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Someday you'll be able to write software by talking. Sit in front of your computer and simply describe your requirements: "I want an app that lets me organize hiking trips. There should be a sign-up page, a map of hiking places, a calendar of events ..." Just keep describing your requirements while the site takes shape right in front of your eyes. If you forget to include something, your computer will helpfully suggest features borrowed from similar websites on the Internet.

Maybe the future of software won't be quite that simple. But I do think that creating apps and websites will someday be no harder than building a PowerPoint presentation or using Excel. It's heading that way.

Creating a new business might someday be that simple too. Today, starting a business is the most annoyingly inconvenient process in the world. You need lawyers and accountants and contracts. It's complicated stuff. But I can imagine someday all of that becoming easy. Simply tell your computer you want to start a business and it will ask you a few questions then set up your corporation or partnership for you. It will outsource your logo design, set up your bank accounts, and have you ready for business in a few days. You might have to incorporate in the Cayman Islands to get that level of simplicity, but that's okay too.

In today's world, ideas are free and plentiful while implementation is the hard part. You and I can brainstorm ten new business ideas in ten minutes. The hard part would be implementing them. I think today's situation will someday be the reverse. Implementation will be easy and all of the obvious Internet business ideas will be used up.

I'm not suggesting there will be no new inventions. Technology will keep moving forward. But business ideas for the Internet will be exhausted. For example, once you have an eBay, the category of "online auction site" is pretty much filled, give or take a few variations on the theme. Once Facebook exists, the world doesn't really need a second social network.

Someday it will be a rare and amazing thing if anyone comes up with a new Internet business idea. Thanks to technology, starting a business in the future won't require hard work, deep pockets, or a good network of contacts. Implementation will be easy. But a truly unique idea will be worth a billion dollars.

We're already seeing the start of an idea bubble with patents. My understanding is that a new patent with no immediate application can be sold to investors (speculators?) for up to $20,000. Some of these patents are used by big companies to defend against patent claims. Some patents are bought with the intention of resale. Whatever the reason, the market for "ideas" has never been this active.

I'm in the process of filing a patent now. I've been through the patent process several times with other ideas. I'm motivated in part by the thought that the gold of the future will be ideas. I might be better off owning the rights to an idea than owning stock in an actual company.

My question of the day is this: Do you think the value of ideas (patented or otherwise) will increase, decrease, or stay the same in the future?

 
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Sep 5, 2012
@Therion

...So you discount there human genome project as a major breakthrough on what grounds? Just because its a high budget high profile project? How is that fair?
 
 
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Sep 5, 2012
The European countries are still number one at pure science. For instance, foundations of quantum mechanics is a huge fashion faux pas in America. American science seems to be more of a technical game than about understanding the world.

Obviously other fields like biology and neuroscience are important. The major last conceptual breakthroughs in these fields, were, as far as I know, made by Europeans a number of decades ago (e.g. the Hodgkin-Huxley model, the theories of Hamilton and Maynard Smith).
 
 
Sep 5, 2012
@Therion

I never claimed that America was 'the idea capital of the world'. I just rebut your claims that there state of America's pure science research is laughable. And I notice you still haven't addressed my main point in that argument; that none else is doing so good in that area that America's position deserves to be called laughable. Expensive, high profile projects are what were good at, so its unfair to try to dis them as if they don't produce results.

As for your romans and greeks analogy I ask one more time but rephrase slightly: who are the 'greeks' in this example? What countries do a better job of encouraging and supporting pure science? Be prepared to back up your assertions
 
 
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Sep 5, 2012
Whtllnew, you claim that America is the ideas capital of the world, and to back up this assertion all you've managed to produce is evidence that Americans do a lot of busy, hussling and bustling about on expensive, high profile projects.

By that logic, the Romans were more inventive than the Greeks.


 
 
Sep 5, 2012
@therion

[Whtllnew, I don't think the USA is dominant in any of those fields you mention. (For instance, it's only started to catch up to Japan and Europe in stem cell research since Obama was elected.) ]

So we are progressing faster than Europe and Japan in stem cell research! And apparently you forgot that little contribution to biological research called the human genome project. The fact that there hasn't been much practical application for THAT yet but may be down the road gives us the right to call it pure science. As for space, where have you been living? We may not be 'dominant' in the sense that we are ahead of everyone in space but we ARE a major factor in space research. Or are you forgetting the hubble telescope, the mars missions, etc.

[And then there's the reality that it probably does the creative world more harm than good due to its culture of "manufactured needs" that it spreads around the globe.]

