here is some blathering about things I think about….. there is not structure or analysis… just ideas to play with… insights I think I have seen… now what do I do with them???
1. a new community design – one designed around sharing…
Problem… people want access to a lot of varied experiences… but they don’t want to or can’t own and maintain all the resources to pursue their varied interests… e.g. sail boats, motor boats, fishing boats, airplanes, jet ski’s, paddle boards,
I live in a community in the summer where there are dozens of boats that sit idle all summer… maybe 20% go out at anyone time. They are poorly maintained and take up a lot of room. It’s a lot of wasted resource just sitting there depreciating and cluttering up the environment…
What if the community owned the boats, maintained them and they were there for the residents to use… either on a subscription basis (e.g. club dues) or a pay per use???? It would clean up the community… give everyone a broader selection of boats to use… and they would be much better maintained… and it would cost less for everyone… while creating a summer job for our young people to maintain the fleet and manage the operation.
Further examples of this are already appearing… e.g. car sharing through Uber and zipcar… house sharing through AirBnB… now let’s apply this further…
how many colonials in america have rooms that are almost never used e.g. formal dining room and living room. why do we have those rooms… because for a few days a year… you might use them… we clearly have an over supply. Wouldn’t it be far more efficient to have a flexible space that was available for when you need it?
how many upscale communities have many houses with pools in the back yard??? when I fly, i look down and all I see is a landscape littered with pools in these sprawling communities… why do we have this? they are mostly empty, most of the time… and by having separate pools we are further isolating ourselves and disengaging with community.
And what about the elderly…. why don’t we design communities where the elderly are included. Where they aren’t shipped off to a home where all old people go… why don’t we have a place for them in our community… so we can benefit from their wisdom…and we can take care of them as they took care of us growing up.
2. better matching solutions for couples, jobs, houses, etc.
I have spent my career in fields dominated by matching algorithms… and I consistently find that math only goes so far… then the judgement of individuals can provide insight that the algorithms can’t learn. An example is credit underwriting. We have the most amazing mathematicians working on algorithms to predict who is good credit and who is bad. These are great for identifying the quick kills and the quick passes. Those that are clearly qualified are simple decisions. Likewise, those that are clearly unqualified are similarly easily determined by the algorithms. If your FICO score is less than 530, you suck. you have shown yourself to a bad payer. You don’t deserve unsecured credit. Likewise, if you are over 760 FICO, you are going to pay your bills unless something catastrophic happens. The type 1 and 2 errors in these populations are extremely low and unlikely. however, the real opportunity is in the shades of grey. The winners and losers in the business of unsecured consumer credit are those that can parse the goods and bads in the FICO ranges between 660 and 720… everyone is always trying to get new data and build even more complex models to dissect this population and identify a good population that others can’t.
I have seen that a judgmental review by a credit analyst is very effective at deciphering this grey area. MBNA was great at this. when a credit analyst calls an applicant and asks them a bunch of questions, they are able to get a much richer picture of the consumer and they can apply their experientially based judgement to put a finer lens on this population. A good analytical shop will sit with the credit analysts, particularly those that out perform the average, and understand what they look at and their rationale… those model builders will then go and use that insight to build better models.
My gut says, the crowd can tell you more about an individual (and with more accuracy) than a model alone. it’s the combination of a model and human judgmental review that gives you the richest answer. however, algorithms prevail on the internet. They are used to target ads, to help you find stuff in search, find dates, find houses, find jobs… due to the abundance of choices and efficiency of the medium, there is not a big penalty for type 1 or 2 errors of these models… so the technologist who run these companies continue to invest in their models. but they can only be so good… because they lack the judgmental review on the grey area. and there is a big cost… its noise to the user… a user has to sift through hundreds, thousands, or more choices to find what they want… but that is slow and tedious… for an individual user… so how can we leverage the cloud to do the judgmental review for us.
For example, when posting a job… how do we find the best candidates… we post a job… and sift through responders… but those aren’t necessarily the best candidates… they are the best candidates that saw the ad and applied. They in fact could be the most desperate. I have found in my career, that the best hires are often the ones not looking… so how do we find the absolute best candidate… we do a search of linked in… or we hire a head hunter… to do the search or sift through responses… but neither of these are really leveraging the power of the crowd…. the crowd knows more about me than a linked in profile or a head hunter interview could ever tell… how do we leverage that insight???
3. electric planes.
I own a flight school. There are just a few basic costs in running a flight school. Fuel, maintenance, labor (pilots) and insurance. If our training planes were like my Tesla S, we would dramatically reduce the cost of at least two of these and maybe three. first, flying an electric plane with similar technology to the model S would drastically reduce the cost of flying. about 1/3 of the cost is fuel. Second, electric motors are much more reliable and maintenance free relative to internal combustion. Finally, with the improved reliability, I bet you find that the cost of insurance would decline too.
4. what are the implications of a world of abundance?
I think we are coming on a time when a fundamental principle of economics might be overturned… that is the principle of endless needs and wants… could there be a time approaching when we are satiated? where the world has enough wealth to provide satiation to all living people? maybe the bar keeps going up… or maybe we reach an point of enlightenment, where we realize more doesn’t equal happier… and we no longer need any more. What if that happens on a grand scale… then what does the world look like? What are the implications?
When I was in Hawaii last year… they talked about the early days with the indigenous people prior to european settlers… and they would leave their shoes on the front porch when they went inside, so that anyone in the community could use them if they needed them… is that the world of abundance?
Owning things is only relevant when they are scarce… but if they are abundant, then they will be free to use for all. how do you protect them from being misused or wasted? is there a finite limit on anything? or will our ingenuity innovate abundance????
The only finite thing I see is life itself… the time we have on this planet… today… we have not yet figured out how to extend lifespans… will scarcity be redefined to the use of the time we have… and optimizing it. you have 80-100 years in this life if you are lucky… how will you use it? what do you want to experience? it seems as though time will be the new currency of economy…. when optimizing the use of your time, what is the objective function… money? wealth? happiness? social impact? how many lives you touched? how many people adored you?
And what happens when we figure out how to extend lifespans…. 50, 100 or infinitely… then what? will we have overcrowding or will we stop having kids or will we innovate our way back to abundance????
5. how do we better redistribute wealth?
we have more than enough wealth to provide food, shelter, education and health care for the world. How do we bring everyone’s standard of living up to a minimum that enables them to pursue their happiness and prosperity without creating a disincentive for them to be productive…
Capitalism is our religion in the US…. its’ our unifying principle and belief system… but I wonder where its limits are… do we really have the stomach for survival of the fittest? is that where our heart lies? can we stand by and watch the weak die? what if survival of the fittest meant that a new species emerged that devoured all humans, would we stand by and say they are the stronger species or would we fight? won’t those that don’t proper in capitalism, stand up and fight?
Also, Capitalism and democracy seemed to have slightly conflicting principles. Capitalism at its heart is about freedom to chose and value exchange. Democracy is about collective decision making for the betterment of the whole where the majority rules. implicit in democracy is a loss of choice if you are the minority. These two competing principles are at the center of much strife in our society. how do we reconcile these?
I know next to nothing about most of these… but I see the opportunity!!!! I have the problem. It would be fun to work on the solution… but where to start?