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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

I’m not a coffee drinker but even I can appreciate the greatness of this next idea: a way to create everyone’s favorite morning pick me up without using any beans!

According to The Spoon, “Seattle-based startup Atomo claims to bring you all the goodness of a cup of coffee — without the bean. Atomo’s so-called ‘molecular coffee’ is made by reverse engineering the flavor and aroma compounds in coffee beans to make a substance that, when brewed, tastes and caffeinates like java. It’s made with natural ingredients and can be brewed one-to-one for coffee in French presses, refillable K-cups, pour-overs, etc.”

In light of our forthcoming climate catastrophe this idea has particular appeal considering that we may not always be able to grow coffee beans naturally.  Or maybe this is the kind of approach that could pave the way for astronauts to enjoy coffee when they won’t have the ability to grow their own beans.

But best of all, perhaps we could even use this reverse engineering approach to create molecular versions of other foods and beverages as well.  Ensuring that we’ll always have our favorites on call, whenever we need them.

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Is Atomo Molecular Coffee the Greatest Idea Ever?

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How we came to eat the things that we do in the way that we do has likely been the byproduct of thousands of years of trial and error.  Before we figured out that you could pair milk with cereal someone had to try cereal mixed with apple or orange juice.  Yuck!  Or just imagine walking down the beach trying everything you could find, seaweed, clams, jellyfish, etc. to figure out what was edible and what wasn’t.  I’m a picky eater as it is.  Being an ancient taste tester would not have been for me.  Thankfully, we won’t have to worry about that anymore.  Going forward new food combinations will be concocted, not by human chefs, but by an advanced artificial intelligence, IBM’s Watson.

After winning Jeopardy, Watson turned its attention to healthcare, working with hospitals to diagnose rare diseases, thanks to its astonishing ability to read one million books per second.  At the time I wondered what Watson would turn to next for an encore and now we know.  Watson in a partnership with McCormick & Company will turn its attention to creating food recipes.  Rare, never before created recipes that no human could have ever come up with due to their complexity and chefs natural predisposition to certain favored ways of doing things.

As Futurism puts it, “Each human developer comes with biases. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; they may simply have favorite or go-to ingredientslike particular spices, that are over-represented in their formulas. But because IBM’s AI, largely comprised of a massive neural network, is trained on decades of McCormick data, the system is able to consider alternatives outside of a particular expert’s wheelhouse.

The algorithm also absorbed contextual data from decades of market research — the neural net processed data on people’s preferences based on factors like their culture, location, and moods.”

The end result is a system that is capable of considering food combinations that have never been tried before giving hope that we could be on the verge of revolutionizing the food industry.  Imagine for instance if something as amazing as pizza was only just now getting discovered.  How much would a discovery of that magnitude change the world?  Which begs the question: what new foods will be discovered next?!

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Is a new food algorithm the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,465 – Vinyly

The expression thinking outside the box just took on a whole new meaning thanks to a new burial idea: turning your ashes into a vinyl record!

As Open Culture puts it, “Even in death we are only limited by our imagination in how we want to go out. There are now ways to turn our corpse into a tree, or have our ashes shot into space, or pressing our ashes into diamonds–I believe Superman is involved in that last one. And now for the music lover, a company called And Vinyly will press your ashes into a playable vinyl record.

You like that punny company name? There’s more: the business lets the dear departed to ‘Live on from beyond the groove.’ Hear that groan? That’s the deceased literally spinning in their grave…on a turntable.”

Personally, I love this idea, of any idea, that lets us live on forever in the medium of our choosing. Our legacies extending as we become an active part of our loved ones’ lives, rather than just a distant memory lying six feet under.  Which begs the question: if you could come back as an inanimate object what would you want to come back as? My choice?  A book.  A biography about my life no less.  My entire life coming full circle.

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Is Vinyly the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,464 – DoorStash

We’ve all had food delivered to us.  Pizza.  Chinese food.  Perhaps even something like Taco Bell thanks to the modern convenience of food delivery services like GrubHub and Uber Eats.  But what happens when we want to have our food delivered somewhere else?  What recourse do we have?  The sad answer is that nothing happens.  Our leftovers just get discarded.  Tossed aside.  Wasted.

I’d like to change that by doing something that a lot of restaurants do and that’s donating leftovers to charity to feed the homeless.  It’s an issue that we’re all well aware of, that we’d all like to do something about, but the problem is that there just isn’t any infrastructure in place to create a reverse supply chain.  But I think that there is.  The infrastructure already existing in the form of the food delivery services themselves.

Instead of delivering fresh food drivers would just pick up leftovers.  Delivering them to homeless shelters and food banks.  A reverse delivery service of sorts, with the pickups and deliveries getting handled through the app just like when you’re ordering a 2 am delivery from Jack in the Box.  Costs covered by the consumers who could then use the donations as a tax write-off.

