17 TECHNOLOGIES THAT SHOULD HAVE DISAPPEARED BY NOW

1. Mouse and keyboard

2. Business Cards

3. Phone numbers

4. Login / Passwords

5. Wrist Watches

6. Booting up computers

7. Cable TV / TV “Channels”

8. Physical Switches

9. Credit Cards

10. Remote Controls

11. Physical Keys

12. Car dashboard with physical buttons

13. Postal Stamps

14. DVDs/Blurays

15. Paper Tickets

16. Lines for ordering something.

17. Calling customer service and providing personal information via speaking to them.

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Good Company

Good company is a group of people with a mission, with the following values and principles:

1. First and foremost it is formed to serve the humanity.

2.  Must not harm the society intentionally, by polluting environment, physical and mental health of people and animals.

3. Nurtures its employees professional as well as personal goals.

4. Must not exploit invasive psychological tactics to persuade people to buy their products.

5. Does not  take advantage of customer’s ignorance, lack of discipline or bad luck.

6. It understands that disruption is part of nature and plans accordingly to die out gracefully or form into another entity overtime.

7. It shows congruency in its actions throughout the organization in executing its principles.

8. It is organized in such a way that its primary shareholders greed is not translated into company decisions.

9. It does not seek to be a monopoly and understands the value of true competition. It stops its own growth at certain level and mentors other small companies to grow until they are healthy enough to compete and create real innovation in their field.

10. Must not seek public capital for operations that violate above principles.

These behaviors are better at helping society than giving charity by the CEOs and other member of the companies. Better company behavior helps society at a systemic level while the charities try to solve systemic level problems at symptom level.

Good Pain, Bad Pain

Pain comes in two varieties, Good and Bad. The bad news about pain is that its unavoidable. No matter how much you try to ignore it or run away from it, you will have to face it in your life sooner or later. It sounds pessimistic but thats the fact of Human Condition. The good news about pain is that you can choose your pain, and when you choose your pain wisely it has a positive effect on your life.

Pain is a signal that evolution has invented to give you information about your body and mind. It forces you to make a decision about it. It tells you to stop everything else you are doing and focus your physical and mental resources to reduce the pain. Sometime the signals are outdated, useless or even misleading because we are no longer living in the environment for which those signals were designed. Its the duty of your neocortex to take over the matter and decide whether to do something about the Pain information or ignore it. Its important to reinterpret the pain signals in the context of  our current biological and social environment.

Good Pain signal tells you that you are growing. Its usually immediate and last as long as the activity you are doing. Exercise give you immediate pain but it lasts only during the exercise. Pain of approaching someone with the fear of rejection lasts only when you are contemplating the approach. Pain of embarrassment and public humiliation only lasts as long as your public talk.

If you don’t choose the Good Pain, the default is the Bad Pain. Its the pain of Not Growing, Being Lonely, Being Invisible, Being Obese and sick. Its waiting for you if you fail to choose the Good Pain. It has a tendency to come slowly and unexpectedly. It will try to get you for the long haul.

So choose the Good Pain, embrace it and get all the benefits it has to offer. Also be aware that whenever you try to reduce the Good Pain, you know whats the alternative.

Discovering the Invisible

There are forces of nature that hide in plain sight. Newton discovered Gravity, a force of nature that is so pervasive to human experience that it took thousands of years for us to give it a name. How would a fish (perhaps intelligent one) detect the existence of water? How would it even begin to sense or question its existence ?  There are many such forces working in nature and society, even in our own psyche, that are shaping the reality and our own behavior.

Detecting such forces have great implications on our lives. It can cure deceases, discover new laws of nature, social biases, social injustice and discover new business opportunities. So, the question is, how would you discover an invisible force ? Is it simply luck or genius ? or is there a method to it ?

One important idea that I have discovered from different sources is this:  Look for anomalies in the system to detect the invisible.
There are always places where the invisible force is not acting as it should due to some accidental anomalies around or within it. When you detect such thing, you can sense its existence.

