The Trifecta – Strategic Priorities for a Modern Society (from an engineer’s perspective)

Posted on July 31, 2023. Written by: Pratul Venkatesh

I have always wondered about how to solve different challenges people face, and at least for me I think about how best to help towards these challenges with innovations in technology (mostly.) At times it feels like there are so many challenges, and one can dedicate a significant investment be it time or money, or one can spend their entire lifetime on a solution, but still would be able to mostly solve only a few of those numerous challenges. To make the highest impact my approach is to focus on innovations in the top three fields, that will then serve as a foundation for many others. When there is a fire, you still need to be able to put it out- you still need buckets of water and you still need a good fire truck, but the best impact for the future is building stronger foundations and fireproofing, attempting to solve it at the core. For example, cleaning up littered beaches is important, and just as important is preventing future littering. Be it changing the sources of litter or the habits of the people. At the core of it all, I believe that currently technological innovations in the three key fields of- energy, education, and food, can be the most impactful to all other industries and social challenges. These form the Trifecta, strategic priorities for a modern society. In the following paragraphs I will share some examples about how innovations in the fields can directly, and sometimes indirectly, solve many problems. Do note these are broad classifications that I have presented, to be taken only as a starting reference.
By sharing this, by starting my blog, I hope to share my motivations and inspire others to take up similarly aligned initiatives. By myself I can only do so much, but collectively we have the power to do a lot more. It will also thus become a commitment on my part, to try and work best towards this.

The Trifecta – Strategic Priorities for a Modern Society (from an engineer’s perspective) : Energy. Education. Food.


Don’t aim for the moon. Shoot for the stars and take the moon with you (or atleast something along those lines.) By working towards the biggest challenges, even if not completely successful, the efforts towards a larger goal, would still be greater than if one worked just towards smaller goals. So I aim big, and think how to maximize the impact of my work and so I wish to focus my efforts towards innovations in the trifecta.

Energy – Electricity, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and Resilience.


The biggest limiter of a modern technological society is energy. Abundance of it helps everyone. Apart from direct implications such as uninterrupted home power supplies, it indirectly can help solve other problems.
In some places a lot of problems such as traffic, pollution, un-employment, could be attributed to high population density that calls that requires a lot of planning! With electricity, more sustainable and reliable transportation operations – electric cars, high speed electric trains, more buses, etc can be made that reduce the need for people to be concentrated in dense urban areas as you can live further away and just commute everyday over a larger distance! De-centralization of industries trends towards this as well, and for non-remote jobs transportation is the limiter.
On the topic of road quality, electric trucks and vehicles are much lighter. Not needing heavy trucks on the road can slow down road deterioration and especially overloading and bad trucking practices deteriorate the road faster leading to potholes.
Uninterrupted and power resilient manufacturing hubs are important too, a main consideration for many partners and investors is a production facility that would not be impacted by power outages, due to lack of production or extreme weather events (also which would be set to rise with climate change.) Good power supply and un-interrupted operations is a marketable attribute of production facilities, and thus can help towards attracting investments, which leads to more innovations.
Some industries too such as the semiconductor industry quite literally need uninterrupted power supplies, the lack of which leads to massive inefficiencies and difficulties in resuming operations.
An obvious reason more improvements in the energy sector are needed and to be prioritized at this moment is to be combat climate change, with renewable energy and more energy storage methods helping towards this. Extreme weather events seem to be increasing. We need to innovate in energy production to help towards this, to prevent outages, and to be resilient.

I admit to an extent some of the indirect benefits mentioned are wishful thinking. Though rather I would see it as, if someone decided to take up this as a solution to the problem, then well electricity shouldn't be a limiting aspect. The foundation of modern society and its backbone, is quite well, electricity.
 

Education


Improve education, and you can fix a lot more things in society from the core.
Speaking towards the Indian education system as that is what I have experience in, more rational thinking modules, identifying and encouraging orginal works, mastery of languages and communication, philosophy, and something quite lacking- respect and appreciation for arts, are all bullet points of things I felt was inadequate. With regards to art, people expect and want nice things in life, but no one wants to support artists :/ This support extends to other fields too, such as architecture and city scaping.
Lifelong learning, re-skilling centres, not teaching to teach but rather teaching individuals the ability to learn and lateral thinking, that is what would help a lot of people. Currently we need more generalists than specialists in this rapidly changing modern world.
AI will help towards improving technical education. What a school does, and can focus on doing better, is teaching people to be a part of, and fitting into a functioning human society. How to deal with life’s challenges, how to do all the adulting things in life, personal health and fitness (inclusive for everyone), the things that are important in life, the things that destroying society and how to protect oneself, all of this, all of this needs to be taught in schools, and by parents at home too.
It is a big world out there. There are people of so many many different backgrounds, cultures and views and ways of thinking. It’s beautiful really, this aspect of life. How to interact with well, and be able to work together constructively, with people of different ways of thinking is important too. Respect everyone.
These are some of my thoughts on education. I will explore how good education impacts things in other ways through other blog posts of mine. I strongly believe if you improve education, you can create more capable people who will take up more things that need to be worked on, and one can help towards other socio—economic issues as well. Considering professions, I admire and respect teachers the most.

Food – (incl. heath and medicine)


This broad bucket considers many different things such as food security, the medicine field and health. The field of medicine is of vast significance and needs no mention. It is much bigger, and I don’t mean to offend, but I only present food and good nutrition as a foundational aspect of society, the main heading in the trifecta list, as it is something that needs to be prioritized, but is not. A lot of health issues stem from poor nutrition. If you can help improve food security and ensure a good nutrition, FOR EVERYONE, EVERY SINGLE PERSON, then it leads to good health, good thinking, and enables the mind to think, the mind that seems to be so horribly limited by nutrition. Convenient, healthy, and affordable food options available to everyone is something I believe should a foremost priority in a society.
Good education on food science and nutrition helps everyone. Education on medicine and how it helps too is essential. For example, what is the cause of an ailment. Is it something that the body ultimately recovers from by itself, or does it need external remedies. A painkiller (anti-inflammatory) reduces the body’s immune response to alleviate inflammation symptoms. But the inflammation is important for the body to locate and fight pathogens. Too much inflammation can damage the body though. Thus, it is a balancing act. Trust in doctors, but what we as well need to be able to, is to be able make informed choices.


This blog post is a culmination of some thoughts from the various experiences in the twenty revolutions of the planet earth around the sun, that I have been in. For each I have so many other thoughts and elaborations upon which I can continue to discuss on endlessly. I hope to present some of it through my blog. These are some of my motivations and passions. The things that I work on, the things which I have found to help myself, the things I thus hope to share with others, and to provide information for others to adapt maybe a few parts to their lives, for the overall betterment. I believe one shouldn’t limit yourself to one way of thinking. Be open to, discover, study, and observe everything, find what best fits for you, and slowly adapt it into your life. We’re all in this together.