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Some Random Ideas

This is my job; generating ideas and putting them online. The following small collection includes a way to have a lottery in which nobody loses, a self-writing book, and a little technique for changing your experience of life.

The Can't-Lose Lottery

Here's the scenario: You buy a lottery ticket for a dollar, but the drawing will be in five years. Every ticket holder will "win" at least the original dollar at that time. Three lucky ticket holders each win $100,000. You can't lose! Now let's look at how we make this work...

The idea is that the state sells 10 million tickets in each offering. They take expenses and a profit out of $1.5 million, then invest the other 8.5 million for the five years, getting a return of at least 5%, which means it grows to at least $10.85 million. This covers all tickets--the three big winners and the ones redeemed at face value. At least a few hundred thousand would be gained from tickets that are lost or not redeemed for other reasons, so after paying out perhaps $10 million total, the state gains another $850,000 for whatever programs area funded using the lottery.

Change the Story to Change the Experience

As a child I imagined alternate scenarios when faced with the assumptions of others. For example, if my father was yelling at another driver for being stupid, I might wonder if the other driver was on his way to the hospital with a sick child, or perhaps sick himself with a heart attack. That changed the "story" which had created or justified the anger. This is a nifty little trick for becoming more tolerant of people and for feeling a little bit more at peace. Certainly we can use the technique as adults too.

Consumer Friendly Government

A few years back Netflix sponsored a competition for mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists. The goal was to take data on how customers had rated the movies they had rented and use it to predict how they would rate others. Netflix wanted to make better recommendations to their customers. The prize of a million dollars would go to whichever person or team could create software which did 10% better at the predictions than the system Netflix was currently using. It took the winning team a couple years to produce their software (several teams joined forces).

Why not apply this kind of thinking to creating a better government? As consumers of government services (as voters), we might be polled as to how much we like this or that policy or law that has been enacted. A computer program will then predict how desired any given legislation will be with the populace. Politicians might then run on the basis of their record for identifying and meeting the actual desires and preferences of the voters. Their "score" in this regard (based on how the legislation they vote for is rated by voters) could be posted publicly.

Hiring The Best Person

There is a problem inherent in hiring employees based on set standards or requirements. It is essentially this: you might exclude some of the best people for the job. It is perhaps true that a college degree increases the probability that a man is suited to a position, but requiring that degree can also exclude the best man for the job if that man happens to not meet the requirement.

What's the solution? One that comes to mind is an "employee value score." It could be tailored to each industry, and compiled for each individual like a credit rating, based on various factors. Perhaps a general score based on things like attitude, energy, productivity, and such would be a start, and applicable to all positions, with an additional score added as appropriate to the specific position and the likelihood that the individual will do well in it. These both could be figured using existing experience and testing for abilities, aptitude, and other factors. The scoring could be submitted to voluntarily by any person who wanted to offer it as part of his or her resume.

Self Writing Book

The idea here is to start a book as though it is the main character and let it travel around the country or world, growing as others added to it. Okay, this takes a bit of explanation. The book might start something like this: "I am the first conscious book, born in these words written from the mind of Steve Gillman and by his hand. Here is who I am and what I want of this world."

A bit of character development and a list of places "he" (the book) wants to visit would follow. In the introduction readers are instructed to help the book in its travels, and add to it. This means writing from the perspective of the book, while noting where it is and who has it and what is going on. Hopefully the "book" will add its own commentary on these things through the words written by others. To facilitate the latter, it would be narrated in the first person, which makes it easier for each writer to feel the personality developing.

Eventually it is meant to return to me to be published. would include my address of course. I might also suggest a limit of two weeks for each reader/writer before they pass it on, allowing it to continue its journey.


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