Companies have various approaches to firing employees (or “laying them off” or “making them redundant,” if you prefer a softer and more soothing terminology).
However, generally speaking, no one regards the layoff process as being pleasant for either the fire-er or the fire-ee.
Instead of making the firing process a brutal and harsh process, why not just invite all the employees (who might be fired) into a breakroom for a cake, to celebrate the company’s upcoming more-efficient financial situation.
Seemingly coincidentally, there will be a radio / 1980s boombox / vintage MP3 player playing a song.
When the song stops, people would normally expect another song to begin. However, in this case, the employees have actually stumbled into a game of musical chairs (Figure 1), where the reward finding a chair is retain your job.
(The employees that the company does not want to lay off should be forewarned about this “game,” so that they can be sure to grab a chair as soon as possible.)
In this fashion, the layoffs can happen exceptionally quickly, and—since everyone theoretically had a chance to grab a chair—it feels more “fair” than the typical methods that involve employee evaluations, internal politics, etc. This way, no one’s feelings are hurt, and everyone retains a high opinion of the company!
PROS: Brings high efficiency to corporate restructuring.
CONS: May violate the Americans with Disabilities Act: consider how a person who walks with a cane would have a disadvantage in rushing for a chair. Additionally, it is impossible to lay off an employee in a wheelchair in this fashion.
Various governments and organizations have made efforts to reduce the number of firearm discharges by impulsive and/or unqualified individuals.
Currently, by design, a firearm is relatively easy to operate. Unfortunately, this makes it easy to accidentally fire, or for a child to find a gun and shoot it. Additionally, an individual may get very angry in a specific moment (e.g. a “road rage“ incident) and murder someone with minimal contemplation of the consequences.
The proposal is simple: a concerned individual who (perhaps) knew that they were highly impulsive and/or prone to fits of rage could mitigate the damage they could cause by adding a “sudoku lock” to their firearm.
This would be similar to the “you must blow into a breathalyzer installed in your car before you can drive,” which is sometimes used as a restriction on habitual drunk drivers.
As shown in the figure, the trigger could be unlocked by simply solving the associated sudoku.
This same system could also be used by extremely confident hunters to give their prey better odds.
PROS: Provides a built in “cooling off” period for someone who is briefly intensely angry, which should reduce the number of “road rage” shootings. (Unless those people get extremely good at sudoku-solving.)
CONS: Might actually increase the number of irresponsible firearm discharges if people are bored and start playing sudoku on a gun because, hey, it’s right there, why not.
In most aspects of life, positive and negative elements balance out: if a person has an income of $1000, and expenses of $750, then they have a net income of ($100 – $750 = $250).
The only area where this does not seem to apply is in the commission of good / evil deeds. Typically, a person is judged by their most recent style of deed-performing: e.g. “many past good deeds → one recent evil deed” is more harshly judged than “many past evil deeds → one recent good deed.”
Perhaps we can use a sort of “karmic balancing” system to encourage people to do good deeds to “bank up” goodwill for potential future evil deeds.
Although counterintuitive, this might have a positive effect on society, as people try to “save up” by performing good works for the community.
In order to ensure that the good / evil deeds were properly accounted for, we would need to assign each of them a numeric value (Figures 1 and 2).
Although this “karmic balance justice system” may sound outlandish at first, the civil legal system basically already operates in this fashion: if a person has $100,000, and someone sues them and wins $25,000, then the legal system is satisfied as soon as the fine is paid
A person is essentially “immune” to civil cases, fees, and various governmental fines as long as they have the ability to pay out. (For example, a very rich person can, in most jurisdictions, afford an unlimited number of parking tickets, essentially putting them above the law.)
The criminal justice system would probably also benefit from working in this fashion, since many trials could be skipped entirely. For example, if a person had a karma of +3825 and they committed a –714 karma vandalism, then the accused individual might just pay the karmic fine rather than going to trial. (So this is essentially an improved version of the plea bargain.)
This is a good idea for legal system reform. Consult a constitutional scholar today to see what the best steps forward are for this plan! Don’t commit any crimes in the meantime, though, as there’s no guarantee that this system will be adopted in the immediate future.
PROS: Brings the criminal justice system in line with the civil justice system. Encourages individuals to do good deeds (even if for perhaps selfish motives).
CONS: Someone who had accidentally accumulated a huge amount of good deed points (e.g. by single-handedly saving everyone on a sinking ship) might decide to cash out their karmic points by going on a crime spree. This system has no defense against these corner cases, unfortunately.