I asked the question on Quora.com, and this is the best answer I got:

“When something is ubiquitous, it is invisible. It takes an observation at the seams for ubiquity to unveil itself. Like cracks in glass, gravity in an elevator, or air underwater, it is the imperfections that get noticed and that are observable. Once we find something unusual at the seams, we can build experiments simulating those circumstances to investigate. When an investigation is complete, engineers can proceed to build utilities based on our discoveries.”

Social Impact of Self-Driving Cars

Self-Driving Cars is going to become reality sooner than you think. There has been incredible progress in the last 5 years in information technology , hardware and artificial intelligence that is advancing the research on self-dricing cars. Google and Stanford has demonstrated recently that its possible (with current technologies) to create a car that can detect real-time traffic in the cities and navigate it with speed and efficiency. Its only going to get better. Some US States are even preparing themselves with the social impact it will have in the future, for example Nevada passed law in 2011 that allows self-driving car to drive on its roads.

The impact of self-driving cars on the society will be huge. The magnitude of the impact could be as much as the invention of car itself. It will literally change to face of the earth, structure of our cities and our life-styles. Here is the incomplete list of benefits and changes that self-driving car will bring.

  1. You don’t have to drive car. You don’t need drivers license, so no more DMV lines.
  2. It will save time because you don’t have to drive the car everyday for commute.
  3. The car don’t need to be parked at one location, it can keep working after dropping you wherever you wanted to go,  So no more parking lots.
  4. Fewer parking lots means more parks,house and office space for people.
  5. No more worries to park your car
  6. Significantly less cars will be used because car utilization will increase due to heavy sharing.
  7. Driving jobs will disappear
  8. No more DUI
  9. Car theft will go significantly down because GPS is always enabled for the self-dirivng cars
  10. No Human caused accidents
  11. Deep integration of the internet with the transportation will happen
  12. Automated grocery shopping, shipping and food/goods delivery.
  13. Cost of transportation will be significantly less due to sharing and lack of car ownership
  14. No car insurance and maintenance required by the users due to the emergence of On-Deman Transportation As a Service (ODTAS) model.
  15. Car will be smaller and lighter because it will not need drivers seat and steering wheel and other driver related gears. This change will make cars more fuel efficient.
  16. Less Pollution
  17. Less Traffic. City’s traffic control system will become more efficient because it can see the state of the entire city by talking to all the cars that are running. It can divert the flow of cars before congestion occur due to accident or other reasons.
  18. More comfortable rides. The car will know when to gracefully slow down and speed up because it knows the map of the entire city at a very minute details. For example, it can remember in what area it experiences bumps and can slow down in those areas.
  19. No road rage. All cars will be driven by machines so no need to show aggression.
  20. By my rough estimate, 180 billion hours of time americans spend driving their car every year. These hours will become free to do basically anything. Entertainment, Reading, Work, Communication on the go.
  21. In car entertainment will mature to the level of in-home entertainment industry, because of more room and free time in the car.
  22. In car office model will pop up. Professionals that rely on heavy traveling will prefer their offices right in their car.

Case for Compassion

Humans take pride in solving problems.

Better products and better solutions mean a better life. Intelligence is considered the fuel that propels humanity forward. After all intelligence is what makes us different from other animals. If you are not intelligent (and that includes creativity) you will be considered a failure.

Why is our society obsessed with intelligence?

It creates science and technology which is used to amplify our human emotions, whether positive or negative. Progress, fueled by intelligence as a single driving force only, is like driving a car without GPS. There is no guidance system that will take humanity to a better place.  Just having better and faster iPads and HDTVs will not help humanity.

Our human mind is capable of more than just intelligent problem solving. It has a capacity to feel empathy (driven by mirror neurons) for other living things around it. Compassion is the untapped potential of the human mind that can be effectively used to solve our problems. Our world is plagued with problems that can not be solved by intelligence alone.

We need more compassion in this world.

