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
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.