The Machine of Minds

Humanity is vast network: we exchange thoughts and experiences. Each person has a unique mind, knowledge bank and perspective.

Provided we make an effort to explain our views and share or exchange it with the right person the sum of the pieces may far exceed that what any single person could come up with.

The success of this process depends on a few simple parameters. We must feel it is worth sharing the thought or we won't bother to vocalize it. If a suitable person is available at the right moment we will make the effort. If we are able to articulate the thoughts, we will attempt to do so.

Speaking our thoughts is a skill we further develop by practising it. The availability of others similarly depends on how we present our thoughts. We are naturally attracted by those who impress, surprise, inspire or comfort us depending on our own needs.

Compared to computers, the human mind has areas in which it's not very good but also has abilities that truly blow the mind (no pun intended) if one simply stops to think about it. Each person can have thoughts with a huge level of complexity and a massive amount of data involved. We tend not to be impressed by the thoughts of average men but this comes merely from comparison with other minds that may be even more sophisticated from one's perspective.

We dismiss other people's thoughts easily. It is through discouraging them from sharing them that their abilitty to express said thoughts decreases and as a result: people will be less likely to seek their further expression.

There is a war for your attention going on. Countless people seek it primarily to exploit you. This process is of limited usefulness as a whole, it contributes a bit towards sustaining humanity but compared to our true collective potential these collective thoughts are shallow and unimpressive.

Something that would appeal only to you would have to be highly specific and tailored to your very being. It is generally something in a field of your interest and zooms in on a sub set that inspires you more specifically. These thoughts range from the seemingly unimpressive and mundane to the scientifically sophisticated. A friend or family member may invite you to a birthday party, you will meet others whom you know which may force you to briefly perceive yourself the way they do. You may enjoy the interaction and chose to have more specific interactions with a sub set of party goers. Likewise, someone on the internet may chose to ask you something out of the blue or simply share their thoughts with you triggered by the impression you gave them.

I at one time bragged about having the best idea in the history of humanity. This very writing is yours truly answering to that rather absurd claim. I cant blame you for being skeptical about it, in fact, I'd argue it's a good thing. I too doubt your ability to objectively compare this idea with every other idea you can imagine. Many other ideas will, without a doubt, seem better to you personally, but this will be one in the most general sense, it lives in this realm where ideas with few exceptions are not very impressive.

We shall start by imagining a pool of ideas, imagine every idea ever fathomed by men carefully written down. The challenge is to refine this resource until we have a sub-set of items that are all good enough for each one of us to take notice of and deeply ponder. We shall choose how to progress and finally we will make things happen. Does this not sound like an impossible challenge? Thankfully, or ironically we already have most of the tools to accomplish this feat.

If I were to ask you to share an idea you would voluntarily sift through the thousands of thoughts you've had in your life down to just a single thought. If I were to ask you for a few ideas this process would become easier. You might have five good ideas each so different they can't be objectively compared.

We would ask a lot of people to propose ideas and subject them to an evaluation process sufficiently impressive it would attract other people who had what they feel are great ideas for which they failed to find the right audience.

With just these two ingredients we haven't accomplished to eliminate down to the greatest thoughts had by men but the good stuff is already heavily gravitating towards us.

Then there is our limited attention. If we could truly boil down from the whole set of every idea had by men and keep only the good stuff the end result would take to much time to take notice of. We would start at the beginning of the list and never make it half way.

This means we don't need to fully refine the resource, we only need enough good stuff to fill our attention span.

If we had a magic filter machine that we could feed our ideas into and have only the 10 best things come out the other end we could still imagine the ideas had by average men not being good enough to impress us. We should expect this to happen, especially at first. The number of people submitting ideas would be so small it doesn't represent true human potential.

We could imagine the brute force method to work: keep force-feeding the machine with more and more ideas until the 10 best are sufficiently impressive, however, this is not the answer to the riddle.

What we should aim to accomplish is to motivate people to put their thoughts into words. To have progress in the human network this is all we need. If we can collectively work to inspire just a single person to make the effort then we've already improved the network. They will produce that tiny bit of extra effort to seek the correct person and we will have the potential for one additional fruitful interaction in the history of humanity. It wouldn't be the grand prize and the result would be so small that we can't measure it. We can still tell ourselves that we did good.

