Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spoil Sports of the Prediction Game

"You can chase the future. But you'll never catch it."

Can one predict the
time evolution of a system?

Weather,
pool (billiards),
family relationships,
Brownian motion,
technology about___,
etc., etc., etc....

Ever have a day when everything went wrong?

Say you predicted you would have a normal college day.

But your alarm clock didn't ring.

Already running late, you couldn't find your backpack (car keys, USB drive, etc.).

Finally you stagger out the door, but your car won't start.

Later, you find out you missed a surprise quiz.

It's a bit like that for the entire field of forecasting.

Here's why.


1. Spoil Sport of Prediction #1: the Observer Effect
To figure out what happens next,
you need to know where things are now.

Example:

You hit a billiard ball

What happens next?

What do you need to know to figure it out?












You need to know

    the current state of the pool table

    the speed and direction of the ball



Problem:

The observer effect

The principle that:

     The act of finding out
    "where things are now"
           (i.e. determining
           the current state
           of the system of interest)

    changes it to something else
    (i.e. perturbs the system).

    In physics-

        the observer effect
        is most noticeable for:
            very small things, or
           faint effects

        In principle,
        the observer effect
        applies to any scenario:

   Light pushes

   Electrical measurements
   affect the electricity

   Asking someone
   about himself/herself
   changes the person

  Measurements change what they measure

  Measurement in inherently inaccurate!

The observer effect on the web

http://theobservereffect.com/ is a site
www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV_aXn7_gLM (2 min.)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=0USyVFsiDIA (2 min.)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUJfjRoxCbk (Feynman, 56 min.)

      Could this be an automatically generated animation? Is there a future to that?

From "theobservereffect.com" site owner
    "The observer effect - an historical perspective"
    (2010)
    (Caution: cut audio for 30-sec. ad first)
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xewljq_the-observer-effect-an-historical-p_lifestyle

It is even a Star Trek episode:
    (30-sec. trailer) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eqb9PDILMU

There's the observer effect in physics

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwXQjRBLwsQ

And not just physics...

    Social science also has an observer effect

    See first few seconds of:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HhnUDqEfUo


So. . .
 . . . Can you think of
some example
of the observer effect?
  
     (You could write it down, or groups could jointly try to think of examples)
    











Does the observer effect
change any futures
of things like
    cars
    computers
    education
    the next presidential election
    children
    peers/older folks
    yourself










Here are a few more

. . . if you are watching over kids, they act different

. . . What about adults?


. . . Ever try to look at
      the back of your head
      using two mirrors?

      It makes you move your head around

. . . If you shine a light beam
      through dusty air in a dark room,
      the light will affect the dust a little bit.

      Or dust in a sunbeam.



. . . What about watching a pool game?

. . . What about measuring the weather
      for weather forecasting?

. . . What about measures of
      the economy
      printed in news articles?



Suppose you could control the observer effect

     (Is this possible?)


. . . now just figure out the 6-D position-&-velocity of everything

. . . . . . and crunch with a computer to tell the future! Right?

. . . Unfortunately, no. This just brings us to:











2. Spoil Sport of Prediction #2: 
The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFwRAvpWDB8
("AP Chemistry:
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle")
(2:49)

Nota bene:
it applies to all particles
not just electrons

Here it is with
photons (light particles):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT7xJ0tjB4A&NR=1
(copy at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH7z3TZFYWQ)

. . . You could try it with
      a laser pointer and
      a piece of black plastic cut from a notebook cover!

The Uncertainty Principle:
It says you
cannot precisely know
both the position and the momentum
of a particle
at the same time

The best achievable
uncertainty in position,
delta x,
times uncertainty in momentum,
delta m,
= h/4*pi (a constant)
where h is Planck's constant

x*m=h/4π
 
What happens if we have
total accuracy for position, x
in other words, x=?

Since momentum m
is velocity
v times the mass:

m=v*mass

What is momentum in everyday terms?

What is the
uncertainty about
momentum m,
or m,
if v=1mph 
and mass=5 lb.?

we have uncertainty about velocity too (and mass too, for that matter). So there is uncertainty about position, velocity, and mass of any object. Let's focus on position and velocity, out of tradition.

Does the uncertainty principle apply to bowling balls? Asteroids?

Recall: x*m=h/4π
What is =?
What is x?
What is x?
What is *?
What is m?
What is m?
What is h?
What is h/4π?


