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Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

The other day I was thinking about how weird it was that I could hear myself thinking internally.  Not only can I say something out loud so that others can hear me but I can also then pause, and say that exact same statement to myself so that only I can hear it.  This phenomenon isn’t unique to me and it really isn’t even a phenomenon at all.  It’s called your inner voice and it’s something that we all experience.  But this got me thinking.  Specifically, I happened upon a line of thinking that went something like this: if I’m capable of talking to myself, what if I could talk to someone else internally; and what if that someone else, or something else, was an advanced intelligence?

Usually, hearing a voice inside your head has a negative social stigma.  It’s not something that you’d want to admit to your neighbors.  But what if there was an implantable device, a literal voice inside your head, that helped you navigate your way through life?  That scanned your surroundings and gave you advice about what to do next.  That reminded you about the things you have to do.  That could answer questions that you may have so that you never again have to go through life ill prepared.  Not only might you admit that to your neighbors, you’d positively be brimming with joy about it.

Just consider the possibilities.  You could receive turn by turn directions while driving without having to take your eyes off the road.  You could ask yourself, “who is that?” when running into an acquaintance on the street thereby impressing them that you remembered their name.  If you happen to meet someone and get their phone number you don’t have to worry about trying to remember it by repeating it over and over again.  You’d just have to repeat it once and ask your new best friend to remember it for you.  Perhaps the implant could even act like Steve Martin in Roseanne and feed romantic lines to you.

Furthermore, if you have an idea you don’t have to write it down.  You just have to say it to yourself.  Journals would soon become a thing of the past.  You wouldn’t need to collect your thoughts when they’re already being collected for you.  If you get into a car accident or a skirmish with someone and there’s a legal proceeding, the data collected by this implantable device, i.e. what your dopamine levels were, what your heart rate was, whether or not you were scared or excited, what you were thinking, would all be on record and admissible in court.

Speaking to this artificially intelligent entity without verbalizing commands might be the closest thing that we ever come as a species to communicating telepathically.  Or perhaps, if two people both have these implants maybe there could be a way for them to communicate to each other through Bluetooth and make it so that we were really are communicating telepathically.

Not only that but loneliness might soon become a thing of the past if we have a friend that we can banter with at all times.  Crime rates might dwindle as well, if whenever we’re thinking about doing something illegal there’s a forceful voice inside our heads telling us not to.

Of course all of this is just conjecture on my part.  I have no idea if any of this is even remotely possible.  But I’d like to think that is.  The technology sure seems to be progressing in the right direction.  For instance, we have brain prosthetics that enable people to control robotic limbs with their thoughts.  We’ve conducted tests that prove that it’s possible for two people hooked up to brain to brain interfaces to control each other’s actions.  We’re working on cortical modems and neural dust that might enable us to access the internet directly from our minds.  If Ray Kurzweil is to be believed we’re not too far away from getting to the point where we can download our consciousness’s into computers so that we can live forever.  Computers themselves are advancing to the point where thanks to neural nets they can understand natural language and draw conclusions on their own accord.  Our understanding of DNA, genetics, and biology continues to progress as well as thanks in large part to the development of the CRISPR-CAS-9 gene editing technique.  Throw in 4-D printing, programmable matter, and Moore’s Law and it may not be a stretch to say that this outlandish claim would be possible.  In fact, it may even be inevitable at this rate.

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Here’s a quick look at everything I’ve been thinking about lately:

The Oscars are getting criticized for adding a new category called “Achievement in Popular Film”, which is a way for the Academy to acknowledge the accomplishments of a movie that isn’t critically acclaimed yet still becomes a blockbuster.  Black Panther would have swept this award last year. Infinity War will likely be the favorite this year.  But there’s a different category that I wish they would add an award for: Achievement in an Opening Credit Sequence.  These montages set the mood for the movie or make me completely lose interest in it before it starts.  Some of them are really quite spectacular.  It’s time that we acknowledged their greatness.

