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What I'm Working On

Table of Contents

Here are short descriptions of some of the projects I'm actively working on.

I like to work on very many projects at once (even though I can work on most only sporadically) because I find that having them in the back of my mind means that occasionally I'll think of a helpful new idea and be able to make sudden progress.

One of my rules for life is never let an idea go. I always write an idea down, even if it seems useless. That's because I seldom think of an idea at the right time or in the right place. Usually, I'm busy with something else, so I can't devote much time to thinking about it, or I don't yet know enough to see the full potential of the idea. Writing it down means I can revisit it later. Many of my projects have come from revisiting an idea years later, finally seeing how to bring it to fruition.

Want to Get Involved?

If you find any of these projects compelling and want to get involved, I would love to collaborate! Just reach out to me.


Live at Kensington Film (Liam Hale)

Descriptionconcert film of original music
Statusnearly done

I make music under the name Liam Hale. I recently recorded a live album called Live at Kensington (available on all streaming platforms), and I took lots of footage while doing so. I'm nearly done making a concert film of it.

Want to Get Involved?

I'm an amateur (but enthusiastic) video editor — see my music videos on the Songwriting page. I would love to work with someone who actually knows what they're doing. If video editing is your thing, and you want to collaborate, email me at Contact@LiamHale.com!

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Anonymous

Descriptionsculpture and interactive performance art piece about identity and censorship
Statusdesigned but not built

In part because my day job is running Verified Inc., a company devoted to verified identity online, I think a lot about anonymity on the internet. It's such a deeply inhuman — and yet now commonplace — experience to interact with an anonymous account online. With the rise of generative AI, it's no longer possible to tell if they're even a real person.

To explore these ideas, I'm creating an large inflatable sculpture called Anonymous. I'll display it publicly, and people will stand inside it, shielded from the outside world. Inside, there will be a microphone, so they can say anything they like. I think this will be a fascinating way to see how people change when they can be anonymous.

I've nearly completed the designs and have purchased the materials I need (if they work as expected). But there's still a lot of work to do.

Want to Get Involved?

If you're interested in participating in this art project, I'd be glad to involve you, especially if you can help think of creative ways to spread the word about the project.

Since it comments on the nature of identity online, for example on social media platforms, it would be fitting to go viral on those platforms!

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Abstraction

Descriptionmeta theory of physics
Statuspreliminary research — it's a moonshot!

One of my current obsessions is pursuing a theory of what can be known. Given a theory of physics, assuming it’s fundamental, what can we derive from it? How well can we predict a future observation, and how efficiently?

I call this idea abstraction (building off of notions of abstraction in programming, math, and elsewhere): reducing detail while preserving essence. What counts as "detail" and "essence" of course depends on what we want to know. And the task of developing a theory of abstraction is making that concrete.

There are dozens of related ideas that I'm gradually stumbling on: coarse graining, renormalization, holography, emergence, universality, compression, indistinguishability obfuscation, rate distortion, complexity, computability, etc. If you know of more, please let me know!

I’m motivated by a simple fact that the imagined “theory of everything” in fundamental physics will be far from that: it will at most be a theory of everything fundamental, while having little or nothing to say about anything beyond that. In other words, such a theory of "everything" would clarify what happens inside a black hole, but it will say nothing at all about society, economics, materials science, or even chemistry.

A more poetic motivation is the image of Richard Feynman stepping outside his office at Los Alamos, marveling at how — despite the fact that we know enough physics to build an atom bomb — we don’t even understand the physics of the clouds overhead. (The chaotic fluid dynamics that govern clouds is far less well understood.)

In other words, progress is not just “down” (more and more fundamental) but “up”. And yet down has received most of the attention.

We seem to exist in a time and place where the universe is at an intermediate level of understandability. We could imagine a universe that could be entirely described by simple laws, from which the entire future and past are derivable with perfect precision. We could also imagine a universe which can only be experienced and never understood, where there is no way of knowing what will happen next other than waiting for the next moment to occur.

Either extreme might be impossible, but neither applies in our case: chaos and Heisenberg uncertainty mean there will always be much we cannot know, but the extraordinary success of current physics shows there is much we do know. Abstraction is about making concrete what it's possible for us to know — and how efficiently.

I have much more to say, but all of these thoughts are extremely half baked! Stay tuned...

Want to Get Involved?

I'm very open to collaborating on this research, so if you're interested in doing so reach out to me.

Part of what makes this research difficult is that it aims to tie together notions from a wide range of fields, where the terminology differs substantially. The best antidote to this is collaborating with people with different experience who can together translate between terms and concepts.

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A Mortal Man

Descriptionplay about the quest for amortality
Statuspreliminary outline

I want to write a play motivated by a simple question:

What would you do if you had a fatal disease?