Let's break m

(uncertainty about momentum)
into its components:

m=(mass*vel)
So x*m=h/4π
becomes x*(mass*vel)=h/4π
Assume mass is known (say 10 lb.)
Then x*(mass*vel)=h/4π
becomes x*mass*(vel)=h/4π
If  mass is high (bowling ball)
then consider again:
x*mass*(vel)=h/4π
The best possible measurements can now have less total uncertainty!
It makes intuitive sense
However algebraically, divide both sides by mass
x*mass*(vel)=h/4π
becomes
x(vel)=(h/4π)/mass
which is a lot smaller

Some more details

To fully describe a system
     such as the universe
     or
     some small part of the universe
we need simply list
the position and velocity (and mass)
of every particle in it.

How many numbers are needed
to describe the position?

Three:
a side-to-side location
a front-to-back location, and
a height
(also known as
x, y, and z coordinates)

How many numbers are needed
to describe the velocity,
where velocity consists of
a speed and a direction?

Three:
a side-to-side speed
a forward/backward speed, and
an up-down speed.

This concept is
easiest to visualize in
a 2-D simplified example:


So we need
six numbers
for every object
to fully describe the system
(actually seven,
since each object has a mass as well).

Now for the bad news...
those 6 or 7 numbers are
in principle
impossible to get with full accuracy,
because
they include values for both
position and velocity (and mass, #7)

    The Uncertainty Principle tells us that
        higher accuracy
              for one results in
        lower accuracy
              for the other.

In short,
   if the Observer Effect
   doesn't stop
   our prediction ambitions,
   then
   the Uncertainty Principle will.

But what if we could control both?
Well we can't!

Then suppose we could, just enough
to predict futures with confidence.

Alas,
we're not out of the woods,
because of the
esoteric physics phenomenon called
"quantum tunneling."


3. Spoil Sport of Prediction #3: 
Quantum Tunneling

According to quantum theory:
    objects are not as
    localized in space
    as we intuitively think.

Instead, objects have
      wave-like characteristics
      and are actually
      "smeared" over a space
          within which they exist
          with some probability
          at each point
          in that space.

This leads to weirdnesses like:
    A tiny object
         such as a
         subatomic particle,
    if very near a thin barrier,
        has a certain probability
       of being on the other side!

    It may be observed there,
    and if so,
    it has thus "tunneled"
    through the barrier
    without making a hole in it.
This is quantum tunneling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LKjJT7gh9s


Actually, the term quantum tunneling
is applied to the ability of objects to "tunnel"
through other kinds of barriers than a solid one.
For example, consider the somewhat notorious
example of an idealized pencil balanced on its tip.

Source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_cldxKGOzgeM/Sb-pzadDENI/AAAAAAAACFM/-u4n2s3-5q8/s400/A+pencil+on+it%27s+tip.JPG
If the tip is sharp, except for a tiny flat spot
(say, a couple of atom wide)
it might be difficult to balance,
but one might think that
with sufficient care it could be done.

Well not exactly.
Because the pencil is actually "smeared" a little bit,
it has a certain, rather small probability
of being tipped enough to lose balance and fall.
Since the smearing is symmetric,
it could in fact fall in any direction.
The probability of being tipped enough
to lose balance is small and a single such pencil
would be unlikely to fall for a long time
(Easton, 2007, p. 1103).

But get enough pencils together
and one will fall soon enough.
For example,
balance an array of 1000 x 1000 pencils
and one will fall,
knocking over other pencils
and leading to a general domino-like conflagration
with an average (but unpredictable) delay of
about a month.

What pencil will start the general crash
and in what direction the pencils fall is
impossible to predict.

Thus, quantum tunneling
prevents accurate prediction
and is a
spoil sport of prediction.

But maybe the system we're interested in
predicting the future of
is not so finely tuned.
Maybe we can handle the Observer Effect,
the Uncertainty Principle,
and quantum tunneling
adequately for our system.
Alas, our troubles are still not over!

Spoil Sport of Prediction #4: 
The Butterfly Effect

The idea:
a butterfly flapping its wings
will create a small atmospheric disturbance.
That disturbance will propagate unpredictably.
Some time later (how long?),
the paths of hurricanes will be determined by those tiny flaps!


