Archive for December, 2018

#1,427 – Bandersnatch Review

So is Bandersnatch, Netflix’ interactive Choose Your Own Adventure style movie the future of entertainment?

I sure hope not.

I had high hopes for the latest installment of Black Mirror but it failed to live up to the hype, both as a innovative concept and as a stand alone episode of the hit series.

Here are my criticisms:

  • The choices you have to make were way too frequent.  Only major points where the plot could have diverged should have been up for choosing.  Picking a breakfast cereal is not one of those moments.
  • Some of the choices weren’t really choices at all, but rather just two ways of saying the same thing.
  • Sometimes, no matter what you wanted to choose, you were forced to eventually choose a certain path to continue the story the way it was intended.  The choices weren’t really choices then so much as annoying, non-essential tangents.  It would have been better if your choices actually caused the plot to diverge in more radical ways, making it so that no two people saw the same movie.
  • Making a choice quickly didn’t actually save any time.  You still had to wait for a set amount of time, during which the characters would annoyingly tell each other (and therefore you) to hurry up.
  • If you’re going to do this concept and force people to re-watch several scenes then the content should be more interesting and action-packed, a fact that the movie actually touches on in one of its multiple endings.
  • The plot was way too meta.  Even for Black Mirror.  A fan of a Choose Your Own Adventure story goes to work for a company to turn it into a video game about the illusion of free will, during which time he realizes that he doesn’t have free will because his actions and impulses are being directed by people playing/watching an interactive Choose Your Own Adventure game/movie on something called Netflix.  This gave me the feeling that this entire movie was just an advertisement for Netflix and not the work of art that it could have been.

All in all, watching Bandersnatch felt a little bit tedious, as I found myself wondering when it was going to end, and if I was ever going to know for sure that I watched all of the possible paths.  Not to mention the fact that it was kind of annoying to have to hold the remote control the entire time I watched.

Hopefully, this was just the first step and the future of interactive entertainment improves.  Maybe even to the point where movies could scan our brains and make the choices for us so that we can just sit back and enjoy the ride.  The way we’re supposed to do with a good movie.

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Are interactive shows the future of entertainment?

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The best of the best.  These ideas literally have the potential to change the world.

Implosion Fabrication: A new breakthrough could make it possible to shrink down anything to the nanoscale using equipment that already exists in most labs bringing nanotech to the masses.  Given these factors Implosion Fabrication could one day be bigger than 3-D printing.

Desktop Supercomputers: It used to be that computers took up entire rooms.  Now they fit in our pockets as smartphones.  And soon room sized desktop supercomputers will fit inside our pockets as well as a recent breakthrough has managed to shrink one down to the size of a desktop computer.

Graphair: Graphene, the wonder material, has lots of potential uses, but Graphair might be the best one as this graphene based water filter works so well, in fact, that it can even make ocean water drinkable as an experiment in Sydney Harbor attested to.

Graphene Energy: I take that back.  The best use of Graphene may be as a potential source of unlimited clean energy as physicstis at the University of Arkansas have invented a nano-scale power generator capable of generating energy from the movement of graphene.  At the very least this study proves that it may be possible to use two dimensional materials as a source of energy.  Speaking of which…

Graphene x100: We were lucky to stumble upon the amazing properties of Graphene, but there are likely still hundreds of other compounds that we have yet to discover that would also be capable of doing some pretty amazing things.  Instead of waiting for these discoveries to happen naturally over time a team of researchers decide to use an advanced computer model to brute force hack the results, leading to the discovery of more than two hundred other compounds with unique properties.  If some of them are even better than Graphene the world will never be the same again.

Xofluza: Suffering from the flu may soon be a thing of the past thanks to this new treatment that stops symptoms dead in their tracks within 24 hours.

Color X-Rays: A new breakthrough gives doctors unprecedented ability to see everything in a patient (blood vessels, muscles, etc.) in addition to bone in vivid color.

