I was asked this question 10 years ago, when repairing a bicycle wheel in the workshop, and my answer still stands.
“Short-, medium-, or long-term?”
“All of them.”
"My long-term dream project would be to be sitting on a Life-Ship, in orbit around Jupiter in 700 years time, preparing for the journey to Alpha Centauri to go say hello.
In order for this to take place, we’ll need a vast amount of research into materials, longevity, ecological-systems design, terraforming, energy, biology, gerontology, physics, orbital construction, as well as all of the related fields of study.
So in the medium-term, we’ll also need to stabilise our planetary energy use, by making sure that everyone has a good basic standard of living, so that they have the physical and mental well-being to create interesting lives for themselves, so that the 5000 Einsteins can flourish.
( Note: The 5000 Einsteins model holds that if Einstein was a 1 in a million intellect, then there are 5000 potential Einsteins that aren’t fullfilling their potential, as they are struggling for their basic survival needs. Sorting out the baseline standards of living for the bottom 80% of the planet, will automatically be profitable, once the 5000 Einsteins start to flourish. It’s a cheap and easy win that has never been politically acceptable to any nation-state.)
My medium-term aim at that time, was to try and stabilise the world’s energy markets, by creating low-cost, energy-generation technology that people can build for their own use, (which is also why i work on OSHW for the primary industries).
self-contained crop-growing systems that give 200% increase on crop yields, using 50% of the soil, and 20% of the water;
village-scale water-harvesting systems;
OSHW green-houses that allow an extra harvest-cycle per year;
solar-based power-generation systems;
wind-based power-generation systems;
low-energy-cost, sustainable, power-storage systems;
sustainable fertiliser-production and bio-gas-production systems;
All designed to be locally-manufactured, and locally-owned, by the people that are using them.
At the time of this conversation, i was working on a short-term project, which was to use bicycle components to manufacture micro-generation wind-turbines, which is why i was in the middle of dismantling a bike-wheel turbine, in order to see why it was operating outside the expected parameters.
"Look at the wear-patterns on this hub-bearing. "
“It shows how the wheel wasn’t properly trued, as there was un-even wear on the wheel-hub.”
To extend this dream-project, it would be simple to use OSHW CNC-machines to build local Manufacturing Nodes, as a way of building out locally-owned infrastructure co-operatives, which would mean that everyone has enough to eat and drink; has good-quality, climate-appropriate, clothing; has good quality housing; has free access to literacy and education; and, has free access to medical & social care.
This in turn, would create enough breathing space, so that the research could take place, so that we can all go explore the possibilities that the universe has to offer us.