One mathematical description
of atmospheric cycles
whose future behavior depends seemingly unpredictably
on small present events,
may be modeled by a special kind of water wheel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhOBibeW5J0
http://maxwell.ucsc.edu/~drip/talks/lorenz/media/wiel.MPG
fire wheel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MszbeTgpcDg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A_rl-DAmUE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG-MbYDjpGM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2A7Ii0ST5E
Why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF5Wvi_Iiy4

“When our results concerning
the instability of nonperiodic flow
are applied to the atmosphere,
which is ostensibly nonperiodic,
they indicate that  
prediction of the sufficiently distant future
is impossible by any method, 
unless the present conditions are known exactly. 
In view of the 
inevitable inaccuracy and incompleteness 
of weather observations, 
precise very-long-range forecasting 
would seem to be non-existent.” [emphasis added]
— Edward N. Lorenz

Let's discuss what butterflies might affect some topics of interest:

(Last year's topics:
. . . Future of telepresence (P)
. . . "Unikey" (C)
. . . Template-based sentence analysis (C)
. . . Robotic surgery (O)
. . . Virtual education (M)
. . . How does our age affect how we think about the future (C)
. . . Future of government (M) )

Let's discuss some new topics from this year!


So you think you've
controlled the Butterfly Effect
and all those others?
Then welcome to...










5. Spoil Sport of Prediction #5: 
External perturbations

To figure out what happens next,
you need to know where things are now.
But you also need to know
what outside influences
will impinge on the system between "now" and "next,"
whenever "next" is.

Consider pool again
    Say you know
        Every location of every ball
        The velocity of each
    A fast computer can
        Figure out what will happen
        Several seconds into the future
        Faster than it really happens!
            After that, various issues cause problems
                (Spoil sports 1-4)
            Suppose we tame them somehow (a big if)
            Our problems are not over:
    What if
         a draft hits the table?
         The table is very slightly tilted
         Someone bumps it?
         Etc.?

Those influences
can affect
the evolution of
the system
   that's why they're called
   "influences"

Another example
    A Lorenz water wheel,
    but it's raining
         Every raindrop is a butterfly flap
         ...whose tiny actions
         change the direction of the wheel
         at some future time.

More generally,
every
external nudge
to a system
is like a
butterfly wing flap








- how about the future of
       your car?
       you?
       a person's illness?
  How can we avoid
  total loss of control of
  society, systems, selves...?



Computer round-off error
      another source of perturbations
      from outside the system under study
      Example:
          Frictionless pool table simulation that repeats
          Weather simulation
                The butterfly effect was discovered as an effect of round-off error

Note the
"Lorenz attractor"
     (recall youtube simulations)





Let's identify some
      external influences
      likely to affect
      the future of
          some of your favorite topics
         (we could list them on the board)





6. Spoil Sport of Prediction #6: 
Existentialist Angst 
- Why Care 
(About the Future)?


Angst: 
a feeling of 
dread, anxiety or anguish 
about 
the "big questions" 
of the 
     world,  
    universe, 
    humankind, 
    etc.










Does the 
future matter?







Why?







Does 
the existence 
of humanity 
matter?







Why?














Does the kind of existence affect the answer?

. . . Difficult struggle for existence
vs.
. . . Prosperity





Maybe...
these questions
should not
be asked...

       "Eat dessert first" - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

       "Eat,
        drink and
        be merry,
        for tomorrow
        we shall die"
            - Isaiah 22:13, etc.

       "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
         - Bobby McFerrin (after Meher Baba)



Decisions often focus on the short term


. . . Business decisions focus on short term

. . . Political decisions focus on short term

. . . Many people focus on the short term

. . . What about animals?

. . . Why is it good to focus on the short term?

. . . Why is it not good to focus on the short term?

. . . Why is it good to focus on the long term?

. . . Why is it not good to focus on the long term?

What does short term focus say about existentialist angst?

What does long term focus say about it?


Existentialism


A school of philosophy

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
was a key figure in its development

. . . Danish philosopher and theologian

"...focused on subjective human experience
rather than the objective truths
of mathematics and science..."

"...interested in people's quiet struggle
with the apparent meaninglessness of life..."
- Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism

        What do you think of that?




Discussing the future of humanity is nice, 
but what about my (your) future!??

. . . If life is meaningless,
      then does the future matter?

. . . Is life meaningless?

. . . Is the question meaningless?

. . . Is it important to give life meaning?

. . . What should one try to do with life?

. . . Maybe reasoning from accepted
      first principles does not resolve these


      Therefore you can choose the answers you prefer!
      (Or not choose, it's up to you)

              Equivalently, you can choose
              to add first principles
              as needed to get the answers



                         How about maximizing the integral
                         of positive feeling in the universe?



. . . . . . You could pick pessimistic answers,
            or
            you could pick optimistic ones too

. . . . . . Pure logic won't say which is right

. . . . . . Better to pick the optimistic ones!
                Because life's more fun that way

. . . That seems like common sense...