It’s easily possible to receive an overwhelming number of phone notifications these days. Typically, this is a mix of emails, text messages, multiple messaging apps, and the occasional demanding apps spamming you with notifications that “you earned 10% off your next order!”
It’s possible to silence some of these alerts, but sometimes you still want the alerts, you just wish they wouldn’t arrive so relentlessly.
The solution is extremely simple: add an “hourly notification” mode (Figure 1) that bundles up all the notifications that the phone would have sent you, and waits until the next “00” minute of the hour to send them to you.
It might be a little bit excessive to get a huge number of notifications at once, so these notifications can be bundled together by category. The user would get a single “text message” notification bubble, a single “email” bubble, and so on (Figure 2).
A more notification-averse user could also potentially set alerts for every two hours, or twice a day, or once a week, or perhaps annually on Jan 1.
PROS: Reduces the stress that humans have subjected themselves to in the always-connected “information age” world.
CONS: The user interface for managing this system might be complicated. Should phone calls still ring at any time, or do they have to wait until the hour boundary? Can you still see text messages that arrive, or do you have to wait a full hour to reply? This could have a negative impact on your text-messaging conversational skills.
There are all manner of weird back-scratching products, like bamboo claws, mini rakes, and probably like, dinosaur teeth or something like that. But all of them require specific effort to use, are generally unwieldy, and are socially frowned upon in a workplace environment.
The solution is so simple: just integrate the functionality of a back scratcher with a normal shirt! A shirt could have dozens of bamboo / plastic / metal / etc. spikes on the inside (Figure 1), replicating the functionality of the now-obsolete standalone back scratcher.
Warning: the spikes should not be TOO spike-y, or else the user might end up creating their own wearable iron maiden. Please keep this in mind when prototyping.
Throw away your dress shirts and casual-wear alike—this is the future of torso-based garmentry.
PROS: Improves the humble shirt (which has been almost completely ignored by the sartorial advances of the 20th and 21st centuries).
CONS: Just don’t get it caught in any spinning machinery, and you’ll be fine, OK?
At many companies, large group meetings are a regular occurrence. However, sometimes meetings are unproductive. For example, it might be a situation where only a couple of people run the meeting (and everyone else spaces out), or the meeting participants might includes archetypes such as “jerk who interrupts people” or “yes-man who agrees to everything their boss says.”
It can be difficult for people to change their basic tendencies, but maybe the addition of a “meeting role-play” game would help in the situations described above.
This could be done by assigning people to “meeting roles” randomly: each participant is given a card with a “role” on it, such as:
Person who rambles on and on until they are interrupted.
Quiet person who never says anything unless specifically addressed.
“Consensus builder” who tries to solicit feedback from everyone.
Impatient individual who interrupts anyone after 10 seconds.
Person who over-explains every technical detail.
Skeptical engineer who expresses doubt about any technical proposal.
Many people already fit into one or more of these archetypes, but this card-based system will force people to try out other roles, rather than the one that most naturally suits them.
Ideally, people wouldn’t reveal their actual role, but would let their coworkers infer it from their actions. (Conceptually, this is like the multi-player bluffing game “Werewolf” or “Mafia,” in which players are randomly assigned secret roles to perform without giving away their role).
An alternative approach would be to assign required actions to meeting participants, rather than roles. In this proposal (Figure 1), a person entering a meeting might draw three cards that said, for example, 1) “Interrupt someone inappropriately,” 2) “Agree with a co-worker,” and 3) “Provide constructive negative feedback.”
To encourage people to perform these socially-transgressive actions (e.g. “Disagree with your boss!” or “Rudely say that an idea is bad!”), we will provide some incentive: if a person uses up all their required “meeting actions,” then they are allowed to eat one of the donuts that was, presumably, brought for the meeting.
Anyone who shamefully fails to perform their card-mandated meeting role will be denied donut privileges.
Someone might say “hey, why do some of these cards that suggest negative actions that will prevent a harmonious meeting?” The answer is that meeting participants need to be able to have a productive discussion despite human failings: it’s important to “inoculate” one’s coworkers so that they can productively handle socially-transgressive actions, rather than being shocked by them.
PROS: Could actually legitimately improve meetings!
CONS: Good luck figuring out what to do when you get the “interrupt the head of your company and say that their idea is terrible” card. Is that worth a donut?
We’d like to reduce the alphabet so that we can create a keyboard that can be operated with minimal finger movement. (This already exists in the form of the “chorded keyboard,” but we’re going to solve the problem at a more fundamental level.)
Ideally, we’d get it down to 10 symbols (one per finger), but this might be a bit excessive.
Looking at a standard keyboard, there are about ~20 keys that can be easily reached by each hand.
