10 Crazy Ideas – one is likely to be BIG!

I have ten crazy ideas. One of these will be a big life-changing or work-changing idea – maybe just for me, but perhaps for many, many people. Here they are:

  1. A spam filter for my phone. If your number is “Unavailable” or “Telemarketer” or “Insufficient Data”, my phone will never ring, and we won’t talk! Optionally, if your company is unknown to me, we won’t talk, either. And optionally, if you are on my “black list”, we won’t talk – ever – we do the black list today, but that’s the extent of a spam filter for the phone.
  2. Streaming media that follows me wherever I go. When I leave the kitchen where CNN is on the TV and step into the breakfast room, CNN will automatically stream to the family room TV when I get there. When I leave my house and get into my car, CNN will stream to my car through my car speakers. When I get to my home office upstairs, CNN will stream to my desktop there. CNN – or whatever I am watching or listening to – will stream to the media system of my choice wherever I go – the best media system wherever I am. Automatically. Without missing a beat.
  3. A universal media license for my own content. If I own a DVD, I should be able to stream it from any source for a data fee if there is one without paying another license fee. Apple is doing this to some degree with iTunes that will stream your music library to any iTunes-compatible device you own without uploading your media to Apple. Sweet. They beat me to this one… We’ll see how this works.
  4. Free education. I am certain that information creation and discovery will happen at an ever increasing pace in the future – hold on to your seat, because this will be a wild ride. How do you manage this? Keep current in your career? Learn new ideas that shape your life and the lives of those around you? Ideas that could be key to a long and happy life? You consume education, that’s how. The pace of change will become so fast that comfortable survival will demand continuous education of everyone. If education costs money, a great many who’s priorities or finances don’t support a learning mission will be left behind. Unless education is free for the taking, that is, and then anyone who wants to learns things of importance – for their entire lives. On our present course, though, a smaller and smaller portion of the population will be able to afford an ongoing education for their entire lives.
  5. A shower and an aerobic exercise machine like a StairMaster on commercial airplanes that cross an ocean. Charge extra for that? Sure, why not. I’d pay.
  6. Virtual movie actors that members of the audience become. What? If you are one of the first in line for a movie, you choose a character in the movie to direct – to become – to act. In a sense, you become one of the characters. You make decisions about the actions of that character within certain bounds, and so do a number of other people in the audience for other characters. Every running of the movie would be a unique experience.
  7. An instant, real-time language translator. Not really so crazy. People are working on this – maybe my good friends at Google… When I phone my good friend in Japan and talk (in English), he should hear MY voice speaking Japanese. And I should hear HIS voice speaking English. Effortlessly.
  8. Local environmental control in the home. Huh? When I am in bed at night, why control the temperature of the rest of the house to the same temperature like we do today? When I am in my home-office, why control the temperature of the bedroom to the same temp? There is so much opportunity to make improvements in energy usage patterns in the home… Someday, we’ll catch on to this. Environmental control should follow people. We do this with lights in some homes today, but anything more extensive demands new construction techniques to isolate spaces. control airflow, and facilitate control from more locations than just one or two thermostats.
  9. A new focus on mental health. Treat the homeless and criminals for their mental illnesses that presently destroy their lives (and the lives of others around them) and diminish their future value in society. Everyone has potential – everyone has unmet potential. Between 15% and 25% of the population suffers from untreated mental illness that impacts their lives, limits what they do with their lives, and often adds a burden to society where these people live. That’s a lot of lost productivity, expense, and a lot of misery we simply allow to persist by being passive with regard to these ill people.
  10. Flush cancer cells from the body. One day, nanomachines will scour the body entangling themselves in cancer cells they have an affinity for and eliminating these cells from the body. Everyone is walking around with cancer cells in their body. Rather than killing these cells and many more in the body to fight cancer after a few of these cells become active and tumor-producing, just “round ’em up and head ’em out!”
  11. A bonus, since several ideas aren’t so crazy or so far “out there”. A motion-based battery charger that you wear to charge a cellphone or an iPod while you walk. How far to fully charge a cellphone? A couple of miles? I could get rid of my “wall warts” and never need to plug in again… Do that for my iPad, too. If I can carry it, it should recharge when I move about.

Well, there are eleven  crazy ideas. Time for smart people to “git crackin'” on some of these. And for a few dedicated people to promote these ideas – oh, that would be me… Write back with a crazy idea of your own!

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3 Responses to “10 Crazy Ideas – one is likely to be BIG!”

  1. Anthony Winslow Says:

    1. If you want to set up a personal phone whitelist, you can use a Google Voice. Any other callers get an answering machine. GV also has some spam filtering features but I don’t know how effective they are. Also, there exist Android apps that do things like filter your calls based on a community-generated blacklist.

    2. The big problem with streams that “follow” you is accurately determining your location in real time. Unless you want to slap an RFID reader on every doorway and carry a tag with you all the time, it’s not easily doable. As for capable software, MythTV or any of the other server/client PVR systems will remember your position in a movie across multiple clients. Idea: I think it would be nice to have a map of your house on a tablet or smart phone, and you can tap one room or another to remotely tell the device in that room to start playing your stream. MPD can already do this, but it shows a list of output devices, not a map. Remote software exists for MythTV but I don’t know if it’s that capable. If it’s not it should be fairly simple to put together. Unless your TVs and stereos are all WakeOnLAN you’ll have to leave them on all the time.

