This is an abstract from a white paper I’m writing in response to the need to “do something” positive, collaborative, and world-bettering. It also pulls together a lot of things I have been working on over several months. The paper will serve as the basis for funding proposals to various stakeholders. Any and all comments very welcome. And if you are interested in ideas like this, please join the Facebook page for Petrichor (here).
Climate change, the automation of repetitive tasks and its effect on the landscape of labour, food scarcity, access to clean water. We face problems that cannot be tackled other than on a global level, through collaborations of the best minds available working with all available resources to bring every available perspective to …bear, to explore the resulting possibilities, and implement the most promising. At this time of greatest need, many of the minds best placed to contribute to solutions are locked out of formal research networks – through ill-fortune or ill-health, through circumstance, through structural funding deficits, or through never having had the opportunity to engage with or become part of that community in the first place. This paper proposes a mechanism for unlocking the potential of those minds to address these issues in order to improve lives, to provide hope and opportunity, to find ways of working on the global and extreme local scale so as to build a progressive and sustainable world. That mechanism is a tripartite exchange platform that provides on the one side multiple funding streams to cover the costs of providing technology, training, travel and time for people outside of formal research, on a second side a forum for anyone who wishes to pitch ideas for research backing from those streams, and on the third side a means for those within a formal research environment to provide resources to enable that research, from skills training to materials. This model is able to function on a very small scale, allowing it first of all to serve as a proof of concept for a much larger, global iteration of essentially the same structure. Tangible outputs would comprise a series of open access working and white papers and proceedings from events that would provide the basis for further research from those within and outside of the scheme. As important would be the results mentioned above that come from such an unlocking of human potential.