Mostly Harmless Can entropy be reversed? 2014-04-03T23:35:56Z http://robrhinehart.com/?feed=atom WordPress rob <![CDATA[Soylent Announces New Line of GMKs]]> http://robrhinehart.com/?p=1101 2014-04-03T23:35:56Z 2014-04-01T18:04:03Z Soylent Announces New Line of GMKs
It gives me great pleasure to announce the first public release from Soylent X, our research arm focused on “solving the unsolvable”. After solving physical health with Soylent, we sought to tackle the elephant in the room of America’s healthcare system: mental health. Americans suffer from the highest levels of anxiety in the world. Research […]]]>
Soylent Announces New Line of GMKs

It gives me great pleasure to announce the first public release from Soylent X, our research arm focused on “solving the unsolvable”. After solving physical health with Soylent, we sought to tackle the elephant in the room of America’s healthcare system: mental health. Americans suffer from the highest levels of anxiety in the world. Research shows we’re lonely, stressed, overworked, and underpaid. While problematic overall, I find the gist of this trend encouraging. Work is the lifeblood of a thriving economy. Work has given us space shuttles, particle accelerators, and a booming finance industry. Work is the noblest of man’s pursuits, and just as violence has declined, economies have grown, and life has lengthened, I believe workdays will continue to get longer.

If only we could relax more efficiently, we could work more, and better, and be happier. Research shows people spend their free time with family or friends, wasting time and money at expensive parties, restaurants, and bars. These same people report relationships as a primary source of stress. Therein lies the problem. People are vexing. You are more likely to be murdered by a lover than a stranger. Gossip is ubiquitous and no one can be trusted.  The way we relax is only adding to our anxiety.

The solution? Cats.

Humans are social animals. We need to be needed, yet today demand a high level of convenience, ruling out the emotional distress of dealing with other humans. Originally incorporated in to society as useful vermin hunters, house cats have since been cultivated as baby replacements. It took centuries to domesticate feral cats in to playful, personal felines. To do so we had to rely on primitive techniques such as artificial selection and cross-breeding. New strains have been periodically introduced in order to provide consumers with greater selection, and today genetic engineering and synthetic growth lines allows for greater control, efficiency, and sustainability. This is why we are expanding our business to offer the world’s first Genetically Modified Kittens (GMKs).

The timing and the technology are perfectly aligned. The pet industry is growing rapidly, and is divided among thousands of local, independent, brick-and-mortar stores. Cats are the most popular pet in the world. A higher degree of customer service, control, efficiency, and sustainability is poised to disrupt a fragmented, entrenched industry. The explosion in 3D printing and hacking has made it clear that personalization and customization is the future of manufacturing. Furthermore, synthetic biology and tissue engineering technology have not only made the genome rewriteable, but embryos producible without the unpredictability and cost of a natural medium.

Our beautifully well-designed web site offers an intuitive interface to allow customization of nearly every aspect of your feline. You may even code one from scratch if you’d like and upload a CSV of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). Options include:

Physical Characteristics

Hair Color
Eye Color
Ear Length
Mass
Solubility

Personality

Sanguine <> Truculent
Curious <> Oblivious
Pensive <> Negligent
Progressive <> Conservative
Astute <> Obtuse

For the “kitten connoisseur” our premium service also offers clones of celebrity cats. Note that these remarkably skilled felines, famous in their own right, could be a serious asset and should be seen as an investment.

Grumpy Cat – $15,000
Lil Bub – $50,000
Maru
Keyboard Cat – Call for Pricing

Our companion product, “Soylent for Cats” is another innovation and a massive improvement over the status quo of feline nutrition. Perfectly balanced and optimized for the needs of your cat, Soylent for Cats is a genetically engineered mouse which has the precise nutritional balance needed by your cat. It also has no bones.

Soylent for Cats is designed to be completely absorbed by your animal’s bloodstream, obviating the need for defecation and smelly litter boxes. Your cat will still pee. More than normal actually. But, thanks to a clever transgenic modification, it will smell like lavender.

Do not feed a natural cat with Soylent for Cats.

Customer service is our top priority for our GMK line. If you are unsatisfied with your kitten for any reason you may ship it back for recycling. GMKs come neutered and immunized, and arrive, beautifully packaged, in a chemical-induced coma. It may be a bit groggy for a few days but don’t worry, it will wear off, and testing shows it’s adorable to watch them stumble around.

  • Abnormal blood pH
  • Weak immune system
  • Banana rather than lavender-scented urine
  • Insatiable desire for human flesh

These will be fixed by the final release. I would also like to point out that the controversial paper published recently in Journal of Housecat Toxicology deliberately used the media to sensationalize bad science. The statistical methods were amateur at best and deliberately misleading at worst. The paper has since been removed by the editors. GMKs are completely safe and due to genetic engineering are far healthier and robust than naturally occurring cats, especially when fed exclusively with Soylent for Cats.