Solid: As Facebook counters to be embroidered in controversy after controversy it’s becoming more and more clear that the web needs to be re-imagined.  Enter Solid from Tim Berners-Lee, one of the original inventors of the web.  This exciting project aims to re-invent the world wide web by giving people control over their data as they move through the web. Will take a couple of years but this project has the potential to completely revolutionize the Internet and society along with it.

Blood Type Converter: In need of a blood transfusion?  You better hope that someone nearby shares your blood type or has Type O, making them a Universal donor.  But in the future blood type won’t matter.  Thanks to a new technique that enables any blood type to be converted into Type O.

Apple Watch Series 4: Smart watches haven’t really caught on yet but that may change thanks to the latest Apple watch and its ability to detect heart attacks before they happen.

AT-121: This new drug is said to kill pain just as effectively as morphine but in a dose 100x smaller.  And best of all it isn’t addictive.

Agriculture Breakthrough: It is now possible to grow vegetables without sunlight or soil, a breakthrough that could pave the way for space travel.

BioLEC: A new field of science that aims to use the energy from photons to power chemical reactions, similar to how plants utilize photosynthesis.  If successful it may one be possible to modify the arrangement of molecules so that we can make say, jet fuel, from something as innocuous as sugar.

BrainNET: Researchers from the University of Washington created a brain to brain interface that enabled a group of three people to play a Tetris like game.  The system is still rudimentary but it gives rise to the idea that we may one day all hour our brains hooked up to the Internet, enabling us to send our thoughts and emotions across the web in addition to memes.

CRISPR: The famous gene-editing technique really came to the forefront in 2018 with news that it can be used to created genetically modified food.  However, that was just setting the stage for one of the biggest news stories of the year: a Chinese scientist who allegedly conceived the first baby genetically modify using CRISPR.

ApeelThis natural coating can be applied to fruits and vegetables to double or even quadruple their shelf life!

Self-Fertilizing Corn: A type of corn, native to Mexico, produces its own fertilizer, a discovery which could have a huge economic and environmental impact as we struggle to feed the world’s population.

Magnesite: This lab generated mineral is capable of removing carbon dioxide from the air at faster rates than natural occurring processes and could become an important weapon in the fight against climate change.

Chronic Pain Test: Australian researchers have identified a molecule that may indicate exactly how much pain a person is in, enabling doctors to accurately adjust pain medication dosage.

Protein Power: Evolution naturally solves some problems, like making people immune to a certain disease, through the use of proteins.  But we don’t have the luxury of waiting for evolution to solve all of our pressing problems.  Thankfully, a new breakthrough means that we won’t have to as researchers have found a way to control the process by which proteins are made, allowing us to make new ones that aren’t found naturally.  New ones that may have the potential to solve all of our problems from fixing Climate Change to curing diseases.  When it’s all said and done this breakthrough could have a greater impact than CRISPR gene editing or synthetic biology.

Heart Patch: In the future it may be possible to repair the damage from heart attacks and prevent them from happening again thanks t a microneedle patch that injects stem cells directly into the heart.

Dissolvable Microneedles: Speaking of microneedles they may soon solve another major medical problem, allowing for people to receive injections without the need for a painful needle, as medications can instead be delivered by applying a harmless microneedle based patch that dissolves into the skin.

Alzheimer’s Eye Exam: Early detection of Alzheimer’s may now be possible thanks to a quick and easy eye exam that can determine mental health issues by examining the health of the blood vessels located behind the eye.

Cure for the Common Cold: The holy grail of medical research may finally be on the verge of happening thanks to the development of a new molecule that is capable of blocking the virus that causes the cold from reaching the protein that it normally infects.  Similar approaches have been tried in the past but this is the first time that there weren’t any side effects.

Cure for Baldness: A real hair-raising idea thanks to new research from scientists at the University of Manchester who created a drug that targets the protein that inhibits hair growth.