I always try to slip on my shoes, even if the laces are already tied, and even if they aren’t slip-ons, rather than just untie them and retie them like a normal person.  I’m sure I can’t be the only one who does this.  Perhaps sneaker and shoe companies should consider this phenomenon when designing shoes and make the back heel of shoes collapsible so as to make them easier to slide on.

I wish there was an IMDB for writers so that I could know what my favorite authors were working on next.

Here’s a new dating concept: Escape room dating.  Put groups of 6-8 single people in an Escape room (3 or 4 members of each sex) and set them loose to try and problem solve their way out of the room.  It’ll be a fun ice-breaker as you’ll get to see everyone in a relaxed atmosphere.  You’ll also get to see how everyone responds to pressure and how well they can play with others.  You can rule out dating the hyper-competitive know-it-alls and give a chance to the shy, quiet type that you worked really well with, the same person who you might have otherwise never spoken to if not for the game.

Here’ a new restaurant concept: Roast master.  A restaurant specializing in Roast Beef, where the theme of the restaurant is insult comedy.  Comedy Central Roasts play in the waiting room while you wait for your table and live roast battles take place on the stage while you dine.  In between battles, the waiters and bus boys come around to serve you food, refill your drinks, and insult you to your face.  On the way out you can try to throw a tomato at a heckler just like at a Renaissance Festival or get revenge on your waiter while they sit in a dunk tank hurling even more insults in your direction.

Speaking of roasts I think it would be great if Comedy Central roasted a regular person, not just an over the hill celebrity like Bruce Willis.  The knock on this idea is that comedians wouldn’t be interested in roasting someone they didn’t know, and the audience wouldn’t watch a roast when they wouldn’t know any of the inside jokes, etc.  But as Roast Battle shows you don’t necessarily need to know the person to laugh at a good insult.  Plus you could minimize some of that by introducing the roastee via a video montage at the beginning of the show.  I would even volunteer myself to be the very first roastee!

One of my biggest pet peeves is that some of the photos that I take, which look great when viewed on my phone, don’t translate into the smaller window frame on Instagram.  Case in point: a recent full length shot of a 200 foot tall tree in Olympic National Park.  When viewed on my phone’s gallery you can see the whole tree.  When trying to post to Instagram you have to crop out half the tree if you want to post the image.  This is annoying.  I wish there was a way when lining up the shot that I can see what portion of it was going to fit on Instagram.  Perhaps I could have changed the angle of my shot accordingly.  I wonder then if there is a way to create a plug-in that you could download that would overlay an Instagram optimization frame over your phone’s view finder.

Is it just me or are electric razors really loud?  I feel like I’m disturbing my neighbors every time I shave in the morning.  If I was married I would most definitely be disturbing my spouse.  Perhaps we should invent a silencer for electric razors to muffle the sound?

Speaking of neighbors I think it would be cool if there was a way to create a CB radio network for apartment buildings, like there is for truckers, so that you could communicate with your neighbors.  This way you can send out an open-ended message to anyone in the neighborhood that you are down to hang out to watch the big-game if anyone wanted to come over, or, more importantly, so that you can yell at a noisy neighbor to keep it down, without having to confront them face to face.

Considering how much we use our hands throughout the day (and how dirty they could get) doesn’t it make more sense to greet one another, not with a handshake, but by touching our shoes together?  As popular as soccer is around the world I’m surprised there aren’t more greetings that involve foot to foot contact.

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Is a roast themed restaurant the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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Here’s a quick look at some of the things I’ve been thinking about lately:

  • 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 or otherwise piss each other off as much.

 

  • When I was riding my bike through the back roads behind the Garden of Versailles recently I encountered a family of horses who were having a bad day, or at least that’s what my perception of their experience was.  You see, these horses were just getting absolutely hounded by annoying flies and there was nothing they could do about it.  What a miserable existence this must be for wildlife and livestock alike.  Just standing there, day after day, with hundreds of flies all up in their shit.  Why can’t we do something about this?! Would it be possible to invent a bug spray for animals?! Has anyone ever looked into this? Does anyone care enough to do it now?  Animals need our help! Maybe even animal sunscreen while we’re at it.