    3. Will never happen without significant change in copyright law, which I consider to be unlikely. Also, Apple only lets you stream stuff that they’ve licensed for iTunes. Those FLACs of your friend’s garage band will be inaccessible.

    4. To some extent this is already available. One can learn a lot by reading Wikipedia, pirating or borrowing textbooks, &c. But nobody’s going to give you a degree for that. You might be able to test out of most of the necessary classes, but it will still cost money to get the piece of paper from a University that an employer will trust. School may become cheaper, but it will not happen as long as schools are run like a business that must turn a profit. State grants and loans for tuition will not help, because it just means schools can raise their tuition without putting pressure on the student. I read a nice thread on reddit recently about acquiring free/cheap education: http://redd.it/hxxr7

    5. You’re probably a minority. Planes would rather jam a few more seats in that space, because they can probably make more money off a few extra first class passengers than you are willing to pay to exercise.

    6. We have this already: video games. It’s not yet as immersive as Ray Bradbury style TV rooms or Neal Stephenson style virtual reality, but we’ll get there eventually. Virtual Reality and large LCD screens are becoming cheaper and better all the time.

    7. Good translation requires the interpretation of context clues and idioms which has been extremely difficult for computers. Google is making progress but I doubt it will get as good as a human for decades at least. I don’t believe it will ever be done in real time because there is an unavoidable disruptive delay: necessary context clues may be far apart. In some languages, the grammar structure is different enough that you can’t even begin to translate a sentence until you reach the end.

    8. Crawl into your attic, install servo-operated valves into your AC vents. If you want finer control than that, you’ll either have to have a completely separate system for each room or some kind of complex air mixing system. Too expensive and inefficient for most people.

    9. I agree completely. However you won’t see that happening for a long time. The state has no incentive to fund mental health institutions and homeless shelters that will not turn a profit. Prisons, however, are profitable. State welfare will not work in a market system because it only allows stores and landlords to raise prices. Independent organizations that attempt to directly help homeless people are either required to pay the state for the privilege of doing so or they are outlawed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_Not_Bombs

    10. How is removing something from the body different from killing it (from the body’s perspective)? You still must reliably recognize the object before you act.

    11. I think there’s a reason nobody has used these to power anything more complex than a watch. However, if your *clothes themselves* were a battery… http://www.stanford.edu/group/cui_group/papers/nl903949m.pdf

  2. Brian Says:

    Hi Anthony,

    Thanks for dedicating some time to comment back! My 10+1 crazy ideas are “crazy” because they are not feasible given today’s technology, economy or political system. Sometimes, a crazy spurs a less crazy one into existence.

    One idea with a long term promise is the nanomachine cancer fighter. Many cancer cells have long, stringy cilia that are distinctive. If a nanomachine has an affinity for these particular cancer cell’s cilia, they could “snag” the cancer cells. If you swirl spaghetti with a fork, you can grab a whole bowl of noodles with a few spins, but you can’t pick up a single noodle with a spoon. A nanomachine with just the right shaped prongs might be able to grab hundreds of cancer cells into a clump and pull them along and out of the body. Well, a crazy idea – but, someday… When I see pictures of some cancer cells, I think they look a lot like neurons, so these nanomarchines need to “choose wisely”.

    RFID tags in the home? Why not. you could enable a host of location-aware apps in the home to do all kind of things. It’s not so far fetched. A keyring could be the active element that signals the apps… Hmmm… I need to think about this…

    The participative movie – yup – it is a video game with an audience. I hadn’t made that connection. The real challenge is to influence the unrolling of the story subtly. With the right audience of character actors, you could make the movie last for hours!

    Clothing a battery – that’s a great crazy idea! I like that one.

    Thanks for the links.

  3. Brian Says:

    I have been thinking more about the “spam filter” for the phone. I need this. I don’t even want an unidentified caller to be able to leave a voicemail. The whole point is to not even know a spammer has called. So, how does one make this work?
    1) The Caller ID “anonymizer” feature that individual callers may elect for their privacy needs must be able to accept a “Show Your ID” request from an authorized recipient who is in their Address Book or on their “White List” and respond back with the number and ID information as an administered exception to their blanket “Do Not Show My ID” rule. Today, the blanket “Do Not Show My ID” rule makes no allowance for exceptions.
    2) A caller who is anonymous must be able to send an “Admit Me” request to the recipient who blocks anonymous IDs. This is currently accomplished today with certain service providers that answer a call automatically and ask the caller to “press 1 if you are not a solicitor” to then ring the recipient’s phone – this is the “Persistent Legitimate Caller” model, and it defeats the mechanized caller. An alternative requires a new phone feature to pass a credential from the caller to the recipient that the recipient can subsequently add to their Address Book or their White List – this is the “Caller Authorization Request” model. Once a new caller is added, that caller can electronically negotiate the connection with the recipient and still maintain their own privacy, and the recipient still maintains barrier to phone-spam.

    So, this requires a new “Authorization Request” feature currently unsupported by current industry standards. Hmmm… I’ll write a contribution for a standards committee to consider!

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