Earth BioGenome Project: Similar to the Human Genome Project this vast undertaking ($4.7 Billion, 10 years) aims to further our understanding of genetics and biology by sequencing the genome of eurakyotes i.e. everything that contains a nucleus.  Which is pretty much everything on Earth (plants, animals, etc.) with the exception of bacteria.

Plastic Eating Enzyme: Considering that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a trash pile currently floating in the Pacific Ocean), is twice the size of Texas, we need to find a way to clean up our oceans, and fast. Thankfully a serendipitous accidental discovery is here to help, in the form of a new enzyme that is capable of breaking down plastic, and at a faster rate than occurs naturally.

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Art Hunt: Like Product Hunt, but for discovering artistic and creative talent.  Musicians, photographers, writers, whatever the case may be.  Unique Etsy storefronts would qualify.  Ditto for unheralded Instagram accounts, little known blogs, and YouTube accounts deserving of a wider audience.  Anyone and everyone with an overactive imagination and an underappreciated talent.

Robot Consumers: Forget about the Information Age.  We live in the Information Overload Age.  With the barriers to entry having been lowered everyone and their mother is now a content creator.  There’s just one problem: if we’re all busy making content who is left to consume it?  That’s where robot consumers would come in, automatically liking, sharing, and commenting on our work to help it go viral.  A better, more thoughtful version of click farms.

Creative Outlet Malls: What I’m envisioning is a multi-purpose facility specifically designed to cater to the needs of the modern citizen.  There would be recording studios so that you could create content for your podcast or YouTube channel.  Computers that you can use to write the next great American novel as well as printers and a whole suite of editing and publishing services.  Meeting rooms to brainstorm business ideas with your friends.  Modular rooms that can be rearranged to fit the needs of any startup.  A space for open mic nights and musical performances to give people a platform to show off their talent and art gallery space to give artists and photographers an opportunity to show what they can do.

Nexus Lexis: A museum dedicated to all things literary.   A place where you can marvel at Shakespeare’s folios, view beautifully written letters to loved ones from Civil War soldiers, gawk at the work of impressive wordsmiths like famed poet Emily Dickinson and discover the inner dialogue of great thinkers like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.  There would be entire wings dedicated to Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, and every other genre you can think of.  Famous contemporary authors could host book readings and signings.  Scholars could host events to discuss the evolution of paper from its humble beginnings in the Far East.  There could even be character actors sprinkled throughout the museum, interacting with guests while doing their best Edgar Allen Poe impersonations.  Quote the Raven.  Nevermore.

Mental Health Fitness Tracker: It could measure your memory capacity, your spatial awareness, your powers of deduction, your reflex time, your tiredness, your general mental aptitude, etc.  For instance, imagine using this information to make the potential life-saving decision to not drive home late at night because of warning signs indicating that you would be at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.  Or imagine making the decision to read a book over watching TV because your visual cortex was already dangerously overworked for the day while the logic and reasoning part of your brain wasn’t getting enough attention.  Or better yet, imagine studying for a test and finding out when you could stop, because you found out that the memory stores in your brain were filled up and that studying more wouldn’t make any more of a difference.

Pages: Anyone can set up a page and use it to announce to the world what they would want to be “hired” for.  Now this isn’t strictly a job platform although you could use this service for that if you really wanted to.  Nor is it a dating app, although, once again, if you wanted to use it to find dates you could.  Rather the point of Pages would be to find anyone you are looking for.  That could be a fill-in for your softball team, a babysitter, someone to go hiking with, or someone to help you move.

For instance, my Pages profile would announce that I’m available for public speaking gigs.  Someone else might announce that they’re down to fill in on your bar trivia team or to round out a golfing foursome.  Others might broadcast the fact that they are a wedding singer looking for gigs or a photographer looking for work during wedding season.