“This is it?”, you wonder? Clearly I've failed to deliver the promised best idea of eternity. You can already think of a thousand reasons why the above can't work, why it won't work, how you envision it to fail. This is of course reasonable but I need to ask you for your positive effort. Some place in the back of your head you have the capability to perpetuate this seemingly raw idea. Your thoughts on how something should fail are simply not the best you have to offer.

Your expertise is based on what you know and what you've done. We all make the mistake to think those mental filters work just as well on everything we've never even tried. It requires a lot of experience to have things how we imagined unfold in alignment with the reality that follows.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Filtering down the large set of ideas down to those worthy of our attention is a fuzzy process. It can't be perfected nor does it need to be. There is no need for a magical machine. It needs only be good enough to encourage us to keep at it. Humanity excels at gradual improvement over the course of time. Eventually every flaw we can imagine can be honestly addressed and help improve the process.

Instead of a magical machine we can make a website with a dialogue box. This doesn't sound impressive at all but boy it involved a lot of work to make such a thing as easy as it is today.

In this dialogue box you can briefly describe your idea. Others might have used it before, but you are the one writing it down. Your description might not be perfect nor elegant but if there is a raw gem contained inside, it would hardly be the final word on the topic, to the contrary.

This is where we need others to look into it and do the first round of "judgment". Individually we are terrible at this but if a crude refinement process is repeated often enough then the bias in the review will diminish until it reaches a level shared by many.

At this level (tier 0) we have what I would call a “dumping ground” for ideas. Without a sufficient ratio of reviews vs ideas nothing useful will happen. We therefore ask the person submitting the idea to review a number of ideas. I think fifty is a good amount.

One by one ideas are presented to you, you divide them into positive and negative, you may flag them as spam or you skip them.

When the sum of positive and negative judgment reaches fifty you are to again look at them and divide them into exactly 25:25. As many good as bad judgments.

The things you've flagged as spam will be further evaluated. If your flagging is within reason your idea will be subjected to the same review process.

Firstly. it will be reviewed more frequently then the amount of reviews will gradually decline depending on how many others divided it into the good idea section. If it accumulates many positive reviews the idea will move to tier 2. If it doesn't it will simply be reviewed continuously. After 100 years it will be reviewed once per year. If the review is favourable it will be reviewed again after 6 months, then 3, then 45 days etc

You don't have to qualify your own idea by looking over 50 others, others may choose to review raw ideas not in tier 1 and bring it into the first judgment pool for you. It is however a good idea to put in the work you've expected from others.

Tier 2: If the idea was good enough to float to the top after the first round of judgment, its author is similarly asked to review 50 ideas from tier 2 and his idea is subjected to tier 2 scrutiny.

Each tier might also ask the author to tell us a bit more about the idea. While at first we desired it to be described in as few words as necessary we now want to know some more details about it.

The number of tiers depends on the amount of ideas needing review. If there are only 500 ideas in the pool tier 1 will already produce a top 10.

The best ideas gathered by the process will be open for further refinement. (their number depending on the number of participants.) Volunteers may sign up for it. People can donate their time, expertise and money for this process.

The goal here is to make the idea as presentable to the general public as possible. We will make a specific search engine in which one can submit web pages, published papers, books and other media.

A dedicated wiki is constructed where we can learn about the idea and everything it touches.

Video clips and images are gathered, a script is written and a short documentary is produced. Media outlets are invited to share the video with their readers as is.

Viewers are once again invited to donate their time, expertise and money only this time to help make the idea happen.

And that's about it!

I could talk at lengths about it. There could be topical portals where ideas are naturally more appealing to people, the idea refinement process could become more sophisticated, but it's the best idea in the history of humanity because it aims to expose and ideally progress your ideas. You might not think much of your own thoughts but I certainly do. You have a head full of thoughts not had by other people. Don t get hung up on the idea that your best effort is to compete with others. As long as people take notice of it and have thoughts based on your thoughts then they will grow. You don't have to observe and measure it, its guaranteed to happen.

Could you be so kind to help me build it? You could simply ask me to further elaborate. You could help me write the software.

Who knows, we might inspire those who are reluctant to share their genius and play part in making wonderful things.


Gaby de Wilde