Having a hard time making a living in a field with no barrier to entry, due to too much competition? A simple solution: add mandatory licensing requirements to this profession!


In ages past, certain vocations had a high technical barrier to entry. For example, to be published writer, a person  would have needed a publishing deal (or to buy their own printing press). Similarly, when computers were extremely expensive, a person would need a $5000 computer and a $500 compiler just to write a simple program (which would then need to be distributed on floppy disks).

The Issue:

Nowadays, there’s almost no barrier to entry for these pursuits: a writer can self-publish a story onto the Internet in a single day, and modern programming tools make it easy for programmers to distribute software for free.

The downside of this is that it is no longer possible to make a living by selling an $85 spell-checker by mail, and no one is going to buy an average-quality novella when there are literally thousands of such stories (out-of-copyright classics and the works of modern amateurs) available for free online.


There is a simple solution to allow people in “creative” professions to make a living again: require that these individuals be licensed. This could be an expensive and time-consuming process (e.g. “writers must have a four-year college degree in literature to post text online” or “programmers must pay $10,000 a year to be certified“). This could dramatically restrict the number of people in these professions, thus increasing wages (assuming that supply & demand applies here).

Fig. 1: A government board could certify programmers and writers on an annual basis.

As an added bonus, this system could ensure that the products being produced were of the highest quality. For example, a government board could mandate that programmers only use a time-tested programming language, like COBOL, Ada, or FORTRAN.

For writers, we could allow any type of writing, but mandate that the text be translated into English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Tagalog, and Estonian before it was allowed to be published. (This would also help ensure that the work has worldwide appeal.)

Other endeavors that could be licensed include the visual arts (e.g. painting, photography), music, hobbyist carpentry, sports (e.g. a “tennis license” or “basketball license”), juggling, riding the unicycle, and more.


Many professions are already licensed in some jurisdictions (e.g. auctioneers, doctors, teachers, interior designers, makeup artists, lawyers, and travel agents), so there’s already a straightforward framework that could be used to bring this process to the “creative” professions as well.

PROS: May result in higher-quality output from licensed professionals. The licensing fees will provide additional revenue local governments, and the licensing process will create many jobs in the “license exam prep” field.

CONS: Some people might be opposed to taking a 7 month course before they are allowed to ride a bicycle, but the safety benefits should be obvious.

Rewind your conversations and undo your life’s regrets with the incredible power of “regenerate response,” which is a new conversational custom inspired by the ChatGPT chatbot.


In the year 2023, machine learning based chatbots finally became superior to the average human*. One interesting feature of these chatbots is that they provide the ability for the user to regenerate an answer.

Here’s how the ChatGPT system handles answer regeneration:

  • USER: Please inform me of one vegetable that tastes good. Only provide one vegetable as a response.
  • ChatGPT: Asparagus is a vegetable that many people find delicious […]
  • USER clicks 🔄 Regenerate Response”
  • ChatGPT (Regenerated): Eggplant is a vegetable that is known for its unique taste and texture […]

Not bad at all!

[*] If you don’t believe this, please spend 10 minutes (or however long it takes to change your mind) reading the comments on your local newspaper’s web site.


What would be even better, though, is the ability to use “regenerate response” in real-world conversations, too.

Imagine if any time someone said something dumb (and/or regretted saying something), anyone could utter the phrase “REGENERATE OUTPUT” to give the speaker a socially acceptable “second chance” to answer the question (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: In this example conversation between two people, the green text person has just spilled a coffee, and the red text person is (understandably) annoyed about that. Please observe the power of “REGENERATE OUTPUT” to smooth over awkward social situations.

The ability to “rewind” and fix conversations would be hugely beneficial in nearly every social interaction.


This could be expanded to include text messaging and other forms of textual chat as well. Unless you’re a huge moron, you should be able to see how this would be useful. REGENERATE OUTPUT. It’s likely that everyone can see how this would be valuable.

PROS: Would provide a straightforward way for people to improve their social interactions.

CONS: People might become dependent on the ability to revise their answers. This could be awkward in trials, e.g. Prosecutor: “Where were you on the night of the crime?” Defendant: “Uhh, committing the crime? Wait. Regenerate output. I was asleep at home.”

Incredible new invention for purveyors of video yoga: left-right coded yoga pants, OR genetic engineering to give humans lobster (🦞) claws.


There are a number of YouTube exercise-routine channels where the presenter demonstrates some sort of activity, and you, the viewer, are encouraged to contort your body into the same position.