The Sigmund: What if your diary or journal could write back to you?  That’s the premise behind The Sigmund, a new concept for an interactive, AI-infused smart journal, named after the greatest couch therapist of all-time, Sigmund Freud.

Here’s how it would work.  Rather than tell off your ex, complain about your co-workers to your spouse, or burden your friends with deep existential thoughts about the meaning of life, you can instead just express yourself within the pages of The Sigmund, the same way that millions of people have interacted with diaries and journals for millennia.  But here’s where things get interesting.  Instead of just writing on a static page or even in a smart journal capable of transferring your writings to the cloud, you would instead be writing inside of a journal that an AI would be actively scanning.  Able to make sense of natural language this AI would take clues from your ruminations and over time serve up advice and recommendations to ease you through your troubling times.

Do Not Disturb Wearable: What if there was a way that we could let people (store clerks, guys hanging out in bars, subway strap-hangers, etc.) know that we didn’t want to be bothered at that moment.  A simple on/off wearable would suffice, similar to those buttons used in all you can eat Brazilian steakhouses to let the waiters know if you want to be served or not.

Proximity Alert Wearable: People are oblivious.  No one pays attention, watches where they are going, or has any spatial awareness.  Wouldn’t it be great then if we invented a wearable device that would beep or somehow let you know when you are too close to someone?  Think of it like the sensors that are becoming more and more standard in cars these days that alert you when you are getting close to backing into something or when you are venturing too far outside your lane.  If we had those for walking maybe we wouldn’t bump into each other as much.

Social Memory App: A way to quickly and easily keep track of which of your friends share similar interests and who you’ve already told certain things to or discussed certain things with.

PlatformPass: MoviePass for TV platforms.  A monthly subscription service (say $20 a month) that will get you limited access to every streaming platform that there is.  If you’re a Netflix power user you’d still need to keep your Netflix subscription to ensure that you’ll be able to watch obscure documentaries to your heart’s content.  But if you’re not into all that, and you only want to binge watch House of Cards or Orange is the New Black when they come out, then you’d be covered with this cross platform pass that will let you binge watch a limited number of shows per platform per month.

Spacebook: A new take on social media that would be all about learning and self-improvement.  Users would be banned from posting about themselves and their daily lives.

Instead the only things that you could post would be items that were either educational or informative.  The more thought provoking the better.  Book and podcast recommendations.  Interesting articles.  Self-improvement content.  News about cool new products.  Conversations would naturally spring up around topics not people.  You wouldn’t even have a public wall that people could post on.  Instead, you’d have a private dashboard, that only you could see, that would track your progress towards becoming a better person.  Monitoring your progress towards meeting your fitness and educational goals while providing you with motivational quotes to help inspire you along the way.  I’d call this site Spacebook.  A personal space for you to continue your development as a person.

National Park Volunteers: Similar to volunteer firefighters these would be trained “professionals” who can step up in times when there is great need like during natural disasters, government shutdowns, or other crisis.  Being on hand to guide visitors, provide medical assistance, alert authorities to any issues, and keep a watchful eye over restricted areas.

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Nissan’s Brain to Car Interface: Split second decisions could make the difference between whether or not you get into an accident.  That’s why Nissan wants to create a system that makes decisions even faster than is currently humanly possible.  It does this by connecting a driver’s brain directly to the car so that decisions can be executed instantaneously, before the body has even had a chance to process the information.  By literally cutting out the middle man countless lives could be saved.  Including yours.

Samsung’s Brain Controlled TV: Not to be outdone, Samsung is also working on developing technology that could hook up a couch potatoes’ brain to a television set, allowing them to channel surf without having to get up, reach for the remote, or even speak commands.

Artificial Reincarnation: Soon it may be possible to digitally recreate deceased actors with CGI to the point where you wouldn’t be able to tell an artificial actor from a real one.  This could allow movie studios to continue filming a movie even after an actor’s untimely demise or even allow them to shoot flashbacks or prequels without any input from the original actor.

