I’m extremely optimistic about humanity’s potential. Human ingenuity is amazing.
But humanity’s progress in science and tech is slower than it could be, and our efforts are laughably inefficient. Our challenge as a species is how to effectively utilize and deploy the sum total of our intellect and resources, towards shared goals.
In many ways, we’re still a nascent civilization, and the vast majority of us are still subsisting like other animal species — the average human’s daily activity includes nothing more than earning a living (to survive), reproducing and nurturing its progeny, and trifling pleasures.
Only a tiny few among us are contributing to the technological advancement and evolution of our species, which is, on a macro level, the most crucial to our long-term survival. And even those who do, face an incredible amount of friction and tough barriers that further slow down scientific progress.
A huge reason is that humans are extremely limited in their ability to utilize the ideas and experiences of other humans to accelerate their own discovery and problem-solving processes:
- Knowledge barriers: Our ability to learn is limited. It’s hard to know enough about other disciplines to fluidly extract insights and reapply them.
- Language barriers: Billions of people only speak their local language.
- Resource & information sharing: Free movement of information and resources (funds, materials, equipment, etc) roadblocked by geographical, economic, political, or social barriers.
These limitations are not due to physics, but due to the biological limitations of the human brain.
However, we’ve arrived at a place where all of these problems can be solved, to a large extent, using current technology. By building the right tools and infrastructure, we can make untold leaps in our species’ technological journey, even with our primitive brains that haven’t evolved for 40,000+ years.
DenseLayers (and its parent company, SANPRAM Research Inc) was founded to work on exactly this mission.
DenseLayers exists to enable 10X easier and faster absorption and inter-domain transfer of human scientific knowledge.
And we are making progress every day.
As technology advances, these tools and infrastructure will only get better, and our species will be able to extract and deploy more and more of its unutilized intellectual power.
We’re not the first people to work this — in their own ways, platforms like Wikipedia and ArXiv are giants whose shoulders we’re standing on. DenseLayers’ contribution is in bringing the same digital revolution to science.
The crux of the issue is to reform the way humans participate in “scientific discourse.”
The format of discourse has evolved greatly throughout history, but a few things have stayed the same: it has always been in small pockets, with limited geographical scale. Over time, science or math would travel via trading routes, such as how the Arabs took the zero (0) from Southern India and brought it to Europe (where it was seen as “dark Saracen magic” as it represented nothingness). Chinese alchemists invented gunpowder as a medicinal substance decades before the first “fire arrow” was ever shot, and a good century or two before it started traveling westward in large quantities on the backs of Mongol horsemen.
Overall, from ancient universities to “learned societies” (where affluent intellectuals would gather during the weekend to have fun talking science), sharing scientific findings with others has been an extremely informal and organic process.
In fact, the first science “journals” were born in these societies (such as The Royal Society of London), in the form of newsletters distributed to their members. Even Benjamin Franklin’s famous experiment, the “Electrical Kite,” was first published as a letter to the Royal Society to be discussed by other members!
This was Science 1.0.
This changed in the mid-20th century, with the advent of large, commercial scientific publications and the structured “academic paper.” All thanks to a shrewd businessman named Robert Maxwell — he first decided to go and acquire every physical science publisher across the seven seas, and after capturing the whole market, told universities that if they wanted to get published at all, they’d have to give him free labour — and then pay exorbitant sums of money each year to access the very publications they helped fill with their content. The process of distributing scientific findings and ideas also became quite formal and bureaucratic. This is Science 2.0.
We know the rest of the story. Today, the very research papers that were meant to distribute science far and wide, have become harder to read than ever before, even for the top scientists of their fields, and prohibitively expensive to access, making inter-domain knowledge transfer even harder.
At DenseLayers, we are developing a new model for scientific discourse — a “learned society of global scale” — from the ground up. My vision for the platform is that it will look like a collection of frontier research niches, from Deep Reinforcement Learning to Synthetic Biology, ever evolving and cross-pollinating. It will be the go-to place for scholars from across the world, regardless of their language or background, to come and “talk science” in a fun social environment, where they help each other learn and understand new science.
Science 3.0 is about restoring the organic and free-flowing nature of the last 5,000 years of science, and make it 10x more open and accessible — while fixing the “loopholes” that allowed predatory journals to hijack the last 70 years and put up roadblocks that stifle innovation.
A 1,000 Year Vision: Reality or Insanity?
If I haven’t said it yet, I’d like to declare it now that I intend for DenseLayers to exist, in some shape or form, for the next millenium or longer.
I also happen to believe that it is attainable. Let’s discuss how.
What kind of human constructs typically last hundreds or thousands of years, intact and thriving?
One might think of the Pyramids. The Great Wall of China.
But much better examples are social constructs — such as religions (Christianity?), societies and guilds (Freemasons), centers of learning (Cambridge, U.Bologna), and languages (Sanskrit, Armenian?).
In a sense, they’re different forms of communities. Any community that continues to add new members over time, effectively replacing the ones who leave or die, can live forever.
Then, there are ideas and information (teachings of Pythagoras, Socrates or Laozi), etc. They too can get transmitted via person to person — like a virus.
If we do DenseLayers right, organically building a human community at scale, I see no reason why it can’t uphold itself for millennia, continuously evolving with technology, past the current computer age, eventually transcending planetary boundaries and connecting astronaut-scientists exploring the galaxy. (Until the human species itself evolves or collapses such that “discourse” itself is no longer needed, of course…)
At DenseLayers, we’re building the tools that the next Isaac Newton, Aryabhatta, Marie Curie, or Ada Lovelace will use to accelerate their life’s work.
Or, maybe we’ll build a model that someone else will further refine and make better, and then that thing exists for the rest of time. Whatever works.