           Yet it is not always a matter of conscious choice

                    "Breaking up is hard to do"

                     Optimistic and pessimistic moods

                     Taken to extremes - bipolar illness

                     That's brain chemistry not choice

                           Yet... optimism can be taught & practiced


How societies "think" (actually, act) about the future

Source: J. Diamond,
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Recall pre-"discovery" Easter Island and the canoes
A big palm tree was needed to build a good canoe
A good canoe was needed to get plentiful seafood
So why on earth did someone cut down the last palm tree?
      (see p. 410?)
      What do you think?


Why societies can collapse
(Another kind of existential problem)

You might think that societies would try to
anticipate and control existential risks


      But sometimes they don't
      What existential risks are possible for us?


Here is a taxonomy (from Diamond)

Failure to recognize a critical problem before it happens

Example: foxes and rabbits in Australia
Anasazi civilization (Arizona) did not anticipate local climate change (drought)
France built the Maginot line for defense, but lost WWII in mere weeks
Etc. (can you think of any)

Failure to recognize the problem when it happens
Examples: any slow-moving trend obscured by short-term effects
Note the noise-and-signal issue
           (http://computinginformationandthefuture.blogspot.com/2009/10/trend-analysis.html)
Also called "creeping normalcy"
Check Diamond (p. 426) for more about the palm trees...
Etc. (Can you think of any examples?)

Failure to try to solve the problem after it is recognized
Why on Earth would anyone or any group do that??
Yet according to Diamond this "failure is the most frequent"!
. . . Failure may benefit influential special interests that therefore push it
. . . Greenland Norse leaders kept cows (unsuited to the cold)
. . . The few pike fishermen stocked pike in Montana waters,
       destroying trout for the many more trout fishermen (p. 427)
. . . "Throughout recorded history,
        actions or inactions by self-absorbed
        kings, chiefs, and politicians
        have been a regular cause of societal collapses" - p. 431
. . . Any examples closer to home of
      benefiting a few at the expense of the rest?
. . . Is this rational behavior?
. . . Unregulated access to common resources
. . . . . . "If I don't take as much as I can, someone else will"
. . . . . . Pretty soon it's gone!
. . . . . . Any examples?
. . . . . . Is this rational behavior?
. . . . . . Solutions?

Trying but failing to solve the problem
Greenland Norse colony: "The cruel reality is that...Greenland's cold climate and...limited...resources have posed an insuperably difficult challenge to...a long-lasting sustainable economy." - p. 436


So should societies think differently?




Why?






7. Spoil sport of prediction #7: The care horizon

Time value of money

How much is the future of the human race worth? We'll increase it later, but let's start with an admittedly bargain basement $100. If you had $98.04 now, and put it in the bank at an interest rate of 2% per year, then in a year you'd have $100. That means getting $100 one year from now is only worth having $98.04 now, at least from a "Time Value of Money" perspective. Similarly, getting $100 in 2 years is only worth $96.12 now, because adding 2% to $96.12 gives $98.04 in one year, and compounding by adding another 2% gives $100 a year later. Extending this reasoning further, the human race in a modest 233 years would be worth just under a dollar now. In 466 years? Less than a penny.

$100 is way too small!

It's fair to say that a hundred dollars is an underestimate for the value of the entire human race. So let's increase it to a fair (or at least fairer) price. We might multiply the number of people by the value of the life of each and every person on the planet.

What is the value of a person's life? Economics (known as the dismal science, even to economists) tells us that the de facto value society places on a human life can actually be calculated, and courts of law in fact sometimes do such calculations.

Answers vary, of course, but a few million dollars is often within range.

Multiply that by the number of people in the world and you get a biggish number:

$100 quadrillion for the value of the human race (at most).


Is $100 quadrillion way too small?

But wait - maybe you don't trust the financial and legal wizards with something so important. After all, we already trust them with some pretty important things, and they periodically betray that, seriously screwing things up. Maybe we should use a higher number, just to be more sure we aren't under-valuing ourselves.


How about a dollar for every single atom in the known universe? That's around $10^80 (1 followed by 80 zeroes dollars)? It is a lot of cash. Way (way way) more than the United States has ever printed. There are literally not enough atoms in the known universe to even print that much money. Yet, if that is the value of humanity's existence 9,070 years from now, the value at present would be...$100! A scant 466 years after that? Less than a penny. How about the present value of humanity existing in a million years? The answer is a fraction of a penny so tiny that popular spreadsheets, calculators and computer programming languages can't even state it. They typically just think it is 0, but if you must know, it's actually about  $0.0000001.


It's STILL too small!

