Archive for May 2011
They say the Universe is mainly made up of empty space – as is matter itself, with vast distances (relatively speaking) existing between the electrons and other stuff, despite any illusionary sensation of tactility.
Well, likewise with the way we exist as humans. There is a huge amount of empty space in our lives. A wasteful existence that requires optimisation – to use a software engineering term!
- Our cars sit idle for 75% of the day. (That is a guess.)
- Our homes and offices sit empty for 50% of the (24 hour) day.
- Even our computers are only using about 10% of their processing power on average while we are actually using them, unless one is a pro photographer or video editor. (Something SETI chose to exploit a while back.)
- UPDATE: A colleague mentioned lawn mowers! They sit around for almost 95% of each month doing nothing. What if we shared them? Of course, the effect on sales by producers if consumers shared would be catastrophic. Further, the machines we share would wear out quicker. When resources do run low, we may have no choice though and be forced to build things to last longer.
Recently, several startups have launched ventures that now offer a way to harness all this ‘whitespace’ in our lives:
- Airbnb allows you to rent that empty accommodation while you’re elsewhere. (Albiet, fairly high class accommodation, suited to vacation rentals. But I do recall there was a couch surfing venture somewhere for those seeking a more humble abode!)
- Not using your car? GetAround solves that one! Self driving cars, the most reliable developed by Google, will turn cars into taxis, a very efficient way to travel – and most importantly, less stressful. Other than the fare or being stuck in traffic when due for an appointment, I think we can all agree that taxis reduce transport stress a great deal!
Which begs the question, what other opportunities are there to harness empty space, such as:
- Wireless spectrum
- Parking spaces
- The human mind! How much time do we actually spend thinking? What about tapping into our minds when we’re asleep? (The ethics of hooking our minds up to some remote system for discussion elsewhere.) 😉
Fight back club: What will you optimise today?
I chose the term ‘Web 4.0’ because each shift in the use of the web has attacked a specific issue. Although Reality Optimisation itself does not necessarily relate to the web exclusively, as the above examples prove, it is likely that web technology will aid in making our lives more efficient. Outsource to the machine!
UPDATE: 26 May 2011 – GetAround have won the TechCrunch Disrupt awards. Awesome!
Posting this in reference to this post on Engadget that features a far more sophisticated creation.
The ZX-81 shown above is currently in our office and by re-fitting a resistor I removed to fix another gadget in the 1980s, it should still function
I also built a functioning lego bedside alarm clock (pics yet to be scanned in) and a hovercraft, although the latter cheated – it had wheels! Well, I was only about 7 or 8 at the time and yet to acquire an electric motor powerful enough to produce the necessary lift! 😉
In 1982 I won a Sinclair Spectrum in a competition to design a computer of the future. Later, a huge lightening bolt hit our house travelling down the TV antenna, arcing across to the electricity cables and destroying ALL our electronic gear including the Spectrum, our new colour TV and my JVC/Sony/Technics HiFi. With the insurance payout, I bought a BBC Micro 32K and learned 6502 assembler. And that dear reader, is how we started the company!