Wall Facers

I’m currently reading the second book of the TriSolar Sci-Fi series by Cixin Liu, I’ve only just started it so this post can’t have spoilers for it and I will also only have minimal spoilers for the first book (nothing more than you will get from pop culture references to it).

In the second book there are people called “Wall Facers” who have broad powers to shape the course of the Human response to an alien invasion in 400+ years time. The idea is that as the aliens have an ability to see everything that can be seen on Earth any ideas that leave the brain of one person can be snooped on, so if some people act independently without communicating their plans they can take the aliens by surprise. While that is probably going to work out well in the books history in general seems to show that people who act independently without any useful feedback from others tend to perform poorly, every king and dictator seems to demonstrate this.

Efficient Work

I’ve been thinking about what I would do if I had significant powers to guide the response to an alien threat in some hundreds of years. The first thing to do would be to get all people working as efficiently as possible. Without the imminent threat of alien invasion we can have debates about how much time to spend working vs leisure time. Should we make 24 hours per week the new normal work week? But if the threat of annihilation is looming then the discussion should be about how to get as many people as possible working as much as possible.

Currently 1/4 of the world population lack access to safe drinking water [1], there’s a plan to “achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030”. But 2030 isn’t soon enough, another 8 years where 1/4 of children born won’t reach their potential due to poor water is unacceptable. Currently 13% of the world population don’t have access to electricity and 40% don’t have access to clean fuels for cooking [2]. Lack of energy access reduces health and opportunities for education. Healthcare is another major obstacle to human development and therefore economic development. Even some allegedly first-world countries like the US lack universal affordable healthcare.

I think we could reasonably get safe water to 99% of the world population before 2025 if we tried hard (IE applied a small fraction of the resources of a single war to it). Getting electricity to 95% of the world population and clean cooking fuels to 90% of the world population are probably achievable goals for 2025 as well.

Healthcare is a slightly harder problem as we need to train more nurses and doctors. A registered nurse apparently needs 3 years of training after completing high school. We may have to improve high schools to get more students up to the standard of nursing degrees. If it takes 3 years to improve schools in year 9+ and then 3 years to get more high school graduates that would mean that it would take about 9 years to get an increase in nurses. Doing this would require increasing the capacity of universities and making university almost free (as it was for decades). So in about 2031 we could start sending a significant number of nurses from developed countries to help out developing countries.

Becoming a doctor apparently requires 8 years of study plus a minimum of 3 years “residency”. So if doctors were entirely trained in first world countries then we wouldn’t be able to send many doctors to developing countries until 2039. If the “residency” was performed in other countries then it could be as early as 2036.

According to the WHO currently only half the world’s population have adequate healthcare [3]. To get adequate healthcare to the world we need to more than double the number of doctors because currently we don’t have enough in countries with decent healthcare systems such as Australia. It would probably take to at least 2060 to get enough doctors trained. The end goal of course would be to have every country able to train enough of it’s citizens to provide all medical services, but countries that have serious widespread healthcare problems that reduce the number of people who can pursue higher education will have difficulty in that until some of the healthcare problems are alleviated.


Obviously education is important to all achievements. Currently education seems very poorly run, it is possible to create a school system that teaches children effectively without the bullying that is common in Australia and without the sort of pressure that South Korea is infamous for. One of the main issues to resolve with the school system is the idea that everyone should learn at the same speed, that goal can only be achieved by making the majority of the students learn slowly. Students should be able to freely skip ahead as their skill permits and finish school at any age. Also high school isn’t for everyone, the “tech” schools that teach trades need to be brought back.

Deceiving Aliens

A plot point in the TriSolar series is that the aliens can see each other’s thoughts, the local communication (their equivalent to talking) is based on reading each other’s thoughts without the possibility of deception. While deceptive written communication is potentially possible for them they haven’t developed skills in that area.

As a first step towards exploiting this humans could focus more on linguistic development that increases language complexity, such as the way the English language adopts words from other languages and gives them slightly different meanings – for example the difference between “driver” and “chauffeur” and the difference between “dog” and “hound” is not obvious to many Europeans who otherwise speak English fluently.

When involved in conversation it’s possible to convey meaning without directly stating things, this is used extensively by people who are interested in security. My observations of this are based on conversations with people who do government work, but I imagine that criminal organisations also do similar things for similar reasons.

An increased focus on poetry in schools might be helpful in developing skills for conveying ideas to people who think in human ways where the message is unclear to non-humans who have no experience of deception. I wonder whether the ability to understand human poetry would make aliens less hostile to humans, if they can think like us then they would be less likely to want to exterminate us.

Poker is a game that depends on the ability to deceive others, I’ve never been any good at it. I wonder if making it part of the school curriculum would help improve the overall human ability to deceive aliens. I don’t think that such schools would become dens of sociopathy as depicted in Kakegurui, but it might have some negative results.

Spreading education to a larger portion of the world’s population requires more use of electronic education. Anything learned via text can be more easily assimilated by aliens than things that are learned directly from other people. For high school and the basics of a university degree this is fine. But for more advanced education it seems that having a large face to face component might help keep the value away from the aliens.

More Ideas?

What do you think I missed on this list? I wasn’t trying to list every possibility, just the more important ones. Also for any goals other than increasing inequality for it’s own sake we should improve health and education for the world.

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