Wait - someone in the back has a question - yes? "But it's not just the value in year one million we're after. We also need to add in the value in year 1,000,001, year 1,000,002, etc., forever and ever. That's got to add up, eventually." Well, only a little, it turns out. The value now is "bigger," but still less than $0.0000001 even at a dollar an atom. The upshot of all this is that there is no good financial reason to care whether humanity exists in ten thousand or a million years - at least according to standard economics principles. Therefore there is no need to plan that far into the future, or go to trouble and expense to preserve the Earth indefinitely, or even to bother predicting that far ahead. 


The time value of money seems indeed 
to be a spoil sport of the prediction game.



Making it personal: It's not a money thing at all

Maybe you are still unconvinced.
Such sophistry fails to capture the real facts at a gut,
common sense level, you might say.
Then consider the following argument.

You care about yourself, so you don't want humanity to end while you are still alive (it might not be pleasant). You care about your children (or you will if you have any some day, or maybe you care about some or even all other children). So you don't want humanity to end during their lifetimes, even if you are already gone. You probably even care (or will care) about your grandchildren because you will hopefully get to know them personally. Furthermore, you care about their grandchildren (though probably less) simply because you care about your grandchildren, who care about theirs. But you have no gut level reason to care about the generations after that, because neither you, nor anyone you care about will ever know them. To put it another way, how much do you care about your grandparents' grandparents, and how much did they care about you? Still care in some more abstract, dispassionate sense? Then see the previous paragraph.


Maybe you are a fast enough breeder, and long enough liver, that you'll care about your great grandchildren and theirs, instead of just grandchildren. Yet that is still only 6 generations into the future, not even the biblical 7, a couple of centuries or so at the most. So relax, quit worrying, eat dessert first.... In particular, don't bother with predicting past the 2-century "care horizon," because there's little point to it.

The 2-century care horizon is, thus, our last spoil sport of the prediction game.




References

D. Easton, The quantum mechanical tipping pencil - a caution for physics teachers, European Journal of Physics, vol. 28 (2007), pp. 1097-1104.

R. Posner, Catastrophe: Risk and Response, Oxford University Press, 2004

"Time Value of Money": TVM is standard terminology in the finance and accounting world.

"Well, only a little, it turns out." There is a formula for calculating the sum of a geometrically decreasing, infinite series. Look it up (or play with a spreadsheet instead).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

TRIZ


1. "TRIZ":
a way to get ideas
--  about  --
future technologies

. . . But why call it TRIZ?


. . . . . . because "TRIZ"
            stands for:
           Теория
           решения
           изобретательских
           задач


. . . . . . . . . (of course!
                  What else
                  could it be?)


. . . . . . transliteration:
           Teoriya
           Resheniya
           Izobretatelskikh
           Zadatch


. . . . . .direct translation (more or less):
           Theory of
           Solutions to
           Invention
           Problems


. . . . . .typical translation:
           Theory of
           Inventive 
           Problem
           Solving


. . . TRIZ
      a systematic way
      to get new ideas
      about technology


. . . TRIZ was created by
      Genrich Altshuller
         (1926-1998)




















(Source: marketada.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/altshuller.bmp)


. . . . . . He registered
            his first invention
            at age 15


. . . . . . At 20 he invented
            a way to escape
            from submarines


. . . . . . . . . (This did not help
                  the crew of
                  the Kursk)


. . . . . . . . . . . . length:
                        154 meters
                        How long is that?








. . . . . . . . . . . . (just under 1/10 mile)


. . . . . . . . . . . . height:
                        four stories

                       (not quite as tall as
                       this building)                                                    


. . . . . . . . . . . . The Kursk
                        was the world's
                        biggest attack submarine


. . . . . . . . . . .  in 2000 a fuel explosion
                       sank the submarine.


                       Hitting the sea bottom
                       caused torpedoes
                       to explode.


                       Some crew
                       survived both explosions
                       but perished later
                       without escaping.


                      Goodbye notes
                      were found

       Part of salvaged wreck of
               K-141 Kursk
(Source: englishrussia.com/images/kursk_submarine/1.jpg)


(Source: englishrussia.com/images/kursk_submarine/7.jpg)



A (much smaller) sub
is docked across the
river and open for
public visits

. . . . . . Altshuller worked as
            an invention inspector
            for the Soviet navy



2. TRIZ is a compendium
    of several related
    methods and approaches




Source: http://www.amsup.com/images/triz/triz.gif
(available at http://web.archive.org/web/20120307030924/http://www.amsup.com/images/triz/triz.gif)


Let's do a quick web search on:
TRIZ

See triz.org 
for a video

See triz.org > triz > What is Triz?
      Some basic starting points are described

. . . also see
www.mazur.net/triz/contradi.htm
(e.g. www.mazur.net/triz/contra02.gif):

. . .full table (a good one is here)
     is 39x39
     engineering parameters

. . .interior cells list engineering principles
. . . . . .for resolving the conflict

Automated lookup interface:
http://triz40.com/

Example:
. . .cans

. . .want to improve parameter #4?
. . . . . ."length of nonmoving object"
. . . . . .why might we want that?
. . . . . .what problems might be caused?