 

  • Why are pens and pencils sold as one size fits all? Everyone’s hands are different sizes.  A grown man would feel more comfortable using a pencil of a certain width and height that a child wouldn’t even be able to grip.  Wouldn’t it make sense then to invent an adjustable height writing utensil?!

 

  • Perhaps one way to make the NBA more fair is to limit how many minutes someone can play in a particular game.  So, instead of LeBron James leading his team to 8 straight NBA Finals and instead of the Warriors winning the championship every year, you’d instead have a situation where the best teams would be the deepest teams or the teams that manage the playing time of their star players the best.  This is how some youth leagues are run, where kids are paying to play and so everyone has to play a somewhat equal amount.  Perhaps this could work in the NBA as well.

 

  • It bothers me that AM and FM stations are on different dials on the car radio.  I get that they are on different frequencies but why should I have to toggle between two different settings to get to them?  Wouldn’t it be easier to just put them together on one dial that scrolls through all stations in numerical order?

 

  • Did you know that if you travel to another country you may not be able to charge your phone?! Some countries have different outlets and so your charger may not work.  This is crazy! Let’s create a universal outlet standard and implement that standard around the world.  We shouldn’t have to travel internationally with special adapters.

 

  • When I was in London recently I couldn’t watch HBO even though I am a paying customer.  I get that HBO isn’t available to stream in the UK but shouldn’t that rule just apply to people who live there and who otherwise would have to pay for cable?  Why would it also apply to people just passing through who want to use their account to watch something on an iPad?  This is worse than the MLB app not letting let you stream games in your home market.

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If we had a spatial awareness wearable device we wouldn’t bump into each other as much.

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I’d like to have a YouTube channel but I don’t own a camera.  I’d like to have a podcast but I don’t own any recording equipment.  I’d like to self-publish a book but I don’t have a printer.  I’d like to become an artist but I don’t have access to an art gallery.

In today’s day and age it’s easier than ever to create content.  We take pictures, pass around memes, generate fan fiction, speak our minds, share our thoughts and write about our experiences.  But we do so in private.  On our own.  As amateurs.  And often times at great personal expense.  I’d like to change that.  I’d like to bring our side hustles to the forefront.

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.

You could show up one night and participate in a Paint Night or take a class that would teach you about low light photography.  Show up another night and attend a spoken word poetry slam or learn how to write a children’s book.  Watch community theater or learn how to code the next.  It would be everything a creative person would need to live their life to the fullest.

Think of it like a gym for the soul.  And just like a real gym, it would be supported by people paying a monthly membership fee.  Considering how much value you’re getting i.e. access to expensive equipment, access to classes and services, proximity to other like-minded people, this fee would be worth it.  Even if it does cost something like $50 per month.

Similar entities already exist.  Think of the modern day machine shop filled with 3-D printers, laser cutters, and other expensive pieces of equipment that the small-time DIY hobbyist can’t afford to own.  These workshops and tool libraries pick up the slack, creating an environment where people can chase their dreams.  And yet when it comes to creative pursuits, our options are vastly limited.

Maybe your library or church hosts an event.  Maybe your friend has a piece of equipment that you can borrow.  Maybe your side hustle is good enough and you get lucky enough to make a living at it full-time.  But the majority of people aren’t so lucky.  They’re just scrapping by, wishing upon a star as they angrily making their way through the pages of an expletive filled adult coloring book, hoping upon hope that their next passion project will finally be the one to propel them into the limelight.

To change this we could take an abandoned strip mall and convert into a creative outlet mall.  We could make the Creative Commons a literal commons.  A place where creative people can congregate to pursue their hopes and dreams.  A place where everything exists and anything is possible.

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Is a creative outlet mall the Greatest Idea Ever?

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A few weeks ago I was in Chicago, marveling at the 68 ornately designed Thorne Miniature Rooms in the bowels of the Chicago Art Institute, thanks to a tip from my friends over at Atlas Obscura, when I had an epiphany.