Instead of DoorDash this would be DoorStash and it would have the potential to fix our logistical problem, finally figuring out what to do with all that wasted leftover food once and for all.

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Is DoorStash the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,428 – Living Art Parade

Art wasn’t meant to be static.  It was meant to be interpreted, re-imagined in new ways, brought to life.  Murals, stain glass windows, canvases and tapestries adorning entire museum walls are great.  Performance art even better.  Which is why I love the Japanese.

For the last twenty two years Japan has been hosting an annual Art History Parade for Halloween, where people dress up as famous paintings and then walk around the city carrying a picture frame around them to complete the look, making it seem as though the portraits have come to life.

According to Hyperallergic human paintings this past year included:

“A self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa,’ Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream,’ and Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring.'”

If you want to view a portion of the parade you can check it out below:

Is a Living Art Parade the Greatest Idea Ever?

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I’ve always suspected that the future of architecture and design will be unimaginably different from today’s techniques.  Figuring that it was only a matter of time before we 3D printed entire buildings or used breakthroughs in materials science to develop entirely new ways of constructing homes and businesses.  And as time has gone on we’ve seen several examples of how this evolution in construction may play out.  There’s been super wood, thirsty concrete, and even the implementation of living houses made of biological materials thanks to DARPA.  But this latest innovation takes the cake.

As Futurism reports, “Forget scarves and mittens. Soon, we might be able to knit entire buildings.  A team from the Swiss university ETH Zurich has developed a technique that allows them to knit textiles that can then form the scaffolds for large concrete structures. As a proof of concept, they created a 13-foot-tall architectural structure that’s now on display in Mexico City.”

As the technique improves and technology advances it will be interesting to see just how far we can take this architectural approach.  Is there a limit to how tall the structures get?  Could we use it produce buildings with complex designs ranging from flying buttresses to elegant domes?  Or would it only work for mass producing cookie cutter structures of a limited size?  Perhaps making it ideal for mass-producing low-income housing projects.

I’m not sure.  But either way it may be time to stop making fun of those ugly sweaters that your grandmother knitted for you for Christmas.  For the time may have finally come to give knitting its proper due.  Crochet it isn’t so.

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Is knitting buildings the Greatest Idea Ever?

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It sounds like the plot of a Black Mirror episode come to life.  News that China is actually moving forward with a dystopian plan to track and judge every single citizen based on their actions.  With the program getting kicked off in Beijing over the next few years.

As Bloomberg explains, “The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal government’s website on Monday. Those with better so-called social credit will get ‘green channel’ benefits while those who violate laws will find life more difficult.”

How so?  Well, travel benefits might be one such way a person’s social credit score is put to use.  Imagine, for instance, that you need a certain score in order to purchase a first class ticket.  Or that you may not even be allowed to purchase a ticket at all if your score is too low.  In this way social credit scores become a form of wealth, with high scores and the perks that come along with them becoming the new status symbols.

Personally I love this plan as it harkens back to my old idea for the Game of Life.  Brush your teeth and earn points.  Visit the doctor and earn points.  Donate to charity and earn a bucket load of points.  Rinse.  Wash.  Reap.  The benefits that is.  As the world becomes a better place around you.  Think about it.

With rewards in place for cleaning and recycling there would be less pollution.  With rewards for going to the doctor there would be less illness.  With rewards in place for studying we’d all be more educated.  There’d even be less crime, since committing even a petty crime, would devastate not just your own social status, but your entire families as well.

Of course we’d prefer that people just did these things out of the kindness of their heart.  Prefer it if their motivations were coming from a moral high ground or that they were at the very least just motivated to follow the law.  But it would be naïve of us to think that morality and lawfulness work 100% of the time.  Clearly they do not.  Perhaps gamification could fill in the missing pieces.  Address those citizens that slip through the cracks of the current system.  Considering how glued we already are to our cell phones and how intrinsic gaming culture already is in our lives, it’s fair to wonder if such a plan could actually work.

However, the concept is not without risk.  First of all, there’s no way of knowing the social impacts that this system will have.  Will people with low scores, even if no fault of their own, be ostracized from society?  With it further drive a wedge between the haves and the have nots.  Furthermore, could the government unfairly reward or deduct points to certain groups of people that it favors?  Could the system be hacked or gamed to the advantage of certain people?  And how would a foreign tourist without an existing social credit score even be able to navigate through the city?

These are all good questions.  Ones that I don’t have the answer to.  Hopefully China does.  Or we may all be in for a plot twist that we never saw coming.

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Is a social credit system the Greatest Idea Ever?

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