The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘Du Jour of the Week’

What’s Next?

Here is an interesting way to think about what businesses will die in our lifetime.

Instead of trying to think about what is next in a ‘disruptive’ sort of way, think about what you don’t like about a current business. And then, that might be the key that some other company uses (or the company itself will use) to change that business. A business ‘dying’ is loose, then, because Shell may die in its current form but still exist as Shell. Ok, let’s jump in.

Oh wait. Amazon is an interesting one. I worry about how powerful Bezos is, and his company, but my worry doesn’t exceed the amount of saved effort that company provides. Same goes for Google. I don’t like a number of things about Google, but BOY do they make life easier. My thinking is to discount moral objections, because laziness is the key here. What don’t you like about a current company / service?

empty gray metal shopping card near assorted plastic bottles

When the grocery store notices how much candy and sugary cereal I buy the staff will pitch in and buy me a self-help book.

Know what I don’t think is worth it? Going to an NFL game regularly.

  • What if there were more trains that took me to/from the game without effort. No traffic, no wasted hours of getting in and out of the game.
  • If the NFL was smart, when they are pumping a city for tax dollars to make you pay for someone else’s thing, they’d also get some money for mass transit.
  • That cost is harsh, and then you tack on any food or drinks? Brutal. AND the annoyance of getting up to go get stuff and missing some of the game.
  • This one is something the NFL itself will have to fix, and right now they have no reason to … But if they saw a drop in attendance, I bet some changes might come along here.

Know what is prime for AI and a better experience? Grocery stores.

  • The grocery store involves a lot more thinking, walking, and repetition than is necessary. You go to the grocery store and let’s say 50% of your list is the same every time.
  • Why do you need to go pick all these things out, if you have a grocery store membership card your store already knows exactly what your habits are.
  • Why should you have to bother with finding a new recipe that aligns with what you like when the grocery store can do this for you? Again, they track everything you buy (assuming you have one of those cards) so they can see that you’re trying to eat healthier based on your trends, they can see that you’re into whole wheat pasta, lemons, and chicken, so why not have the grocery store propose a new recipe for you? AND, while you’re at it grocery store, why don’t you go ahead and just have a little robot put together my common things in one container, and your suggested items in another container, and have that waiting in a cart for me. (You could ping the grocery store via their to be built app and then boom, their little robots will run off and compile your cart.)

Know what everyone is sick of? Washing their hands.

  • Poop particles, are they really so harmful?
  • Nah I’m just kidding.
  • But what would really be nice is a tiny robot who would pop out of my desk and put some lotion on my knuckles so that my hands don’t hurt AND I don’t have greasy lotion fingers (and keyboard).

So back to you, dear reader. What’s next?

Taking Advantage of Your Local Dumb Dumbs!

I read an article called “China’s AI Awakening” because I find AI technology amazing (side-note: I fear for humanity, seriously) but here was a funny paragraph in the article.

Across the capital, in fact, I notice a remarkable amount of interest in artificial intelligence. In one restaurant, for instance, I find a machine that takes my picture and then supposedly uses AI to determine how healthy I am. This seems completely impossible, but the machine says I’m in great shape before suggesting that I have plenty to eat.

I think the world is RIPE for a new variation on magic elixirs, and the new-fangled magic elixir is technology as a whole, but AI, deep learning, machine learning, whatever label you want to slap on something that isn’t actually any of those things.

I remember hearing on the radio a thing about this automaton that played chess, and was incredible at it. And this was around 1790. It turns out that there was actually a person hidden underneath this automaton and it was controlling the machine. There was actual intelligence and craftiness put into the design, but only about 10% was that … and then it was 90% smoke and mirrors. I think the new age charlatan will come to your house (electronically or otherwise) telling you that here’s this special $10,000 toilet that’ll tell you how your diet is based on monitoring your … um, output. And really all it will do is make beeping noises and light up some little buttons and then say something which is OF COURSE true like, ‘you should probably eat more veggies, dude.’

woman holding teacup

Psst. Smoke and mirrors is corporate speak for bullshit.

Or maybe it’ll be a smart watch for $5,000 which is really just a Garmin but with some apps loaded on it that do things like say, ‘Based on your heart rate we have detected that your genetic history is … mixed.’ And you’ll go, ‘oh wow, thanks watch, tell me more!’ and it’ll say some bland stuff that applies to that 70% that’s in the middle of the bell curve and someone who’s actually FROM Africa, and their whole ancestry is straight up Africa will go, ‘the hell? What’re you saying, watch?’

My point in all of this is … technology is cool, and terrifying, and be afraid of it when wielded by corporations or governments, but be skeptical of anything you as an individual can afford that tells you it can do wonderful things.