If we can cut the alphabet down to about 15 letters, we’ll still have 5 keys left over for important “special” keys (space bar, shift key, etc.).
This would let a person keep a hand on the keyboard and a hand on the mouse, and not have to constantly switch. Good for gamers and spreadsheet aficionados!
Here’s our starting point (26 letters):
ABCDE FGHJI KLMNO PQRST UVWXY Z (26 letters)
Immediately, several letters seem like good candidates to remove:
W: replace it with “VV.” VVhat an easy solution!
X: usually replaceable by “ks” or “z” or “ch.” Don’t need it! Eksellent.
Q: “kw,” “k,” or similar. The letter is kvvite unnecessary.
J: Somehow the Romans managed without it by using the “I” and “J” as a single letter. We’ll replace it with the “i” and make people figure it out from context. So the word “join” now becomes “ioin.” A little confusing, but English is already a mess.
Y: Usually replaceable by “ee” “i,” or similar. “Yak” can become “iak.” Yo-yo can become “io-io.” Close enough!
C: Replaceable by a “K” or “S,” except for “CH,” which will need to be represented a new way. How about “KS:” so a “choice” is now a “ksoice.” Questionable, but you’ll get used to it!
Now we’re down to these 20 letters:
ABDEF GHIKL MNOPR STUVZ (20 letters)
Time to get ruthless in our trimming.
Z: Can be vaguely approximated by an “S” or “SS.” So zebra becomes ssebra and zipper becomes ssipper.
F: The “F” and “V” are somewhat similar, so we’ll delete the “F.” People will just have to figure it out—or “vigure it out”—vrom context.
U: Rolled into “O.” So “pull the upper door handle” becomes “poll the opper door handle.” Not bad!
M: Combine it with N. “Temporary measures” becomes “Tenporari neasores.” Could be worse!
P: The “P” can become a variant reading of “B.”
And we’re done! Here are the 15 letters that survived:
ABDEG HIKLN ORSTV (15 letters)
Let’s test our new stripped-down alphabet.
1. If we start with: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog—what a bold choice, full of vulpine zeal.
We’ll end up with: The kvoick brovvn voks ionbed over the lassee dog—vvhat a bold ksoice, voll ov volbine sseal.
2. An example from Hamlet (“brevity is the soul of wit”): Since brevitee is the sool ov vvit, and tedioosness the linbs and ootvvard vloorishes, i vvill be briev.
3. And the beginning of the the U.S. Constitution: VVe the beoble ov the Onited States, in order to vorn a nore bervect onion, establish iostice, insore donestic trankvoilitee, brovide vor the connon devence, bronote the general vvelvare, and secore the blessings ov libertee to oorselves and oor bosteritee, do ordain and establish this constitotion vor the Onited States ov Anerica.
The colored keyboard area below (Fig. 1) shows a possible layout for our 15-letter English.
Here’s the full translation command, which should work on any Mac or Linux system:
Hundreds of years ago, a cool looking numeric system was invented for writing numbers from 0–9999 in a single cryptic rune: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cistercian_numerals. In Figure 1, we see how two such symbols could represent a phone number.
By making use of these strange-looking numbers, ”boring“ mundane activities—like dialing a phone number—can become more exciting (Figure 2). This will allow people to appreciate how “magical” it is to (for example) be able to video chat with a person thousands of miles away
Look for this feature in your next cell phone system update!
PROS: Gives people more of an appreciation for the things in life that they take for granted, which might increase overall life satisfaction.
CONS: It’s possible that angry villagers will think you are putting a curse on them, and you’ll be attacked with torches and pitchforks. Use this new user interface judiciously!
Workplaces will occasionally have “countdown clocks,” like “X days without a workplace injury” or “Y days until our product is launched.”
Sometimes, it’s hard for companies (and employees) to take a long-term view of things—everyone is just focused on the next financial quarter’s profits, or short-term stock value.
In order to encourage add long-term perspective, we’ll add some more “countdown” clocks for more far-reaching events. These could even be speculative, like “5 years until the planned manufacturing expansion in Southeast Asia.”
We could even track the time for more distant events. For example, “214,621,870 days (best estimate) until the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupts.” See Figure 1 for another example.
A version of this could also be used at restaurants, to increase table turnover. A neon sign reading “FORTY SEVEN MINUTES AND THIRTY-THREE SECONDS REMAINING TO EAT DINNER!” would be helpful to encourage patrons to eat efficiently and free up their table for other diners.
PROS: Encourages people to take a long view of their company’s future. May also help increase restaurant table availability.
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