Saturday, 10 March 2018

Ad blocker for the real world - the end of out-of-home advertising

One of the great benefits I'm looking forward to when donning my AR glasses in the, hopefully not too distant, future is the software that I'm sure will quickly be developed allowing me to block out all out-of-home advertising.

Using AI/machine learning/image recognition every billboard can be detected, and it's contents changed to something I want to see, rather than something someone else wants me to see. It could be that the billboard itself is detected, or perhaps the content. Content detection could be through either machine learning techniques or crowd-sourcing, or a combination of the two.

It might even possible for my AR glasses to block TV advertising, and use noise cancelling technology so I don't have to hear them either.

I hope these technologies empower consumers to have a more balanced relationship with the brands that advertise to them.

Pooing in bags

When we flush faeces and urine into the drains we flush away valuable data. Data that is important for our own health, but also for medical research and for the early detection of transmissible diseases.

In the future I expect we will poo into bags and pee into pots, which are immediately sealed and taken by robots to automated laboratories.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Rotating climbing wall with servo-controlled pins for holds

Rotating climbing walls already exist, but as far as I can see from my research, they are a fixed set of holds on a rotating surface (by fixed I mean that they don't change within one continuous climb).

It should be possible however to make a rotating climbing wall with servo/solenoid-controlled pins for holds. These holds can come in and out of the surface, changing the configuration dynamically whilst the user is on the other side of the board. Hence the user has a continuous non-repeating climb.

The holds could be made from the same material as normal climbing holds, and could be configured with various shapes. It may be possible (and necessary) to have a door that covers the hole for the hold to retract into, so the user isn't tempted to use the entrance of the hole as a hold.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Storing stuff in caves with drones

There are a number of advantages to storing things in caves: the potentially vast area relative to surface land costs; the lack of construction necessary; the constant temperature; the inherent security (provided all the entrances to the cave system are know). But they can be dangerous, and hard to navigate (uneven surfaces, etc).

Enter drones. Inaccessibility / navigation is drastically improved with UAVs. And there's no hazard to human health. The cave system can easily be mapped by UAVs, and watertight packages deposited throughout the system.

Monday, 2 January 2017

How do people become successful?

Perhaps there are other factors that I'm missing, but I have attempted to summarise the key factors that enable people to become successful, as follows:
  • Money
  • Status
  • Power
  • Contacts
  • Good looks
  • Skill
  • Intelligence
  • Hard work

The first five are circumstances of birth - being born to parents that have money, status, power or contacts, or being born with good looks. The next two are partially nature, partially nurture. I suspect there's both nature and nurture elements to being a hard worker, but it starts to get into free will debates if you think too hard on this one.

Status vs contacts

I have considered whether status and contacts could be conflated, however is possible, particularly historically, to have status without a particularly useful set of contacts. For example, being born with a hereditary title provides status without necessarily providing contacts.

It perhaps could be argued that status is the formal recognition of a person's place in society (through title or position), whereas contacts are an informal recognition of place in society.

Top trumps

It would be interesting to have a top trumps game with successful people rated by which of the above listed factors contributed to their success.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

What we copyright, and how AI might change that

Copyright protects the expression of ideas, not ideas themselves. And at some point, artificial intelligence is going to automate the expression of an idea. This will mean that it will be possible to copy a copyright protected work without infringing copyright.

Computer games are a particularly good example. The graphics of the game are copyrightable as is the story. But not the gameplay. All the thousands of first person shooters out there don't pay royalties to the creators of Wolfenstein 3D. With advanced artificial intelligence it should be possible for the AI to analyse a game, understand the gameplay, and then create a new game that is sufficiently different in graphics and plot, but nonetheless captures idea. And given its the AI doing the implementation in the first place, what value then is there to the human coming up with the novel gameplay mechanic? Not much. There are cheaper clones within minutes of release.

To a lesser, but still significant, extent the same is true of movies and books. The plot can be analysed and an expression thereof created.

What does this tell us?

In some ways it suggests that copyright is somewhat strange: it values expression (implementation) more than ideas. And yet it is ideas that seem to me to be what advances us as a species. Someone could take the idea expressed in this blog post and, using different words express it themselves in a revenue-generating medium, and I would have no recourse against that person profiting from my idea (as an aside I have not done the necessary research to confirm this is an original idea, but I can confirm it is independent).

The other thing that this expected future suggests is that copyright will either be extended in some way to ideas, or will lessen in significance as automation of expression becomes feasible.

Optimizing train carriage utilization - signs on platforms

For various reasons different carriages in trains get fuller than others. This reduces the comfort of passengers, and in extreme cases means that other passengers do not have enough space to board.

But this is a fairly simple problem to solve with existing technology. We can measure the occupancy of a carriage in numerous ways:

  • optical cameras coupled with image recognition technology
  • thermal imaging that captures the number of separate heat sources, or perhaps the aggregate heat being emitted
  • thermometers would probably be sufficient to assess the occupancy to some degree
  • pressure sensors on the seats or floor
  • carbon dioxide levels
  • optical beams measuring entry and egress
  • etc
And we can communicate that information to passengers at subsequent stations. For example, the platform could have lights built into the floor which are greener where the carriages are emptier, and redder where they are fuller.