The Issue:

Humans are quite bilaterally symmetrical. If a yoga presenter is facing sideways, it’s not always extremely obvious which arm / leg is in front, and which is in back. Thus, a viewer might inadvertently perform an exactly-mirrored yoga pose, leading to untold catastrophe.

This situation is particularly noticeable when a demonstrator is wearing black workout clothes.


Just as ships have red and green lights to indicate their left and right side, yoga pants (and shirts) should have a simple color-coded system (Figure 1) so that viewers may intuitively understand the exact details of the yoga pose.

Fig. 1: Left: confusion! Right: clarity.

Alternative Proposal:

Since the root cause of this problem is that humans look basically the same on the left and right sides, one solution would be to change the human species to have left-right asymmetry.

Perhaps we could adopt the lobster’s (🦞) approach: one human hand could become a giant crushing claw, while the other would be a smaller claw (or regular hand) more suited to detail work.

This would solve the top-half symmetry problem, and the colored yoga pants would solve the bottom-half symmetry problem.

PROS: Improves exercise efficiency, leading to lower national health care costs.

CONS: May slightly increase clothing manufacturing costs.

Make the English language more appealing to foreign-language-learners with this one easy simplification!


It’s time-consuming to learn a language. It’s also generally advantageous for a language to have as many speakers as possible, since more speakers means more chance of being able to use a language in a given situation. (In the extreme case, a “secret” language that only one person knew would have very minimal utility.)

Some languages have difficult features that may discourage non-native speakers from learning them: for example, Chinese and Japanese have a large set of characters in their written forms. But even alphabetical languages can be bedeviled by confusing spelling and difficult pronunciation.

The Issue:

Let’s make English easier for non-native speakers to learn. The motivation is simple: if more people learn English, it should increase the value of the “ability to speak English” skill.

There are two categories to fix: spelling and pronunciation. English spelling is a huge mess (which might take more than one blog post to fix), so let’s focus on fixing pronunciation instead.

English has two very common sounds that are difficult for non-native speakers to pronounce: the th in “the” / “those” and the (identically-spelled) th in “thin” / “theta” (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: Consider how often the word “the” becomes something like “duh” or “zuh” in various foreign accents. The th sound is an indefensible pronunciation oddity—let’s remove it!

If we just remove these two “th” sounds, then it becomes, let’s say, 25% easier to learn English pronunciation.


It’s simple: we just replace all instances of the “th” sounds in English with something easier to pronounce, like “d” or “s” (Figure 2).

Fig. 2: It could take some getting used to, but this simple changes removes two entire sounds from the English language. A substantial improvement!

As it turns out, we can replace both sounds with the letter “z,” which makes it even simpler.


This will be a simple change with far-reaching effects. Here are some examples of fixed words:

  • Truth -> Truze (the “e” is needed due to quirks in English spelling)
  • These -> Zese
  • Healthier -> Healzier
  • Thing -> Zing
  • Thorn -> Zorn
  • With -> Wiz

There might be a couple of cases where a word is now pronounced like another word (e.g. “thing” becoming “zing,” which is already a word), but these are unlikely to actually cause confusion in context, as we can see in these complete sentences to illustrate the improvement:

  • It is said zat “Every rose has its zorn”: an undeniable truze.
  • Ze presenter regaled ze audience wiz his charm and wit.
  • Alzough healzier foods may be hard to find, zere is a substantial payoff in quality of life.

So easy to read, and now, so easy to pronounce, too!

PROS: Should encourage more people to learn English, which raises the value of the language for existing speakers.

CONS: People are very change-averse, and may resist this incredible fix to their language.

Improve the grade-school teaching experience to attract and retain better teachers. The best part is—this idea requires NO additional funding! Taxpayers, rejoice.


Many teachers find that the most stressful part of their job is, surprisingly, dealing with the parents of their students.


There are a few ways to address this issue, but one possible way would be to make it impossible for parents and teachers to ever interact. Although this initially seems impossible (Figure 1), there are some creative possibilities.

Fig. 1: An example of a very-much-not-anonymous teacher. Such a teacher would be known by name and would be accountable to the parents.

In the past, some jobs that were dangerous (e.g. jury members serving on an organized crime case) or stigmatized (e.g. a medieval executioner) could perform their tasks anonymously (for the jury, by being hidden behind a screen at the trial, and for the executioner, by wearing a hood).

We can extend this same courtesy to teachers, who would be able to wear identity-hiding garments (Figure 2), and thus teach in complete anonymity.

Fig. 2: The hood-and-robe combo serves as both anonymization and fashion. Everybody wins!