I would like to imagine a different world. A world where we give as much importance to compassion as we do to  intelligence. How would that world look like ? Lets imagine it together.

In this world, compassion is considered a skill that can be developed similar to our analytical skills.

Compassion Quotient (CQ) will be invented to quantify the level of compassion in an individual. Psychology departments would create better and accurate ways to quantify and improve compassion.

When a new baby is born, parents will make their babies more compassionate by showing them pictures of compassionate people and telling them stories that will inspire kindness. Parents would become more curious and excited to find out their  children’s CQs.

Parents will purchase “Baby Dalai Lama” toys along with “Baby Einstein” toys for their kids.

Schools will test their students on compassion and report to parents if they find a low CQ.

Financial sectors will update their rating systems and rate companies on their compassion, socially responsible business practices and profitability.

Compassion Deficiency Syndrome (CDS) will be treated just like other disorders that affects people’s lives, such as  alcoholism or depression. Patients will enroll into CD clinics to improve their compassion levels.

It is time for us to take compassion seriously in every aspect of our lives. We want to free it from the shackles of religion and view it as a necessary human skill. Let’s do it together and start now, compassionately.

News Diet

24 hour news channels , daily newspapers, magazines, radio, online news portals, News are everywhere and trying to grab your attention for reasons not really aligned with your personal goals. The news it seems have lost its true value and have reached the level of merely a form of entertainment.  So I decided to stop watching, reading or listening to news from all sources. I went on a News diet. Its been two months and I feel great.  I can’t quantify the benefits of stopping the news poison entering my brain but i am sure its significant. Its a big positive subjective experience. Following reasons made me decide to do it.

Tribal Mind

Our mind is evolved to live in tribes, usually the size of 150 people.  It means, we are capable of understanding the world events in the scale and context of merely 150 people. For thousands of years people were living in tribes. They were affecting each others lives directly.   In tribes, when a new baby is born , you would know its time for celebration and share some responsibility.  When a person is killed by a wild animal or some decease, you understand that its time to be cautious and alert. All the events in the tribe affected the members of the tribe directly. Over the course of millions of years of human history our brains have been tuned to the social opportunities and threats presented by groups of 150 or so.

Mark Pagel, professor of evolutionary biology have written this in a recent article:

In the past, my assessment of the risk of being blown up by a terrorist, or of getting swine flu was calculated from the steady input of information I would have received mainly from my small local group–because these were the people I spoke to or heard from, and these were the people whose actions affected me.

What the internet does, and what mass communication does more generally, is to sample those inputs from the 6.8 billion people on Earth. But my brain is still considering that these inputs have arisen from my local community, because that is the case its assessment circuits were built for,  My brain assumes a small denominator and therefore the answer to the question of how likely something is to happen is too big.

Attention Cost

Attention is a limited resource your mind produces everyday after a good sleep.  It makes sense to use it wisely on things that would help you reach your goals.  You as a part of an enormous economic engine see or listen to 3000 t0 4000 advertisements daily. This level of information exposure brings daily stress. The advertisements are so sneaky and clever that its almost impossible to avoid them completely.We can however control News consumption.

Opportunity Cost

Time more spend on engaging with News is time less spent on your important tasks. News not only waste time when you are actively engaged with it, but later you use it to ruminate about it through out the day. It acts as an attention vampire which will make you less effective in other things.

News intake has become so wide spread and pandemic that its considered a routine activity and something that we should not worry about or even question.  I often hear arguments from people that News diet will  make them disconnected from the world and it will deplete their world knowledge and reduce them from a rank of a well informed citizen.  In my opinion, paying more attention to your local groups and your life is more important than some riot happening 3000 miles from your home.  Understanding the world requires a special kind of attention that we can only cultivate by stopping the daily noise and reflecting only on significant events that has something to add to the thousands of years of human history. What I have written here is certainly a nightmare for the News moguls whos bank balance feeds on your attention.  Stop the news and see how it improves your life.