that cause problems, in ways that have been well established to be problematic for our health.

And specifically, we can look at variation and different signals.

So excercises is a mechanical signal, a stressor to which our body adapts, but our body response to other things too that people are just starting to get interested in.

Now such as light. So with lighting, some people are aware that getting a lot of bright light at night is going to disrupt sleep. The thing people don't always realize is that not getting enough light during the day is also going to cause a lot of problems. And in fact, it makes you more sensitive to the effects of light at night. So you can look at this any way you want, whether it's just higher rates of breast cancer, depression, mortality.

And then if you look at sunlight in general, a lot of people are scared of sunlight. But the reality is lack of sunlight is positively correlated with all causes mortality. So if you want to die, then you should avoid the sun if you don't want to die. You need to be getting sunlight.

But obviously that's not a very practical proposition in modern society. We live and and operate out of buildings.

And so I don't want to abandon. Technology, I love technology. It's great, but we have some technical debt to it. Some problems that we have left unresolved from our technology that now in fact, we can address without much difficulty. But we have to understand what the problems are to fix them. So for starters, if we look at how bright our environments are because of how the eye works, you can see on a logarithmic scale, as you can see, a huge number of orders, magnitude of brightness.

And inside a building you're typically seeing about a hundred X less light than you would if you're just standing outside on a sunny day. So so that's the first mission. Of course, there's you relay and infrared light and you're not getting either of those if you're inside. So that drops down to zero. And those both have critical biological functions. Some other things are, of course, temperature variability. We're not getting heat. We're not getting cold. It's hard to know exactly what the order of magnitude is in terms of the relative impact of each of those.

But it's pretty clear that by having all those things not in place, we worsen our health.

And so the problem with how health care tries to operate is it's trying to fix the harmful effects of things like lack of sunlight and and all these lifestyle things. And so there look, if you're looking at what happens genetically, because another thing that's not very useful, it makes slow progress, but you're never really going to be able to overturn what's happening. Looking at the molecular level, it's much easier and much more effective to just fix the high level things.

We know how lights work. We know how temperature works. Now, of course, most of the lights we have are absolutely terrible on organ and things like that now.

But it's it's in fact very easy to fix these things, which is why I'm going to. And so most of these videos are going to be explaining different components of sunlight. What is each part of the spectrum? Do you how do indoor lights work? Why did we get the particular indoor lights that we have? What sort of spectrum do those lights have? Why is that problematic? Why are pretty much all lights very, very low in terms of color quality and the aesthetic value of lights is not there?

And why is that the case? And also why the the approach of just like the make making smart, why small iterations to lights are not going to be able to solve these things.

That's getting back into that. The nano material type approach of can we just tweak this one little thing and then suddenly have everything fixed and you can't. You need to just start from scratch and say, what is a human need? What sort of dose of different frequencies? And then just actively build around the person for the environment they are in rather than building the environment and thinking about the fact that a person will be in there, their. So that's that's a very different approach.

I want to talk a little bit about something called the scale of technology and it relates to how we make progress and where should we be focusing our attention. So one thing I mentioned is now we know it's possible to to create the strongest perils in the universe, which is your five axis carbon fiber, 3D printing. But there are a lot of other approaches that people are taking to Ted Vann's technology. You're looking at sort of big things like aerospace to just stick to one area.

You have people building really big planes, for instance.

You have your straddle launch. And if you don't know what that is, the ideas sort of take two planes and gluing together, so to speak, and then launch, have that fly up and then launch a rocket that is held in between it. So if you when you're close to the earth, you have much higher gravitational forces. They need a lot more energy to launch from the ground. If you lift up with a plane, which is going to have engines that are far more efficient and burn a lot less fuel, and then you can launch from a higher elevation and you can have a more cost effective system.

So that's one approach.

That's the sort of the big and the small. The nano materials don't even then they're not at the table.

You could think about them, but that was that's been mentioned previously. So nano materials aren't really driving things very much. So between your five access, carbon, and your plane. Then you have to ask why not both? Or something like that. Why can't you just take your really big scale innovations and just pull in every other sort of innovative technology? And it's sort of similar to why you can't just bring carbon nanotubes into everything which is making big things is is pretty expensive.

Making big things is pretty expensive, especially in aerospace.

So if you want to make something that is a new business model, so let's say you're like stratolaunch launching rockets. That's pretty challenging. If you're Boeing and you're just making another plane, you know pretty well that there's going to be demand for the plane within some variability. You try to optimize for how many seats and how wide should and should it be things like that. So if you're looking at an airplane, you know, there's going to be demand for that if you're just making a regular airplane.

So there's not a ton of risk with that. So if you're making an airplane where there's not a ton of market risk, that is it's very low market risk overall.

You can get some variability in demand. But, you know, people are buying aircraft and there's a huge backlog. So if you're able to integrate something that's better, even if, let's say it costs more.