This is essentially a sort of “witness protection program” for educators.


Face-covering masks would also reduce the frequency of teachers contracting diseases from especially-sneezy students, which would then reduce the number of sick days taken by faculty. Think of the monetary savings to the school system!

PROS: Should make teaching a more attractive profession, which will help to recruit and retain talented educators.

CONS: School budgets are often tight: schools might balk at having to pay for masks and robes.

Make English pronunciation (and word definitions) easier to understand with this imported “ruby character” / “furigana” typesetting feature!


In some languages with non-phonetic elements (e.g. Japanese kanji), there can be additional phonetic annotations above the symbols (Figure 1) to clarify the pronunciation of a non-obvious word. This is particularly useful for students, and for clarifying the pronunciation of rare words.

Fig. 1: Even if we have no idea how to read these two characters, we can see from the annotation that they are pronounced “kanji.” This Japanese annotation is called “furigana,” while the more general term is “ruby characters” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_character) for esoteric historical typesetting reasons.


Strangely, the English language does not frequently employ this style of annotation, despite the prevalence of both weirdly-spelled words and weirdly-exotic rare words that are normally only encountered in academic test settings.

Thus, the fix is simple: just add optional pronunciation / definition annotations above esoteric and/or unintuitively pronounced words in English, as shown in Figure 2.

Fig. 2: Here, we see clarification notes (in red) above some words that a hypothetical reader might not know.


These are basically the same as footnotes, but they have the bonus feature of being right there in the text. Footnotes made a lot of sense in the printed-book world, but this system is more straightforward to use on the Internet. (The annotation will always be right there with no special formatting / complicated web browser weirdness going on).

PROS: This can probably be implemented right now using some sort of highly-questionable abuse of Unicode characters (see the “Zalgo text” phenomenon for an example: https://www.google.com/search?q=zalgo+text)

CONS: This undeniably takes up some extra space. But space is free in the digital-print world, so who cares!

Sick of waking up to the horrible sound of an alarm clock? Even an initially-pleasant tune can become stressful, but this new lullaby alarm clock solves the problem completely!


Waking up to the horrible “RRRRRINGGGG” or “BEEP BEEP BEEP” sound of an alarm was once an unavoidable feature of the alarm clock.

The Issue:

Nowadays, most people use their phones as alarm clocks, and the various “alarm” ringtones have become substantially more pleasant, but the problem remains—even a once-pleasant sound becomes annoying and stressful if it wakes you up every day  (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: No matter how pleasant the alarm sound might be in theory, it’s often still quite annoying as an unappreciated wake-up call!


The solution to avoiding the ”negative conditioning“ of the alarm sound is simple: the alarm clock should simply not wake up the user at all! This way, all negative feelings that might once have been caused by the alarm clock will not occur at all.

An updated alarm might have several different styles of soothing lullabies to choose from, or maybe the sound of ocean waves or rain (Figure 2).

Fig. 2: This alarm won’t traumatize its owner, no matter how many times it rings.


This is a great example of treating the source of the problem (“it’s annoying to be woken up by an alarm clock”) instead of superficial downstream issues (like the exact nature of the sound that wakes a person up).

PROS: Improves the currently-stagnant state of alarm clock technology and allows the alarm clock to once again compete with cell phones for supremacy.

CONS: None! No downsides whatsoever.

Mix up the chapters in a book so you don’t know when you’re about to finish it—avoid book meta-knowledge spoilers this way!


A book always has an obvious indicator of how far along you are in the story. With a physical book, you can see the remaining pages, while e-book readers display a difficult-to-avoid indicator like “232 pages (67%) remaining.”

The Issue:

The problem here is that the number of remaining pages conveys a lot of information. For example, imagine a 300-page mystery novel where the detective has assembled the suspects into the parlor of a manor house:

If this action occurs on page 100, then the reader knows that this is obviously not the ending, so the murderer will not be confronted/ revealed.

But if this same action occurs on page 270, the reader knows that the case is nearly concluded, the murderer is about to be revealed, and that all the clues have been gathered.

Yet it’s the same situation either way! It might be nice to read a book without knowing this meta-information.


Let’s take a cue from the Choose Your Own Adventure books, which would often have a few introductory pages and then say “Turn to page 80” (even though that “page 80” text could would have been equally suitable for page 4).

We can simply shuffle some of the chapters around: the first chapter will still start on page 1, but at the end of each chapter, the reader is instructed to turn to a somewhat arbitrary page number to find the start of the next chapter. (Importantly, the chapters are un-numbered.)