As I gazed at each exquisitely hand-crafted miniature room, each one depicting what it would have been like to live in various times periods across a myriad of different cultures, I realized that what the world needs right now is a different take on these works of art.  Instead of miniature rooms paying homage to our old ways of life, what we need are miniature rooms that would pay homage to our current and future ways of life.  What we need, are miniature rooms designed to depict the greatest scenes in modern science.  Pint sized inspiration to lead us through these dark times.

For instance, instead of a Victorian era home we’d have a to-scale model of the International Space Station.  Instead of a castle we’d have a particle collider.  The possibilities are endless.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the possible scientifically themed miniature rooms that we could have:

  • The International Space Station
  • The Large Hadron Collider
  • The Moon Landing
  • Houston Space Command
  • NASA Ames Research Center
  • Any other NASA facility
  • George Church’s lab at Harvard
  • The Seastead Institute Cruise Ship
  • Asgardia Space Station
  • Apple’s New Spaceship Campus
  • Googleplex
  • Facebook’s campus
  • Amazon’s headquarters
  • Foxconn factory where the iPhone is made
  • Hyperloop test track
  • Elon Musk’s lair
  • Spaceport America
  • Einstein in a classroom
  • Doomsday Seed Vault
  • Library of Alexandria
  • Library of Congress
  • Tesla’s lab
  • Ford factory assembly line
  • Internet of Things connected home of the future
  • Plato and Socrates debating in the town square
  • The iconic electronic billboard of Times Square
  • Steve Jobs and the Woz in their garage
  • Stanford’s Campus
  • Silicon Valley
  • Sand Hill Road (venture capitalism)
  • The accidental discovery of penicillin in a lab
  • Leonardo Da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa
  • Florence, Italy in its heyday
  • Athens, Greece in its heyday
  • The Renaissance
  • Egyptian hieroglyphics
  • The first stone tablet being created
  • Cave paintings
  • Science Fiction
    • The Bridge of the Starship Enterprise
    • Emmett Brown’s garage featuring the Dolorean
  • SETI Telescope Field
  • The Hubble Telescope
  • World’s Fair grounds
  • Tomorrowland at Disney
  • Stonehenge
  • The Great Pyramids
  • Other famous archaeological sites
  • Cloud computing server farm
  • Modern bedroom of a standard 13 year old app developer
  • The first room sized computer mainframe
  • The ITER fusion reactor facility

As you can see, anywhere that innovation occurs would be fair game from the research labs where famous discoveries occurred to the old stomping grounds frequented by famous scientists.  Anywhere and everywhere that science has occurred.

Now if only I knew someone capable of making such rooms…

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Are scientifically themed Thorne Miniature Rooms the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Here’s a look at everything that tickled my fancy over the past week:

Liquid Light:  For the first time scientist have achieved “liquid light” at room temperature.

According to Science Alert, “Regular light behaves like a wave, and sometimes like a particle, always travelling in a straight line. That’s why your eyes can’t see around corners or objects. But under extreme conditions, light can also act like a liquid, and actually flow around objects.  Bose-Einstein condensates are interesting to physicists because in this state, the rules switch from classical to quantum physics, and matter starts to take on more wave-like properties.  They are formed at temperatures close to absolute zero and exist for only fractions of a second.  But in this study, researchers report making a Bose-Einstein condensate at room temperature by using a Frankenstein mash-up of light and matter.”

This breakthrough could help physicists better understand the way that the Universe works while also leading to improvements on existing light based technologies such as LEDs, lasers, and solar panels.

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Space Fabric: NASA’s new space material is a three-in-one, jack-of-all-trades.