The disease here is just life itself, or rather death by natural causes. We all have it, and we all have limited time.

Most people accept that this is the normal order of things. Some yearn for immortality in a divine conception. Some create art they hope will outlast themselves. Some live in the moment and spend their days doing what they love.

But the main character of this play believes the only sane thing to do is to spend every possible moment trying to cure the disease. Amortality is the only sensible goal.

People say he's crazy, but is he? He says he found the cure, but did he? Ultimately he dies, or does he?

I'm hoping to write the play in verse if possible. The premise feels very elemental to me, almost Shakespearean if you will. I'm not sure what form of verse would be best, but I think it would be more compelling in verse than in prose.

Want to Get Involved?

If you want to collaborate on this, reach out to me.

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Untitled by Anonymous NFTs (fArtism)

DescriptionNFT version of the blank canvas
Statushaven't started

My fArtism website already sells Untitled by Anonymous, a blank canvas that epitomizes the sardonic postmodern masterworks of that great unknown farcical artist, Anonymous him/her/them/itself. It's only natural that there would be Untitled by Anonymous NFTs. (Farcical art is the perfect — and perhaps only — use case for NFTs!)

Want to Get Involved?

If you know your way around NFTs and want to innovate your way into the art history books, reach out to me.

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The Big Ideas Project

Descriptionpodcast and blog about the biggest ideas in every field
Statusbrainstorming

In my experience, every field of inquiry has some "big ideas" that deeply impact how one sees the world. Often, these ideas are contained in introductory classes, but they're seldom highlighted as such — because those classes are meant to be starting points for further work within the field, not outside it. Confoundingly, experts in a field are often too wrapped up in the details to understand which ideas from their discipline are ones everyone else should know.

The Big Ideas Project will be an effort to surface these big ideas. It will pose a simple question to people from every field:

What is one big idea from your field that everyone else should know?

Everyone else means those not in the person's field, and that makes this question not as easy as it seems. When I ask it, people almost always first express ideas that are technical and only of interest to people within the field. Those ideas, after all, are the ones that experts are preoccupied by.

For example, here's an bad answer from my own field of Physics (what I studied in college), typical of the unhelpful initial answers I often get:

Renormalization allows you to derive effective field theories, avoiding infinities that result from assuming that the validity of current physics extends to scales we have no access to.

That's gobbledygook to anyone who's not a physicist! Although it's a big idea from physics, it's not a big idea everyone else should know.

Here's my own attempt at a good answer for Physics:

Approximations sacrifice a little bit of accuracy for a lot of clarity.

In other words, being a little wrong helps you understand the core of how something works. Being exactly right, if it's even possible, often muddies the water.

I hope The Big Ideas Project can be a grand tour through the great ideas of different fields, a fun and accessible way to expand our ways of thinking about the world.

Want to Get Involved?

If you'd like to help with this or contribute a big idea, reach out to me!

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Startup Artist

Descriptionpodcast, blog, and book about making it in the music industry by treating yourself as a startup
Statuspreliminary outline

Since I'm both an entrepreneur and a musician, it dawned on me at some point that there are surprisingly many parallels between startups and artists. To name a few:

  • Artists are founders of their brands and CEOs of their teams.
  • They can raise money from VC firms (record labels).
  • They can attend accelerator programs (bootcamps, conservatories).
  • They sell products (music, merchandise, tickets).
  • They work with suppliers and subcontractors (merchandise suppliers, producers, venues).

My thesis is that artists should operate like startups. There's a large body of thought around how to build companies, and I think this entrepreneurial thinking would be extremely helpful to music artists trying to make it.

Want to Get Involved?

If you're an agent or publisher and this book concept interests you, or if you're in the music industry and want to talk, reach out to me.

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The Truths of Fake News (reboot)

Descriptionvideo and blog series about how fake news works
Statusonly needs small tweaking

With the 2024 US presidential election on the horizon, it's time reboot The Truths of Fake News! My major failing last time was not doing any marketing or promotion, so that will be my focus this time.

Want to Get Involved?

It would be especially helpful to collaborate with someone who knows how to spread the word effectively. If you know how to do that and want to help, reach out to me.

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Trump Donald (reboot)

Descriptionplatform to donate to the democrats every time Trump tweets
Statusonly needs small tweaking

With the 2024 US presidential election on the horizon, it's time reboot Trump Donald! Trump is back on X (formerly Twitter), but he's only tweeted (posted?) once since being allowed back on. So Trump Donald may need to work every time Trump "truths" on Truth Social or something similar.

Want to Get Involved?

It would be especially helpful to collaborate with someone who knows how to spread the word effectively. If you know how to do that and want to help, reach out to me.

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