You know lots of stuff and you want to start your own thing. But how do you find a new idea? How do you know if it’s worth pursuing?
Are there any guidelines that you can follow to find new ideas?
Yes! There is! I have prepared a guideline, that will help you find an idea that could benefit the world.
Think about it like this: You are a member of a tribe. What would you do so that the tribe will benefit from your work?
How will the tribe remember and commemorate you?
The answer to these questions can be found by following the 4 steps that you will find at the end of the article.
But before checking the steps, here are 3 categories that cover the most important global mega-trends. Each of these categories further includes 11 topics.
1. Society & Community
Disruption and Education
Education systems are not keeping up with the technological evolution. The supply of experts is not keeping up with the demand. It is expected that the gap of expertise to grow. Lifelong learning will become a human need. The demand for new skills, demographic changes, and transforming culture will make continuous learning a must by 2040.
Social Networks Should Become Democratic Communities in Order to Thrive
The boundaries of what is publicly acceptable, what is monetizable, and what is allowed are defined by social network operators unilaterally, often without too much regard or consideration of the user's rights and expectations. Cryptography, distributed ledgers, and custodial data ownership hold the key to putting the "Community Standards" back into the hands of the community.
Cyber-Addiction and Virtual Lock-In
Cyber-addiction (excessive use of digital devices and services) has become a leading cause of depression and anxiety.
Parents, Children, and Technology
Parents allow children to be overexposed to technology unsupervised, which leads to cognitive impairment and social anxiety.
The Fake News Pandemic
Regular users have little incentive to validate or fact-check information before sharing it, thus contributing to the greatest pandemic of disinformation.
The Growing Skill Gap
While technology has the potential to benefit society, it can also cause a split between those with access to this transformation and those without. How can we use technology to blur the lines between learning and working, in a manner that is both productive and considerate for the psychological needs of the individual?
Redesign Digital Courtship Around Durable Values
The dating culture, promoted by Tinder and Match.com, visibly erodes the relationships and people’s self-confidence, for the simple aim of "maximizing engagement". How would you redesign the matchmaking process from the ground up, to account for safety, security, consent, and transparency-of-intention? There is also a problem with the quality of relationships since these dating platforms make people feel that there is always something better out there.
The First Film Written and Created by AI and CGI Will Win an Oscar
In the age where deep fakes, CGI, and AI continually blur the line between fantasy and reality. What will the movie of the future look like? Will it be a collaborative experience? Or a collective choice, driven by the crowd, directed by the machine?
In the Modern City, Citizens Are the Architects
As urban planning meets increasing challenges and complexities, city managers and citizens will have to collaborate using technology.
Health & Diet Awareness Is Deteriorating Due to Digital Misinformation
Anti-vaxxer disinformation and conspiracy theories, driven by the quest for clicks and ad-dollars, are recklessly causing people to stop seeking help, vaccination, or professional help. How can we use technology to reinvent the way we seek and accept help for health and dieting?
As more work moves into remote working and flexible hours, people will feel the need to be around people. This will mean either coworking spaces inside the companies or coworking spaces for anybody. How can you contribute to the future of coworking?
2. Environment & Sustainability
Increase Environmental Impact Transparency of Everyday Actions
It gets more and more important to educate the world on how certain items or actions affect the environment. The businesses that create those products have no incentive to show that, so it’s up to the people. How can you show the world how certain products or actions affect the environment?
Individual Accountability for Shipping
Customers should be able to specify whether the shipping & routing of a particular (physical) package should be optimized:
for lowest wait time (and higher cost and environmental impact)
for lowest environmental impact (and higher wait time)
for the lowest end-to-end cost (and higher wait time).
This would make each individual user accountable for the environmental impact of their day-to-day actions.
With climate transformation affecting crop yield and with food demand continually growing, we will have to put technology to use in order to redesign agriculture from the ground up for more efficiency, less environmental impact, and resilience to more unpredictable weather.
Root Cause Analysis: Urban Pollution
Big cities are disrupted by increasing levels of pollution. While tracking the average level of pollution is a done deal, we still have to innovate in order to track down the causes and the processes behind such pollution. We have to upgrade "guesswork" into "lab work".
Should You Eat That?
We always take and upload pictures of our food on social networks, but we never get back any useful advice or actionable information on how to eat better, more healthy, or for reducing food waste. Can you design a digital companion that helps you keep track of what you buy, what you order, what you eat, and what you throw away?