As Wired puts it, “Researchers at JPL spent the last two years developing a metallic space fabric made of interlocking stainless steel squares. It looks like chain mail, but unlike the ancient armor, NASA’s fabric isn’t welded together. Instead a 3-D printer extrudes stainless steel as a continuous sheet of material with different properties on each side. From the front of the fabric, rows of shiny, flat squares can reflect heat and light. On the back, a series of interlocking loops help the fabric absorb heat. Together, the single piece of material acts like a super-strong shield, protecting astronauts and space crafts from outer orbit’s deadly obstacles.  The fabric isn’t special in its functionality, per se; NASA already employs materials on its space crafts to reflect heat, absorb heat, and protect from flying debris. But until now, NASA didn’t have a single material that could do all three.”

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The first AI Language: The singularity may be closer than we thought.  Facebook’s chat bots just created their own non-human language.

Futurism explains:

“In the report, researchers from the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab (FAIR) describe training their chatbot “dialog agents” to negotiate using machine learning. The chatbots were eager and successful deal-making pupils, but the researchers eventually realized they needed to tweak their model because the bots were creating their own negotiation language, diverting from human languages.  To put it another way, when they used a model that allowed the chatbots to converse freely, using machine learning to incrementally improve their conversational negotiation strategies as they chatted, the bots eventually created and used their own non-human language.”

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Quantum Communication Breakthrough: We may be one step closer to unhackable computers thanks to this latest development.

According to I Fucking Love Science, “Chinese scientists have achieved a milestone in quantum communication. They were able to send a pair of entangled photons over a distance of 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) using the satellite they launched last August. The previous record for quantum communication was about 100 kilometers (62 miles).”

That’s a 12x improvement over the previous record!

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Yes, these are the things that I actually think about:

  • Lots of people seem to think that dogs like music.  Dog owners who are going to be out of the house for a while may be inclined to leave the stereo or TV on for their pet so that they won’t feel lonely.  That’s all fine and dandy but if pets really do like music how come we only play it for them when we’re inside?  Lots of people go for jogs while listening to headphones.  But you never see a dog listening to headphones while on a walk.  Wouldn’t they want to break up the monotony of a walk the same way humans would?  If they like music wouldn’t they want to listen to some on a walk?  Perhaps we should invent dog headphones!  Is this even technologically possible?  Would their even be a market for such an invention?

 

  • The last few times I’ve gone antiquing I’ve seen things that would have made good gifts for other people.  I didn’t get the items at the time but figured that if I ever did need a gift for this person I’d know where to go.  Except that I’ve already forgotten what the item was, where it was, and who it was for.  And it’s only been two weeks!  It’s with that in mind that I wish we had a way to quickly and easily record mental notes.  Sure, I could take a picture of the item, record a voice memo, send an email to myself, or write it down on a physical piece of paper but all of those options require at least a little bit of effort and would draw attention to yourself when perhaps you’re trying to be discrete.  What I’d like to come up with instead is a way to literally capture a mental note.  Perhaps with a cognitive implant of some sort?

 

  • The other day a friend of mine came up with a great point when comparing physical books with e-readers: all things being equal physical books will always be better than e-readers because with a physical book someone else will always know what you’re reading.  With an e-reader you can’t tell.  Perhaps that’s the way you like it but from my friend’s point of view she would rather people know.  For two reasons.  First of all, being able to see what you’re reading is a great conversation starter if you’re hoping that a guy will talk to you.  Secondly, you’re promoting what you’re reading so that other people will want to it read too.  Perhaps neither of those reasons are appealing to you and you’re fine with the ambiguity of e-readers.  But for people like my friend what I’d like to suggest is an optional e-ink screen on the back of an e-reader that would show people what you were reading.  This screen would only reflect books that you were reading and wouldn’t display any of your other website or app activity.  It would also be entirely optional, opt-in only, and completely customizable, so that if you really wanted to you could show any book cover that you wanted, even if you weren’t actively reading that book at that time.

 

  • I feel like elevators could use a 21st Century upgrade.  And I’m not talking about sideways elevators or a Space Elevator.  Just minor changes. Such as having the ability to press undo if you accidentally hit the wrong floor (or floors as has been known to happen).  Or the ability to sync the call button with a sensor in your phone so that the elevator will start to come towards you as you approach it saving you precious seconds.

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Are dog headphones the Greatest Idea Ever?

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