But anyway while you’re here I’ve got this app I created where you take a few quizzes and it’ll match you up with your soulmate. It’s just $99 a month to have the app and the only reason it’s not like one shot and you’re done is because, well it’s pretty technical I’d hate to bore you with the details. But just imagine that soulmate. Pretty great, right?

Toastmasters Entertaining Speaker #5

The idea for this speech is ‘Speaking After Dinner.’ It’s an 8-10 minute speech. So uh … enjoy?

The Precise Moment

Who here has a hobby that they love?

(Wait for answers.)

Ok, what is it? Are you good at it? Does it take work?

Who here has someone that you love?

(Wait for answers.)

Are you good at loving that person? Does it take work?

I think the idea of ‘love at first sight’ is silly. SILLY! You can look at someone and at first sight know the answers to some pretty simple questions like, ‘do I like looking at this person?’ Yes, this is great, I’m soon going to be entering creepily staring territory. Or maybe it’s a no, not so much, how can one person look so creepy?

But LOVE at first sight? Love can’t be reached so easily. That’s diminishing what love is, in my opinion. Love is work. Love is enjoyable work, but it is work. You have to KNOW something to love it, and you can’t know something with a look. I’ve heard that you can’t know if you love someone until you experience the four seasons with that person. Those aren’t literal seasons but emotional ones. Have you gone through ecstatic highs, or heart-wrenching lows? Some people could be easy to love when they’re in a certain place, but people don’t stay in one place.

Now, switching from my emotional side talking to my engineering side – here is an interesting question! What was the exact moment you fell in love? Because there WAS an exact moment. You probably didn’t catch it, though. There you were, however many months into knowing this person and they grab a straw and pretend to be a unicorn and boop – there it went, the switch flipped from ‘not in love’ to ‘in love.’ That unicorn impression was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Yes, there were many long conversations, many rounds of putt-putt, maybe a vacation where you joined his or her family that preceded that unicorn impression but all of that stuff just got you 99% toward in love. And now here you are, officially, actually, really and truly IN. LOVE.

And maybe some of us are wise, and intuitive, and forward thinking and we can see things quickly and say things to ourselves like, “I’m going to marry this person.” But I would suggest that people think or say that BEFORE they’re in love, they’re just looking at their emotional histogram.

(Draw histogram)

And saying ok, yep, the results are clear, I will eventually end up in love with this person so I’m all clear to say something to my best friend like ‘hey this person and I are gonna get married.’

BUT, say you have only uncovered two of the four seasons at that point and you are soon going through one of those seasons, we’ll call it fall, and it turns out this person only eats Cinnamon Toast Crunch. WOAH. RED FLAG. Not cool. You broach the topic, ‘hey sweetie, hey darling, hey potential love of my life, you’re 30 now … so I bought you a cereal that is just a teensy bit less unhealthy because I don’t want you dead at 40.’ And the person throws a table over and then consumes a whole family size box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch as a coping mechanism.

Yikes. Marriage daydream cancelled.

But I posed a question that I like. What was the MOMENT you fell in love? Does anyone care to share?

(Wait for answers)

Or, perhaps an easier question, what was the moment you realized you loved someone?

(Wait for answers)

I can tell you the moment I realized I loved my wife, and it is definitely indicative of my engineering side. I think it was early in the year, maybe around this time of year even, and I was thinking about what I’d be doing. SxSW? A music festival in Houston in June? California with my family in July? And then I realized. Wait. A. Minute. Lauren’s not a conditional! Previously when I thought about plans in the future I would think, ‘if Lauren and I are together then this will be the plan … if we’re not, this will be the plan.’ Sounds cold, but I was factoring in when she would or wouldn’t join me on trips. But here I was thinking about all of these plans and Lauren was there, there was no question in my mind. I HAD to conclude that I was in love. Woah. Unexpected. And then, of course, the next natural step was to ask her to marry me because there was no sense delaying the tax advantages.

Now you have to figure out … did I really think that? Am I that kind of person? I’ll leave that to you.

In college I actually asked my family one of the questions I’ve asked you – what was the EXACT moment you fell in love? I was fascinated by the idea that there was some particular moment in time where you went from 99% to 100% … My mom tried to answer but said she remembered realizing when she was in love, but not the exact moment. My sister and brother-in-law both talked about moments when they realized things. My dad walked in the room at that point and I asked him the same question. And I’ll add, my dad is not a touchy-feely type, he is much more of a smart alec type. Remember that when you hear this answer. When asked, ‘do you know the exact moment you fell in love with mom?’ He replied without missing a beat, ‘it was the first time I saw her topless.’

Ah. Cherish these family memories.

Today is Valentine’s Day. Tonight, find someone or something that you love and think about how good and nice it is to have something to love. Cherish that, work at that, and that hard work will only pay dividends.

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