. . .conflicts include #11:
. . . . . ."tension, pressure"
. . . . . .(wall is now weaker
. . . . . .in the middle)

. . .solutions are:
. . . . . .principles of invention:
           1, 14, 35
           (40 of them)

. . .principle 1:
. . . . . .Segment it
           make can shorter
           make lots of little walls
                  (corrugate it)
           put circular ridges

. . .principle 14:
. . . . . .Spheroidality
           (add curvature)
           round the edges
         
           cars use curved sheet metal
           a flat strip is very bendable!

. . .principle 35:
. . . . . .change physical or chemical state

           use a stronger metal alloy

. . .Let's try another one together:
. . . . . .need to pick an object
. . . . . .pick a row for improvement
. . . . . .pick a column showing conflict
. . . . . .identify cell with principles
. . . . . .look up the principles of invention
. . . . . .apply them!
(for example, cell phone repairability, or whatever we want)

We could each try one individually
     Then report to class
          Use 
               table of improvement+conflicts
               list of principles      

We could break into groups and do one
         

What are the 
40 Principles of Invention
in TRIZ?

. . . (see e.g.
      http://www.triz40.com/aff_Principles.htm)

We can think about these 
with respect to the 
evolution of any technology. . . 

    For example:
    consider some 
    inventions that 
    have room to grow

        E-readers
        CFLs
        Smartphones
        Home robots
        Gaming devices
        or pick anything you like

(Source: http://inshadesofscarlet.blogspot.com/#!/2010/09/lightbulbs-seriously.html

We could break into groups of say 3,
each group picks an invention,
applies the 40 principles to it,
and explains to class briefly

1) "Segmentation":
break something unitary
into parts, modules, pieces, etc.

E.g. replace large truck
with a
tractor+trailer design
(is that good?)


2) "Taking out":
remove a part


E.g. put a
noisy air compressor
outside the building
where the air is used


E.g. Use the
bark but not the dog
as part of a burglar alarm


3) "Local Quality":
make something that is
uniform, nonuniform


E.g. refrigerator with
freezer,
moist cold bin for veggies,
dry cold bin for meat, etc.


4) "Assymetry":
make something that is
symmetric, assymetric


E.g. make a round rod
have a flat part
so a knob can
turn it without slipping


5) "Merging":
assemble similar objects
into a larger assembly

E.g. make a
network of PCs


E.g. 3 wheels are
more stable than 2 are
more stable than 1


You can get
"emergent properties"!


6)"Universality":
make one thing
do more than one thing


E.g. pencil can
erase,
store,
attach
as well as write


7) "Nested Doll":
(like those Russian dolls)


E.g. set of measuring spoons


8) "Anti-weight":
counter heaviness
with flotation


E.g. non-sinking boats;
balloons;
airplane wings and
boat hydrofoils


9) "Preliminary anti-action":
counter bad effects
of good things
somehow


E.g. lead aprons at the dentist


E.g. slow-release medications


10) "Preliminary action":
do something to an object
before it is needed


E.g. put glue on paper before selling it




. . . Stickers!
. . . Tape!


E.g. sterilize surgical instruments
for next time - autoclaves, etc.


11) "Beforehand cushioning":
have backup systems
present in case of failure


E.g. emergency parachutes,
fire escapes,
parking brakes


12) "Equipotentiality":
compensate for gravity


E.g. spring-loaded
cafeteria dish dispenser


13) "The other way round":
reverse the action;
go upside down;
make something fixed, movable
make something movable, fixed


E.g. rotate part instead of tool;
treadmills;
escalators


14) "Spheroidality":
change from
flat or angular
surfaces
to curved


E.g. domes and arches;
ball-point pens instead of quills


15) "Dynamics":
make it
movable
or
flexible


E.g. adjustable car seats;
medical scopes in flexible tubes


16) "Partial or excessive actions":
Do a little too much or too little, then fix


E.g. put a bit too much on your plate,
then leave a little;

almost fill your tank,
then top off


17). . . . . . "Another dimension":
use the 3rd dimension or 4th, etc.