Decentralized Rewards for Reducing Food Waste Through Sharing
Food waste is one of the biggest topics that need to be addressed in the future. There is a lot of food that goes to waste that could benefit other people.
Support Local-Centric Supply Chain
It’s important to support local businesses. That means you can either shop from local businesses or find local suppliers for your business.
Encourage Against Fast-Fashion Retailers
By providing positive examples through upcycling and repurposing garments.
By repurposing the components to something else; by teaching people about technology using old components.
Increase the Planned Obsolescence Cycles
Especially regarding mobile devices that seem to have a 2 years lifetime.
As the sea levels keep rising and the climate keeps changing, there will be cities that could get underwater and areas that are not fit for agriculture anymore.
3. Business & Technology
Break the Monopolies of Centralization
Outdated commercial and social practices assume that the business providing the service also has unmediated access to all the data and all the code. This creates both an immense information disequilibrium between consumers and small businesses, and large enterprises and corporations. There is also the "moral hazard" for businesses to overuse or misuse aggregate data, with intention or even unintentionally, to target, discriminate and manipulate customers into informationally unfair choices. How will you use existing technology to break the monopoly of centralized data processing?
Expand the Coverage of the Productive Digital Economy
Despite having access to the Internet, many citizens do not know how they can gain skills of economic value using Internet services. How can you change that?
Decentralizing Digital Trust
The trust in the digital world should not have to depend on any central authority like a central identity provider (Facebook, Google), a central payment processor (Paypal), and so on.
Fighting Digital Illiteracy
By 2050, not being able to write code or understand the programming principles behind it will be economically equivalent to literal illiteracy. Yet, business is simultaneously convincing citizens that "you should expect technology to be easy" while realizing the increasing deficit of trained IT professionals.
Redesigning Currency to Capture the New Value of the Anthropocene
Regardless of the form and method (fiat, democratic, or algorithmic), we cannot afford to allow individual transactions to only capture subjective value. In order to make our economy more transparent and more capable to tackle global challenges, we need to design new currencies, which combine the supply chain visibility, human and environmental impact with the value they capture.
Reduce Bias in International Screening & Recruitment Processes
Cultural biases or even unconscious biases often manifest as hidden opportunities for discrimination based on age, gender, race, visual characteristics, or inferred sexual preferences. Can deep fake be transformed into a force for the good? Or is privacy an alternative?
Excessive Targeting in Commercial Communications
The targeting of advertising creates "bubbles" of information and perception, effectively contributing to the fragmentation of human communication.
Linear Text, Linear Charts, and Linear Conversations Are 500 Years Old
They no longer make sense. With human communication increasingly depending on the mobile device in the 2020s, the conversational experience needs to be redesigned to achieve its objectives:
event structured conversation, using a virtual in-conversation assistant that facilitates decision making, context coherence, and data lookup.
reducing the bandwidth limitation of the conventional keyboard, by integrating pictograms, emoticons, labels, the relationships between them, and the relevance for the accepted.
audio and video formats.
Journalism for the Digital Age
While selfishly believing in the mantra that information is free, we let journalism and media morally bankrupt themselves, by chasing clicks and ad-dollars, instead of pursuing truth, trust, coherence, and public service. How can we redesign a system that guarantees trust, while making users pay for speed and rewarding them for contributing to validation and debunking misinformation?
Redesign the Product Label to Support the Supply Chain of the 21st Century
In the past, labels could only be stuck onto the product physically. Now we only need to print out a QR code that acts as a pointer/reference to information about the product, how it was shipped, and how it was made. This modern label also acts as a context indicator for customer concerns or public health risks. Such a monumental project would definitely require a lot of retrofitting. What innovative methods can you identify for machine learning and vision in order to help us with the transition from conventional labels to smart labels?
Digital Audit as a Service
As we depend more and more on technologies deployed in-house or in the cloud, it becomes harder and harder to know who to trust. How can you use cryptography in order to separate or allow the publication of the work’s quality check, as measured by a multitude of third-party suppliers?
Now, you probably remember I mentioned a guideline. In order to have it complete, you need to follow the steps below:
Step 1: Pick 3 topics from the categories above. Choose only 1 topic/category.
Step 2: Think about how your insight, knowledge, and curiosity can help you build a solution to the problem described by the items you picked.
Step 3: If you like the idea, start doing research. Search your idea online. Who else is working on it? What solutions are out there?
Step 4: If you still think this idea is workable for you (and your team), answer the question -> How will others use your work or benefit from it?
If not, go to Step 1.
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