Quantum Radio: In the future it may be possible to send communication signals through building materials, water, and soil with greater efficiency than is currently possible thanks to a new quantum physics based approach that shrinks down the frequency of the signal.  This might mean that we’ll one day be able to use our cellphones in the subway.

Blockchain Smartphone: The Blockchain craze has shown no signs of slowing down and it may eventually make its way to hardware manufacturers who will design smartphones from the bottom up, specifically for the Blockchain.  In theory, this means that you could wind up with an encrypted phone tied to a person’s identity allowing them to control their own data as they use their phone to shop online, post on social media, send texts, etc.

Bandito: Mosquitos are the bane of my existence, ruining every hike I’ve ever gone on. Thankfully there’s now a wearable device on the market capable of serving as the ultimate mosquito repellent through a combination of sounds and smells specifically designed to keep mosquitoes out of your personal space.

Ink to Code: Have an app idea but don’t know how to code? You’re in luck!  Thanks to Microsoft now you can just doodle your idea on a napkin and have it turned into code! Making it this easy to code could lead to an explosion in the number of apps that we have. If that’s even possible.

Virtual Wearables: How can we design a way for users to interact inside of a virtual environment since holding a physical joystick would ruin the illusion that you’re in a virtual world? It’s one of the biggest issues in tech and the solution may lie in mimicking how we already interact with our environments IRL.  For instance, imagine being someone who uses an Apple Watch.  That watch could give you text messages and monitor your health in real life and then a similar virtual watch could be how you’d navigate through your virtual environment.  Since you’re using an Apple Watch in both environments the illusion that the virtual world is real is stronger.

Thin Skin Wearables: Speaking of wearables one of the major drawbacks with them is that they can be bulky and therefore can’t be worn all the time.  Enter thin skin wearables that are thinner than a piece of cardboard and look more like a band-aid than a traditional wearable.  They’re so thin, in fact, that they more closely resemble skin than jewelry.  They’ll be so comfortable that we’ll never have to take them off.

Noveto: This personalized speaker could render headphones obsolete by delivering targeted sound directly to your ears without disturbing anyone else nearby.  Just don’t ask me how it works.

IRL Glasses: Annoyed every time you walk down the street and see an advertisement on an electronic billboard?  Running out to pick up some wings during the Super Bowl and don’t want to see the score anywhere?  The IRL Glasses can help with that by blocking out any screens you may encounter.

OxygeneThis moss covered tire from Goodyear cleans the air, giving car owners the ability to reduce their carbon footprint, even if they are driving around a lot.  It’s a similar concept to the CityTree, the moss covered park bench that gives off the same environmental impact of planting 275 trees.

Apple’s AR/VR headset: Will Virtual Reality rule the future? Or will it be Augmented Reality? If Apple has a say it won’t matter thanks to rumors that they are working on a headset that will let users toggle between both modes.

CRISPR Kit: What’s better than CRISPR? Being able to use it at home!  Which may be possible thanks to an at-home diagnostic kit that could one day detect illnesses, helping you to avoid a trip to the doctor’s office.

Disney’s FORCE Jacket: Disney is said to be working on a jacket for virtual environments that will let a user literally feel everything happening to them.  That may not be a good thing.

Google Lens: This object recognition mobile app can now identify over a billion items, bringing AI powered machine-learning smarts to your phone, making it easier for you to identify what you’re looking at or search for the latest deals.

IBM’s New Computer: IBM has successfully invented the world’s smallest computer, the size of a grain of salt.  Such a computer could revolutionize society, allowing us to put sensors pretty much everywhere.

Amphibio: This 3-D printed wearable gill could allow us to breathe underwater.  Something that may come in handy after the polar ice cap completely melts and sea levels around the world rise exponentially.

Lucid Dreaming: M.I.T. researchers are reportedly working on a way to make it possible for anyone to lucid dream, that is to be able to consciously control their dreams while they sleep.