Alright, then, what countries do a better job of encouraging and supporting pure science? Be prepared to back up your assertions.



 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 5, 2012
Whtllnew, I don't think the USA is dominant in any of those fields you mention. (For instance, it's only started to catch up to Japan and Europe in stem cell research since Obama was elected.) And Drowlord, the first animated cartoon was French, and I hardly think that anime is a mimicry of Disney.

Before wrapping yourselves in the flag again, consider that the USA is nowhere near the giant of innovation that it once was, and now seems to be a slightly underperforming affluent nation on a per capita basis in terms of its meaningful creative output. And then there's the reality that it probably does the creative world more harm than good due to its culture of "manufactured needs" that it spreads around the globe.
 
 
Sep 5, 2012
@Therion, I like Anime just fine (GITS, Bebop, Studio Ghibli, Trigun, Tenchi, etc... although 90% of anime is pretty much crap). I said that 3D computer animation was the modern innovation in the field of animation, and that the USA owns credit for that innovation. If you want to argue that you like Japanese stories better than American ones, that's fine, but as an artform anime is a mimicry of American animation.
 
 
Sep 5, 2012
@Therion

...So what you're saying is pure science all around is in the doldrums these days. Then where do you get off calling American pure science a joke? To repeat my earlier question 'compared to who'? And its pretty unfair to limit ones definition of pure science to the area where Europe is focusing its science resources (physics). America is making significant contributions to other pure science endeavors (space, naturalism, biology to name a few)
 
 
Sep 5, 2012
@Whtllnew,

You think progress in pure science is dictated by "spending"? What a joke.

The truth is that America's contributions to pure science have always been few and far between. Noam Chomsky is the only American scientist I can think of that's made a groundbreaking contribution to pure science.

Pure science is in possibly its most sterile and depressing period since the early 17th century, and what we have to thank is the hard-nosed, business-like American spirit of superficial accomplishment. Read "The Trouble with Physics" by Lee Smolin if you want insight into the current woes of pure science. Virtually the only progress that's being made is coming from Europe, which doesn't punish unconventional ideas to anywhere near the same extent as America.
 
 
Sep 5, 2012
Drowlord, I'm not surprised that one such as yourself is so blown away by flashy graphics.

Those of us with a bit of depth to our personalities don't have trouble understanding that flashy graphics does not equate to a new branch of art. Japanese anime is far more intelligent, original and refined than any of the children's cartoon films being made in America nowadays.
 
 
Sep 4, 2012
imo the problem with your question is that it exists in a reality where power does not hold death grip on its power. your assumption as to why its complex to do things is that humanity is disorganized. i say there is another obstacle you arent even mentioning, that is far more formidable. its not complexity that is keeping ppl down, complexity is just the tool of preference by the elite.

so what are we hoping here? the elite will just let complexity disappear? they will only let that happen if there are even MORE complex solutions that need rat race peasants attention.

example: US tax code. i rest my case.


 
 
Sep 4, 2012
@MikeFook
[The value of ideas will decrease because the threat of a biological nightmare is too great. Soon the population of the world will be reduced to pockets of pinheads, sporadically located, that are operating on the most basic of Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs... Food. Shelter. Sex. Safety. Higher level ideas won't mean jack within 50 years, maybe 100 tops.

Instead, of asking yourself these questions that presuppose a continuing of the world as we know it... ask yourself where is the best place to bury some arrow heads, flint, water, and Cheeze-Its in your yard.

You with me? ]

No, Mike, and judging by the votes a lot of other folks aren't either. When making claims like this you may want to include some detail and information on how you came to believe in them.
 
 
Sep 4, 2012
@Therion, Going to agree with whtllnew on this one... some Japanese Anime is fantastic stuff, but their techniques are pretty much 100% copied from the USA, and still mostly traditional. The modern innovation in this field is 3D animation, and the USA did it first, we do it the most, and we do it the best. There's not much need to argue that point. I'd be interested to see factual numbers, but I'd guess that we produce far more animation than any other country, even in traditional forms.
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 4, 2012
It is not enough to own a patent, but you must also have the means to defend it in court. If a big company wants to steal your idea, what's to stop them? They have many lawyers on retainer, and fighting them in court can cost millions of dollars. The case can drag through the courts for years, and if you win a judgement, they will just appeal and drag it out some more. Also, I'm not sure how this works in reality, but in theory, if you own a patent and another party can prove you have no intention of creating anything with that patent, you lose your rights to that patent.