E.g. 3D TV;
add wings to car;
2-sided screen;
double toothbrush;
dump truck


18) "Mechanical vibration":
cause oscillation/vibration


E.g. electric hedge trimmer/carving knife;
gall stone destruction;
ultrasonic neurostimulation


19) "Periodic action":
keep repeating


E.g. hitting nail with hammer;
warbling siren


20) "Continuity of useful action":
eliminate breaks


E.g. night light;
auto time sharing
(zip cars)


21) "Skipping":
do it so fast
that harm is averted


E.g. flash freezing;
heated ice cream scoop


22) "Turn Lemons into Lemonade":
use bad effect
for a good purpose


E.g. make/save money
by recycling
. . . (reuse blank side; sell cans)


23) "Feedback": improve performance by examining the effects


E.g. hard to spend
UALR budgeted money
in late spring;
cruise control


24) "Intermediary": link/separate 2 things with a go-between


E.g. potholder;
nailset;
shuttle diplomacy


25) "Self-service":
something serves itself


E.g. fertilize with grass clippings;
mow the leaves instead of raking
pot liquor to improve flavor


26) "Copying":
save with inexpensive copies


E.g. VR instead of reality;
photos;
music on CD instead of live, etc.


27) "Cheap short-lived objects": throw it away afterwards


E.g. paper plates;
disposable diapers;
anyone remember returnable bottles?


28) "Mechanics substitution":
get rid of moving parts or other objects


E.g. CD instead of vinyl record
. . . (what next? After that?);
acoustic pet fence


29) "Pneumatics and hydraulics":
use gas or liquid
instead of solid parts


E.g. gel-filled footwear soles;
natural gas instead of logs


30) "Flexible shells and thin films":
get rid of heavy, solid things


E.g. paper instead of slates;
whiteboard wall covering
instead of solid slate blackboards;
balloons


31) "Porous materials": make nonporous things, porous


E.g. save weight by making it fluffier


32) "Color changes":
change color or transparency
of object or environment


E.g. use red light to
see nocturnal critters
in a zoo


E.g. use differently colored markers
for writing


33) "Homogeneity":
make interacting objects of the same material


E.g. cut diamonds
with diamond dust

E.g. make artificial organs
out of person's own cells


34) "Discarding and recovering":
it disappears or changes itself


E.g. biodegradable plastic bags;



35). . . . . . "Parameter changes":
change properties of a substance


E.g. heat food to cook/kill germs


36) "Phase transitions":


E.g. freeze liquid center,
then dip in warm chocolate

E.g. air conditioning works
by vaporizing/condensing
a liquid


37) "Thermal expansion":
things expand/contract with temperature


E.g. make thermostats that
bend and curve
as temperature changes


38) "Strong oxidants":
use oxygen-enrichment


E.g. medical use;
match heads;
rocket fuel


39) "Inert atmosphere": use chemically inactive stuff


E.g. store priceless artifacts
in argon or nitrogen


E.g. add filler
when making pills
so you can pick them up


40) "Composite materials":
use multiple materials in a substance


E.g. fiberglass;
reinforced concrete


3. Other aspects of TRIZ
- (can also apply to
your topics)

. . . One aspect:
the natural evolution
from doing one key task
and "branching out"

. . . . . . first pencils wrote

            then they "branched out"

                soon they erased, too

                and clipped on

                and stored

                and didn't need sharpening

                and arguably even

                     used ink not lead

                     stored documents

                     played videos


. . . . . . From keyboards
            to foldup keyboards,
            ergonomic keyboards,
            what other kinds?



. . . . . . How have
            cell phones
            branched out?



. . . . . . This also explains
            "bloatware"


. . . . . . Have cars branched out?


. . . . . . Can you think of
            something that
            has not
            branched out much?



4. Also from TRIZ:
usability,
aesthetics
become factors later


. . . Early cars:
"you can get any color car
you want as long as it's black"


Example, anyone?





Monday, February 6, 2012

Social Wisdom: Prediction Markets

Prediction Markets

1. Putting your
money where
your mouth is


2. People make
predictions
all the time

. . . about
      other peoples'
      reactions

. . . . . . ability to predict
            the effect of
            your actions on others
            is useful

. . . . . . you need a
           "theory of mind"

. . . . . . you're in a
            game theory
            scenario

. . . . . . data suggests
            population density
            may be
            a major cause of
            human brain size


Human brain. Credits: Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator; C. Carl Jaffe, MD, cardiologist. Http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/




Chimpanzee brain. Credits: Gaetan Lee; tilt corrected by Kaldari. Http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/



. . . . . . this is the
            social competition theory
            of human brain genesis
           (ref.: Bailey & Geary,
           Hominid Brain Evolution:
           Testing Climatic,
           Ecological, and Social Competition
           Models
           Human Nature,
           vol. 20, no. 1,
           Mar. 2009, pp. 67-79.)