Hoverglide: Hiking, camping, and transporting supplies as a soldier just got a whole lot easier thanks to this ingenious backpack design that shifts its weight while you walk, “hovering” over you to lighten your load.

Vision Correcting Eye Drops: Wearing glasses and getting Lasix eye surgery may soon be a thing of the past thanks to new eye drops that repair your vision when applied.  Reportedly these drops work for both near and far-sightedness.

Tonal: I don’t go to the gym but if I did I’d want it to look something like Tonal, an intelligent home-workout system capable of spotting you on the fly by changing the resistance you’re encountering if need be.

Comixify: Brands, content creators, and regular people now have another creative avenue at their disposal thanks to Comixify which allows you to turn any video clip into a comic strip.

Brixels: A combination of bricks and pixels, these Lego like modular building blocks could allow us to design previously imaginable structures and interactive displays.

SpotMini: Boston Dynamic’s robotic pet dogs are set to go on sale in 2019, bringing us one step closer to a future where we live side by side with robotic maids and other androids.

Square Off:  This automated chess board lets you play against friends remotely as the gameboard is capable of moving your opponents’ pieces on its own.

Halo Shirt: A new type of fitness wear designed to change shape during physical contact to help prevent you from getting a concussion.

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Is Nissan’s brain to car interface the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The latest installment of Black Mirror is now live on Netflix, an interactive choose your own adventure style offering known as Bandersnatch, that could revolutionize Hollywood as it has five possible endings, 312 minutes of unique content, and more than one trillion story permutations! Forget about binge-watching an entire season.  Soon you’ll have to binge-watch the same movie over and over again, every possible way.

I’m super-excited about this news and want to share it with my friends that I know watched Black Mirror. There’s just one problem.  I don’t know who that is.  I’m pretty sure my friend Danielle watched it and I know that my friends Russell and Jess definitely watched it.  And a few people at work.  But what about Bob in accounting? Or my cousin?  Did they watch it?  And even if they did watch it, did they like it enough to care about the release of Bandersnatch?

Is it just me or does anyone else have a hard time keeping track of their friends?  Surely, I can’t be the only one.  Others must have forgotten who they told what to.  Must have repeated a story to someone because they forgot who they had already told.  Right?  I can’t be the only one, can I?

In any event, I think I’ve come up with a solution: a remembrance app that will help you sort out who knows what.  You could use this app to track which of your friends likes which shows or movies so you know who you can talk to about the latest episode.  Or you can use it just to keep track of the latest gossip and who you already told what to. If you play in a fantasy league you could use it to track your trade negotiations with teams so that you can easily see which of their players you like and which of your players they like and so on, making it much easier to pull the trigger on a deal when it comes time to negotiate.  You could even use it keep track of what you talked about with your dates if you happen to be juggling several relationships.

Since this information would be extremely helpful to everyone, not just to you, we could make it publicly available, linking it to your various social media profiles, so that others can see your interests and find out what you would be interested in talking about with them.  More than just helping us remember, this app could also help us learn new things about one another, making it easier to form new connections.

While you ponder that I’m going to head out and start watching Bandersnatch for the first time.  Wish me luck.  And if you don’t mind, kindly remind me if you watch Black Mirror too.

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Is Bandersnatch the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Greta Thunberg is my hero.  Completely fearless, she tells it like it is on the world stage to anyone who will listen and even to those who won’t.  But more than that she also puts her money where her mouth is, taking action on the front lines of our impending war for survival, the one pitting logic and reason against ignorance and misinformation, the ultimate battle that is the epic global showdown over Climate Change.  Doing so, week after week, rain or shine, until people take notice, her boundless spirit knowing no end.  Which is all the more impressive when you consider that she’s autistic and just fifteen years old.