If it's going to save money in the long run, because, you know, you're going to be around that long and you know, you're going to continue selling planes, you want to try to bring in those technologies. But if you're a straddle onge and you have a new business model, what you want is to expend as little resources as possible to prove that the business model works, which means that you do not want new technology.

You want to use what is proven and reliable and mitigate risk in every technological aspect that you can, because there's still business risk that needs to be proven out. So it's quite possible that something like straddle launch could succeed and could become a viable business and then change everything about how rockets are launched. If it doesn't succeed though, then it might end up having little value to anything else. So it's it's a question of what scale do you want to focus on with something like five axis carbon fiber.

That's something that when you can deploy that you know, that that's going to impact everything in aerospace. When you get to nano materials, you have the technology risk, which is can you actually make a meaningful advancement with this in a way that's that's really going to work.

And so what I would suggest as the optimal technology scale of technology lies somewhere in the middle if you want maximum leverage. You want something that's at a high enough level that there is not endless technology and scientific risk. And you want something that's not so high that it's just a business play. So one problem we have today is that because of how monetary policy and money works now, there's a huge incentive to to push the scale of operations toward the business side rather than the technology side, just making large structures that don't have a technology advance that are just gambling on a new business plan.

So that's why you see something like over a hundred small satellite launchers when small satellites today are a tiny market versus something that could impact every rocket that's being launched and also all these other ones should the business model become viable. And that's why you get economic bubbles. It's people developing things before there's really a need for them before they would arise organically in a in a natural market economy.

The problem with medicine and healthcare is it goes to the opposite extreme of these really low level things because we have seen advances at a small scale. If you look at germ theory, you know, that's pretty good that we have antibiotics, vaccines, and those have been very effective.

The problem is that those were actually developed largely by accident. You know, it's it's great that that we have them, but it's not that we had a push to develop those things because we wanted to. So now what we have when we look at the genetic approach to disease is that we have now with the genetic approaches is is that people just study these sorts of things because they're easy to study and maybe it's fun, interesting, whatever, but it's not at the scale that it can be deployed efficiently.

And reach meaningful outcomes. A lot of medicine and health care is based on people pretending they're idiots who don't understand basic math. And so what they'll do is they'll take something a single variable and measure that because it's easy to measure and then they'll just make that their target and forget about anything else, about how it interacts with the system.

But there's some things, you know, that health care is quite good at. You know, you have your vaccines, your antibiotics and your trauma care. Those three things are incredibly effective and there's not really any issues with those. Well, there's things like superbugs, antibiotics, but those are very effective. There's no question about that. You have those where you get into problems as we start looking at chronic diseases and how those are treated. And the really fundamental problem with all the the with all of medicine and what it's based on is you can have lots of science and you can make all your science very rigorous.

But if you're building on top of flimsy axioms, it doesn't matter how sound your science is, you're not going to get good results.

And that's really the problem, that science is a process to to ask questions about things that are falsifiable and figure out whether one thing is true or another.

Look at how something works, but it doesn't tell you what direction to go and where you should be looking.

And that's really the problem with medicine. So without saying whether this is or this isn't the case, you can ask hypothetically, what if there were lifestyle factors that were newly introduced, an aberration from how humans operated, that interacted with with various different things. And now you do scientific research for decades and decades, and that's your body of medical knowledge. And it's all based on people who have these confounding variables. And there is no control group because they're systemic variables of modern society.

So you can't separate it out, which means it's all junk.

More or less, except for that control group, which is all of modern human civilization.

So if you want to move beyond that, you don't really have much to work with. You have very little. You have your fundamental biology and things like how cells work and you can get some things. So you're not really starting from zero. But but beyond that, all the medicine and health practices, you have to discard a lot of it if you can figure out a different foundation of lifestyle factors that give you superior results.

And that's unfortunate that we don't really have medicine building off of that because.

Because you could do Madison and you could do science on people who are healthier and you could probably get even better results. I don't know how much better if no one does but you know people like doing science and technology in that's how human civilization goes the promise we haven't really reached the starting line yet. And so that's what I'm interested in figuring out those few key factors. And that's also why I mentioned my background and the fact that I was involved in this materials engineering thing. I'm making the strongest material in the universe. It's it's not to brag or to prove that I am an authority. I'm clearly not an authority and when I'm going to be talking about is not based on taking the authoritative stands the purpose of mentioning the materials is that I might have some insight. I might have some good ideas, but beyond whether I'm looking in the right direction,

Everything I speak about is going to be a self-contained and sort of self Chromebook separate from me. It's just going to be tied to research and numbers and that's most of what I'm going to be doing. I'm going to be running numbers. I mean to be looking at things that people say with products and different parts that people take and saying how does this compare to sound like it's it's really basic. So there's no need for it to be a Thor Tate if it doesn't matter who I am someone else could be saying it what matters is that these are things that I think are worth saying versus something else like your genetic research with the machine learning that you can get funded by a VC's. I don't think that's really a useful way to to get progress for red light is a pretty hot topic these days in the biohacking community or the Health Community of a bunch of different people have started getting interested it in it because over the past.

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