Cats are an excellent investment in social capital. Users have reported a 38% increase in social media likes and shares after incorporating cats into statuses and photos. Unlike friends, cats will not talk about themselves, ask you to pick them up from the airport, or analyze your facial expressions. However, they will eat you if you die in their presence.

The despondency industry in America is growing 7% year over year, and has not seen innovation in centuries. It is time for disruption. By providing a superior, customizable product over natural cats at a lower cost, Soylent Corporation is positioned to take a lion’s share of a fragmented market. According to our projections, the synthetic companion market segment is due to grow by playful leaps and bounds thanks to innovations in the underlying biotechnology of dependency. The future is meow.

pre-order here

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rob <![CDATA[Platonic Payments]]> http://robrhinehart.com/?p=1091 2014-03-03T19:04:53Z 2014-03-03T19:04:53Z Platonic Payments
Paying is strange. Consider the following exchange:         Me: Hello unfamiliar person. I would like to give you some fiat currency in exchange for the goods and / or services you provide.         Clerk: Splendid! Let me just whip out this large, obnoxiously bright, unwieldy machine and get the banks involved in our newfound relationship.         Me: That […]]]>
Platonic Payments

Paying is strange. Consider the following exchange:

        Me: Hello unfamiliar person. I would like to give you some fiat currency in exchange for the goods and / or services you provide.

        Clerk: Splendid! Let me just whip out this large, obnoxiously bright, unwieldy machine and get the banks involved in our newfound relationship.

        Me: That sounds reasonable. Surely Jamie Dimon did not make enough money last fiscal year and deserves a cut of your vanishingly low margin retail business. Please take this cold, hard, magnetized piece of plastic. The design reflects my personality and pecuniary worth.

        Clerk: I am obliged to thank you for handing me this trinket. Allow me to swipe it, the same way humans have read information off of cards for decades. You will also be required to sign a piece of paper because I honestly believe you may call your bank and vehemently deny purchasing this cup of black coffee.

        Me: Perfectly understandable. I love the feeling of generating potential evidence for a court case every time I want to buy something. I also demand a paper record of this transaction because I do my taxes with a quill pen and slide rule.

        Clerk: Yes quite common. Well, have a wonderful day, stranger I have interacted with but not touched. This large, black, computerized point of sale system symbolizes the technology-driven separation that grows between humans even when we interact in pers..

        Next Customer: Hello unfamiliar person!

Paying isn’t too hard. Swiping plastic takes seconds. It’s just too weird. Here I propose the way I would prefer to pay, optimized for low friction and high humanity.

The handshake, like currency, has been around for millennia as a symbol of trust. Unlike currency though, the handshake requires no additional hardware, central banking system, or card. It does not allow for a precise and safe transference of wealth, but it could, with a little help from our friend the bitcoin.

This is an idea I call “platonic payments”. 

To accept payments you wear a watch, or ideally it is integrated in to an existing watch like the Pebble. To pay you wear a ring, which contains a short-range rewritable RFID tag storing a single bitcoin address. The payee specifies the amount with two dials on the watch, one for dollars, one for cents. Both parties then shake hands, bringing the RFID ring within reading range of the detector, which uses the information to charge the payer’s bitcoin wallet. No fees. No slow hardware exchange. No cold plastic or large, expensive POS systems blaring light in an otherwise relaxing environment. I also think service establishments should just charge 20% tip by default.

Bitcoin addresses are nearly infinite and can be created, online or off, and disposed of at will. Thus an NFC chip in a smartphone could passively rewrite the tag with a fresh address every time you pick up your phone. The merchant software, either run on the watch or connected to a smartphone, would request the appropriate amount from the user’s bitcoin wallet with the public key. This is not built in to the bitcoin protocol but could be managed by a service like Coinbase, which could then verify the account is valid and securely transfer the private key.

This does face the problem of a change by both parties. However, if it started being built in to smartwatches and all users had to do was buy a cheap, stylish ring that barrier may lower. A payment method that didn’t force me to take anything out of my pockets or even carry a wallet, while increasing the humanity of a transaction sounds like a dream come true. I would even get my tag implanted so I wouldn’t have to wear the ring.

The other problem is the system still involves trust. Someone could skim your ring, grab the address, and post a request if they got close enough. Since each transaction involves a new address the hacker could only make one request, but it could be big. This could additionally be mitigated by only allowing transactions of a certain size or only keeping a small amount of money in this wallet, making skimming uneconomical.

Alternatively, Coinbase could ask the user to verify the transactions they made after the fact, but this would allow the payer to deny legitimate transactions. And that, is something I would love to test. If you knew you would get away with it, would you rob someone after shaking their hand?

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