But that hasn’t stopped this modern day Joan of Arc from leading her side to victory.  If anything, it just adds to her appeal.  An image that she cultivated by calling out world leaders for their lack of action on Climate Change at the COP24 climate summit in Poland a few weeks ago.  But don’t take my word for it.  Here’s a look at the full transcript from her viral speech:

“My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden. I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now. Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn’t matter what we do. But I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference. And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to.

But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act. You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself. We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people. Thank you”.

Greta didn’t mince her words and rightfully so.  But there was one line in particular that really stood out to me:

“We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.”

I agree with this sentiment 100%.  It perfectly encapsulates how I’ve always felt about Climate Change.  Even if there weren’t Climate Change deniers, even if everyone was on the same page and in perfect agreement that something needed to be done, we still wouldn’t be doing enough to bring about the global change that we need.  That fact that there has been opposition along the way just makes the uphill battle we’re facing all the more daunting.

So what can we do about it?  How can we actually treat this crisis like a crisis?

Well, Greta has an idea because of course she does.  She wants to lead the world on a global climate strike.  Students wouldn’t go to school.  Workers wouldn’t go to their jobs. Everything would shut down, everything coming to a screeching halt, until the governments of the world finally take action.  And so far people from around the world have followed her lead, joining her on school strikes and walkouts, every Friday, from across Europe and all the way to Australia.

But there is still more work to be done.  More striking that needs to occur.  More walkouts that need to happen.  More attention that needs to be drawn to the issue.  But thankfully we have the right person for the job.  A hero for the modern age.  The one and only Greta Thunberg.  Climate Change activist.  People’s champion.  Driving force behind the Greatest Idea of the Year.

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Is a Global Climate Strike the Greatest Idea Ever?

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China’s Social Credits: It may sound like the plot of a Black Mirror episode but for millions of Chinese citizens it will soon be reality as a trial program is underway in Shanghai that would tie a person’s social reputation to their ability to move through society.  For instance, people with low scores may not be allowed to travel first class or even travel at all.

Social Media Sitters: In another sign of our times a new job has sprung up thanks to an enterprising hotel chain: social media “babysitter”.  The basic premise here is that you can rest easy while on vacation, without having to worry about constantly updating your Instagram feed, because you’ll have someone else to manage your account for you while you sip Mai Tais by the pool.

Human Uber: Don’t want to attend a party that your ex will be at?  Don’t feel like waiting in line at the DMV? Hire a Human Uber! Someone you’d pay to live your life for you.  They might even wear a screen on their face, turning them into a human Beam Telepresence Robot, so that you can still hear and see what’s going on.  Another idea that sounds like the plot of a Black Mirror episode.

Sans Forgetica: If you can’t remember something have solace in the fact that it’s not your fault.  The culprit may actually be the font that you’re reading.  Which is why researchers have invented a new font, known as Sans Forgetica, specifically designed to aid memory retention by creating letters that are harder to read, thereby forcing you to concentrate more to understand them.

Furternity Leave: Why should parents of newborns get all the fun? If this new trend CATcheson people who get a new pet may be granted some time off to bond with and train their new furry friend.  Hopefully leading to an increase in saving animals who might otherwise need to be put down at a local shelter.

Body Odor Detector: Thankfully, there’s now something you can use before heading out to check how you smell, a new hand-held device that is capable of detecting the chemical compounds typically associated with body odor.  Such a device could be a real life saver.  At least for single men.

Oumuamua: The first object spotted in our solar system to ever originate from OUTSIDE our solar system is definitely an alien spaceship right?!!?! How else do you explain the fact that it doesn’t act like either a comet nor an asteroid and that it picked up speed as it went by the sun?!

The Army’s Coffee Algorithm: The Army is always interested in technologies that can improve their soldiers’ efficiency which explains their interested in developing an algorithm that can tell a solider exactly how much coffee intake they need to maximize their productivity.  Like most military innovations it may not be long before this algorithm makes it into mainstream society and a Starbucks near you.