For example, at the end of chapter 1, the bottom of the page could say “for the next chapter, turn to page 80.” Pages 80 to 110 would be that “next” chapter (chapter 2). At the end of page 110, the bottom of the page would say “for the next chapter, turn to page 50,” and so on. Figure 1 illustrates how this mixing-up of chapters would work.

Fig. 1: This is basically just a normal book, except the chapters have been reshuffled and chapter numbers have been removed.

A reader could still keep track of how many pages (or chapters) they had read, but most readers will probably just be surprised when they come across the last page.


There is an additional benefit to this system: if a “sophisticated” reader wants a more “avant-garde” style of novel, they can just read the novel straight through in page order. This would provide a sort of interesting—and possibly very confusing—non-linear narrative that jumps around in time. (The same effect can be obtained with an audiobook by setting the track selector to “randomly shuffle.”)

PROS: Costs nothing to implement!

CONS: It might actually not be a huge deal for people to know how close they are to the end of a novel. Usually you can tell when a story is wrapping up, anyway. But not always!

Enhance your car dashboard with a “time to (maybe) crash” / imminent collision indicator. Safety first!


Cars have a lot of instruments. These typically indicate the car’s speed, the current gear, and various other qualities of debatable utility. Nowadays, cars have all sorts of additional sensors (potentially including LIDAR, cameras, GPS, etc…), but the dashboard instrument panel has not changed substantially since about 1950.


Let’s add a new indicator to the dashboard: a “time until a collision with the object directly in front of the car” indicator. This indicator would only use a simple rangefinder to make its calculation, and it would assume that whatever is directly in front of your car is not moving (e.g. it’s a wall or a car that just braked suddenly).

As an example, suppose that a a car is going 60 miles per hour (or 88 feet/second), and is 200 feet behind another car going the same speed. The “worst-case collision time” is that the car in front immediately stops (maybe a meteor hits it or something), so the dashboard indicator would read “2.27 seconds until collision” (200 feet / 88 feet/second = 2.27 seconds). Figure 1 illustrates what a similar readout might look like.

Fig. 1: One surprising conclusion of this dashboard is that there is practically no time to react when driving at highway speeds: even 200 feet of warning gives a driver less than 2.5 seconds to react at the relatively leisurely speed of 60 MPH.

The indicator could get progressively more alarming as the user had less time to react, as shown in Figure 2.

Fig. 2: The “time until collision” indicator should become more eye-catching as the time decreases.


This is probably not a terrible idea, and could legitimately be a useful addition to a car dashboard.

PROS: Probably actually useful!

CONS: Drivers might pay excessive attention to this indicator and, while doing so, crash into the very object that the indicator is warning them about.

TikTok? YouTube Shorts? Instagram Reels? These short video ideas are fine and dandy, but what the people really clamor for is un-skippable mandatory long videos!


In the early 2020s, the appeal of short (< 1 minute) videos became widespread, with TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and other services vying for market share. (Surprisingly, the earliest major entrant into this genre, Vine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vine_(service)), completely failed and was shut down in 2017).

The Issue:

Unfortunately, the popularity of “bite-sized” videos has caused people [who?] to become concerned [citation needed] that the attention spans of the nation’s citizens are getting shorter and shorter.

At the current rate, a person who was once able to easily listen attentively to an entire Feynman physics lecture will now barely be able to sit through half of a 30-second video montage of obese dogs rolling down stairs.


We do not propose to deny users the pleasure of watching dogs roll down stairs: instead, we will simply lock this “dessert” behind the “eat your vegetables” of a longer (and more plausibly educational) video.

The process is simple: after the user has watched enough “dumb” videos, their account is forbidden from watching any more videos until they have watched something long from the “educational” list (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: The user would love to watch “All Horse Jokes” or “Ghost Time” (bottom right), but unfortunately they need to watch another 1 hour and 27 minutes of “Algebra: A History” before their account is unlocked.

The use of sophisticated and intrusive 1984-esque tracking software (or maybe a quiz?) will ensure that the user actually watches the video.


This is a great idea, or at least isn’t any worse than Quibi (which cost 2 billion dollars), Vine (which somehow failed despite being TikTok before TikTok was invented), or PlayStation Vue. The existence of these (and other) well-funded failures thus proves that this idea is, in fact, actually good.

PROS: Might increase the attention span of the citizenry, thus leading to important civic achievements.

CONS: It could be hard to convince people to use a video hosting service with this degree of behavioral micromanagement.