The Most Important Problems

Mathematician Richard Hamming made a habit of asking scientists from other disciplines, "What are the most important problems in your field?"

The question was mostly a setup for the follow up:

"Why aren't you working on them?"

Of course, there are many reasons to not be working on the most important problems in your industry. For one, your skills might be a better fit for a problem of lesser consequence. Or, you may simply enjoy working on something else.

But the two-part question is a good way to step back and examine the broader picture.

What would the opportunity to tackle the most important problems in your field look like? And how could you apply your unique combination of skills to them?

Via Paul Graham and Jacob Falkovich.


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