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Platypus Innovation Blog

6 January 2020

My Ideas - Please take them!


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth. 
The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

Here are some company / project ideas I've had. Since I cannot develop these ideas properly, let me share them in the hope that they will inspire someone else. Free for use!
No guarantee is offered as to the quality of ideas, or their right to exist in an enlightened society.

I have a long backlog of these (I have a habit of emailing stray thoughts to myself). Kicking off with a random 3: electric cars, a group movie app, and a robot politician.

Random idea #81: Shared batteries for electric cars

Climate change needs to be tackled; you know this. OK: Car batteries. They take a while to charge. Even with a fast charger, the charging time makes for a frustrating stop -- and limits the throughput of the charging station.

Car batteries are heavy, e.g. one ton. You could not swap them in and out by hand! But a charging station could have a lift and trolley for that.

Checking Wikipedia, this is not a new idea: The concept of an exchangeable battery service was first proposed as early as 1896!

Benefits: Instant charge up. More scaleable infrastructure.

Random Idea #82: A poll app for group picking of what movie or TV show to watch

If you and a friend want to pick a  movie -- it's a pleasure. It may take a while to find one you both want to see, but the conversation is a pleasant one, touching on movies you loved and hated. However, as the number of people in the group grows, the process quickly becomes unwieldy, especially if done by email or chat. Part of the group gets all excited about one film, only to find that someone has already seen it.

This could be fixed with an app.

Basic features:
 - You can make a poll as easily as with Doodle, and people put in movie/TV ideas, and say yes/ok/no.

Excellent features would be:
 - Easy input and memory of your past watch history and want-to-watch list.
 - Links to trailers & reviews

Random Idea #83: Stand an open-source (& open data) robot candidate for election as MP

On the grounds of transparency, predictability, and better than so many of the humans who do stand.

Also, for interesting debates.

Legally fine -- it'd just need a human spokesperson to be the mouthpiece for the robot party. That person could dress Daft Punk style, or less weird -- just with a conspicuous earpiece connecting them to the AI.

Architecture?
A deep neural network (e.g. GPT2) for speech writing. You wouldn't get coherent consistent policies from it, but then, you don't get that from Boris Johnson either.
Decision making?
Could be GPT2 style question-answering -- i.e. its a language model being used to complete the answer to a question. This is flexible, but it lacks explicit semantics (i.e. it wouldn't know what its saying).
Train it on a set of good politicians (Mandela, Asquith, Gandhi, Churchill, etc) + neutral news (Wikipedia, BBC), and the outputs should be -- well bad, but comparable to many modern politicians.

To stand initially against the Prime Minister and Lord Buckethead.

Good-Loop Unit