Molar Mic: Speaking of the military, they are also working on a sly communications method that would allow soldiers to communicate via a tooth implant.  In theory, this would reduce the amount of gear that soldiers have to carry around while also reducing the chances for miscommunication during the fog of war.

Powder Storage: Over the last few years information has been encoded on everything from DNA to pieces of quartz.  Now there’s another intriguing medium at our disposal: powder. The method is so sophisticated that it can even be used to transfer complex pieces of information such as entire QR codes.

Cactus Pain Killer: A cactus-like plant native to Morocco is so hot that it can actually be used as an effective painkiller.  Just inject RTX into an inflamed area and it will effectively destroy all of the nerve endings in that area thereby eliminating the pain that you were feeling.

AlterEgo: Have you ever rehearsed what you wanted to say in your mind before you said it? Despite not opening your mouth and verbalizing your speech you can still hear your thoughts playback internally.  Now imagine if doing that could enable you control your cell phone.  That’s the premise behind this wearable neural device from M.I.T. that lets users interact with devices just by speaking silently.

Eta: Just like the Weasley family clock in the Harry Potter series you too can now keep tabs on your relative’s whereabouts with the Eta clock that syncs up with a user’s phone and lists their current position by indicating if they are at home, at work, at school, at a friend’s house, or commuting.  An invasion of privacy? Perhaps.  But a small price to pay to keep your Muggle family safe.

Knitting Buildings: 3-D printing hasn’t fully caught on yet but perhaps knitting will thanks to a new construction technique that will literally let us knit entire buildings.  Crochet it isn’t so.

Replika.AI: By corresponding with this chatbot you won’t just be engaging in conversation with a new friend.  You’ll also be training your replacement as it may one day be possible to have a “replica” that will share all of your same linguistic nuances, enabling you to carry on conversations with loved ones even after you pass away.

Google Duplex: Speaking of chatbots, Google unveiled Duplex earlier this year, a human sounding bot capable of serving as your personal assistant, by making realistic phone calls on your behalf.  The service could be used to make restaurant reservations or deal with customer service reps, freeing you up to deal with more important matters.  Like playing Pokémon Go.

Koji: This Japanese fungus is capable of dry-aging a steak 45 days in just 48 hours! Amazing.

Michihito Matsuda: Speaking of Japan, the next Mayor of Tokyo may be a robot.  If elected Matsuda would have analyzed poll data and other pieces of relevant information to make informed decisions in the best interests of the public.  Which is more than we can say about our current political landscape over here in America.

CTRL-Kit: In the future it may be possible to interact with your apps using only the power of your thoughts.  No invasive brain surgery required.  In fact, it can all happen via a wearable wristband.

Plane Train: Every year there are invariably several weird transportation themed ideas and 2018 was no different.  The most impressive of the ideas is for a train that turns into a plane and vice versa, thanks to detachable wings, thereby removing the hassle of commuting to the airport for city dwellers.  2018 also gave us a car that runs on air and a plane built with no moving parts.

Cryptokitties: 2018 will always be remembered for being the year that gave us Cryptokitties, uniquely identifiable virtual cats that could be bought and sold on the Blockchain as well as the Sweatcoin, a virtual currency you could earn by working out.

Vesta: This Alexa on wheels would be a portable robot, possibly akin to Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons, capable of following you around the house to respond to your every whim.  Or at least order you products from Amazon as needed.

ShapeScale: The device is capable of generating a realistic 3D image of your entire body to help you better visualize your fitness.  You’ll even be able to view a heat map to see where your changes have occurred allowing you to chart your progress over time and set goals for yourself.  Everything that you need to take your fitness to the next level.  If you can bear to look.

Stomach FitBit: Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder there’s the StomachFitBit, a swallow-able smart pill that will monitor how your stomach responds to stress, sleep, and of course, eating.  Giving new meaning to the phrase gut feeling.

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Is Human Uber the weirdest idea of the year?

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