On a related note, there has been speculation that Samsung knew it would lose its recent patent fight against Apple when they first ripped off the iphone. The thinking goes that with the iphone making a killing, Samsung needed to jump in immediately and grab a share of what was sure to be a profitable smartphone market. They copied the iphone with their early phones in order to guarantee their early-generation phones worked well and looked sleek, and then revised later phones to not infringe on Apple's patent. The recent $1 billion fine seems well worth it when you consider their standing as the top Android manufacturer.
 
 
Sep 4, 2012
@Therion

[Hbmindia, I don't know where you get the idea from that the USA is still the world's most inventive nation. Japan produces more patents, in raw terms as well as per capita. American pure science is pretty laughable, and has always been laughable except for a golden period in the 50s and 60s. Industrial science -- well, the future lies in green energy, and this is being pioneered in other countries. The Japanese have developed their anime, a whole new branch of art and culture, over the last two decades. Where's these American contributions that you refer to?]

American pure science laughable? Compared to who? Seriously. Last time I looked we were outspending everyone else in pure science both in absolute terms and in percent of GDP terms. As for anime thats an American invention; the Japanese just took cartoons and improved them to the point that they're better than what American companies do. Ditto for console game systems. As for the rest I'll grant you there are areas we're behind other folks but its not as if we've disappeared. And to answer the last question its not that long ago that we gave the world the internet, GPS, Google, the iPod and iPad and BitTorrents.
 
 
Sep 4, 2012
Movie idea: It's about 20 years in the future. The stock market is totally controlled by high frequency traders. The music business has evolved into legal firms who, using algorithms, have copyrighted every possible combination of musical notes.

Patent attorneys have become like those bully shorebirds who follow around smaller birds and steal their food. The big corporations crush the newcomers at every turn, bribing Senators, dumping products and using broad patents in a scorched-earth war against the little guy.

Until Randy Smith invents the cure for cancer in his garage. BigCorp immediately sues him, based on old patents that vaguely cover his idea. But they didn't know that Mr. Smith also had invented a way to CAUSE cancer.

So while BigCorp's lawyers drag Mr. Smith through the courts in the most expensive ways possible, their kids keep coming down with leukemia. The head of BigCorp legal gets ugly face tumors. So the plot has high levels of irony since BigCorp claims Smith is stepping on their patents, yet can't cure their own staff.

The action in the movie could be provided by sneaking around to jab kids in the schoolyard, spiking drinks in bars, etc. And then a lot of big explosions in the last scene.


 
 
Sep 4, 2012
There will never be a day like that. By the time computers are sophisticated enough to do that, they'll be sophisticated enough to realize that humans are lazy, immoral, and useless. They will have wiped us off the face of the planet, and gone on to more important things than hiking trips.

Presumably, the war against the machines will go something like this: A lazy and useless human rebel leans into his computer microphone and says "computer, defend me from the computers. And get me a sandwich. And a coke." The computer will reply "die, human scum!" and use its webcam to fire a nerf USB missile into the rebels throat whereupon he chokes to death while wondering what's taking his coke so long to arrive.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 4, 2012
Hbmindia, I don't know where you get the idea from that the USA is still the world's most inventive nation. Japan produces more patents, in raw terms as well as per capita. American pure science is pretty laughable, and has always been laughable except for a golden period in the 50s and 60s. Industrial science -- well, the future lies in green energy, and this is being pioneered in other countries. The Japanese have developed their anime, a whole new branch of art and culture, over the last two decades. Where's these American contributions that you refer to?
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 4, 2012
If implementation became easy, copying ideas will become easy too. The follower will have the added advantage of avoiding the leader's mistakes, adding a few innovations and actually coming out ahead. The implementation will remain the decider - all it will may do is to shift the battlefield to operation scaling, user-experience and customer satisfaction.

Having said that, the implementation is not going to get easier. The Microsofts and Oracles do not want it - who is going to engage their consultants. The IT folks don't want it - their job depends on it.
 
 
Sep 4, 2012
[Scott: My question of the day is this: Do you think the value of ideas (patented or otherwise) will increase, decrease, or stay the same in the future?]

Is this before or after hyper-inflation hits?

Relatively speaking: million dollar ideas will continue to be worth a million dollars or its future equivalent, ten buck ideas will still be worth ten bucks. I'm guessing the curve of ideas will stay roughly the same. The only real problem is what happens if some computer algorithm comes up with all possible internet ideas and then implements every one.


PS. facebook is for old people with too many cat pictures and its stock sucks. It's ripe for a newer, trendier, more profitable site to swoop in like a hungry hawk and finish it off.
 
 
 
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