. . . . . . so the need to predict
            may explain
            why we're human!
            (Predict what?)



3. Prediction is
important in 
other areas too

Consider
the weather:


Credits:
Don Amaro from
Madeira Islands,
Portugal,
upload by Herrick
17:17, 4 December 2007 (UTC).
Http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


Waterspout.
Credits: http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/bigs/wea00308.jpg.
1969 September 10.
Photographer: Dr. Joseph Golden,
NOAA. Public domain.

 . . . The National Weather Service (NWS)
       is a large, highly technical
       gov't agency devoted to
              prediction
       using large computers, etc.
. . . It's not perfect
      but it's
      much better than nothing

. . . weather prediction
      uses computers,
      but other kinds of
      prediction can use
      other methods...



4. Crowdsourcing group wisdom...

     Sports betting
     is an example

     Another example
     (from a previous semester)

     . . . Will the
     average global temperature
     for 2012
     be the highest 
     ever recorded?


     . . . at 12:23 on the afternoon before class (Sp '12):
     you could have bought a "yes"
     for $2.50 from intrade.com
     . . . if you ended up right -
           you'd get $10
     . . . if wrong -
           you'd lose your $2.50

    What ultimately happened?

        Jan 16, 2013:
       NASA: 2012 Was 
            9th Hottest Year 
            on Record

Let's go to 
intrade.com 
and check it out
 
Why should 
prediction contracts
get closer to
$10 or $0
as they approach
resolution?
 
Could price ever get
high, then end up low
(or vice versa)?
 


5. More about sports prediction markets

Tim Henman
serving at Wimbledon, 2005.
Credits: Photo by Spiralz, license by http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
 . . . Sports betting has
       a long history


 . . . People want to
       predict games
       
       They'll pay
       good money
       to do it!

. . . A theoretically ideal
      "honest bookmaker"
      will offer odds
      that result in
      equal payoff
      regardless of outcome


. . . (But how do
      real bookmakers
      differ from that?)



. . . By equalizing the payoffs,
      the true odds
      according to group wisdom
      become evident

. . . . . The $$ bet are 
          merely redistributed


6. Political prediction...

. . .During election season,
     media and candidates
     all try to
     predict outcomes


. . . Some of it
      you don't hear about


. . . polling,
      trend analysis,
      sociological analysis
      are big

      . . . but why is
      asking people
      their opinion
      unreliable?


. . . predictions markets
      have been claimed
      to do it better!

. . . But they aren't perfect

  • Manipulation can skew results


7. About corporate stocks...


. . . . . . The stock market
            is a
            "leading economic indicator"


. . . . . . (Economists pay
            special attention to
            leading indicators)

. . . . . . Is the stock market
            a prediction market?

8. If someone
asked you
to invent a way
to collect
group predictive wisdom,
what might you come up with?



. . . Maybe a
      Delphi-like method


. . . Probably (?) not
      prediction markets


. . . . . . An early design for
            prediction markets
            appears in
            The Shockwave Rider,
            by John Brunner, 1975


. . . . . . His term was Delphi Pool


. . . . . . General idea:
            when real money
            is at stake, 
            people predict better



9. Terrorism and
    prediction markets


. . . . . . DARPA's PAM
            (Policy Analysis Market)
            permitted a
            prediction market
            for terrorist attacks

. . . . . . Does that
            sound like
            a good idea
            to you?

. . . . . . How might it 
            help fight terrorism?










+ we might have forwarning

- terrorists might
  buy predictions, then
  make them come true
  and make money!


. . . . . . In 2003,
           2 senators found out,
           PAM was cancelled, and
           a DARPA
           program director resigned


. . . . . . . . . not clear if
                  terrorism predictions
                  were ever traded


10. An example prediction market

. . . see http://www.intrade.com/

. . . . . . Intrade *was* a major player until

. . . . . . . . .the founder died climbing Mt. Everest, and

. . . . . . . . .the company was barred from doing business in the US


11. Another kind of prediction market

. . . http://www.kurzweilai.net/crowdsourcing-forecasts-on-science-and-technology-events-and-innovations



12. As time allows, 
let's 

      - try our own prediction market