It’s easy to live a sedentary life in today’s world of modern conveniences.
Unfortunately, this is not ideal. While there are already apps that remind you to periodically stretch or walk around, people tend to just dismiss the notifications if they’re busy.
What is needed is an app that has “teeth” and can motivate people to really get some exercise.
The idea is that the phone would hold your ability to respond to text messages “hostage” until you walked around to its liking (Figure 1).
This kind of phone-enforced demand could be as simple as a requirement to hold the phone in a specific way (to show that you’re standing up / stretching / whatever), or as complicated as a multiple-waypoints jogging route (Figure 2) that the phone requires you do go visit (thanks to the GPS, this would be difficult to fool).
The blocked services on the phone could also include other apps, such as the web browser / videos / podcasts, and more.
If the phone can require the user to walk to various places, perhaps this could also be part of the “sharing” economy: the phone could refuse to unlock until the user performs some commercially-valuable action, such as;
Delivering groceries from a store to a nearby neighbor
Walking someone’s dog on a specific route.
Going door-to-door on a route in support of a political candidate or religion of the phone’s choosing.
If humans are going to be ruled over by cruel machines in the future, this would be a good way to ease into it.
PROS: Allows a phone owner to get exercise and stay fit.
CONS: May cause the future from Terminator 2 to occur.
Sometimes, one must make a difficult decision in life, or convey bad news to someone.
This can be stressful!
But what if these hard decisions could be outsourced?
With this new system, if you find yourself in an unpleasant situation while messaging someone, you can press a button on the program to simply outsource the remaining communication to someone else.
An employer wants to fire an employee. They text [AUTOFIRE] to that employee, and the HR process for firing that employee is automatically handled by a remote professional.
Someone wants to get divorced. They text[AUTODIVORCE] to their spouse, and a remote professional handles the jurisdiction-specific details.
Your nephew’s hamster died, but you don’t know how to convey this bad news. Text [AUTOHAMSTERDIED] to your nephew, and a qualified team will take care of everything.
No more need to stress out about difficult things—just let an emotionally detached algorithm and/or remote employee handle it!
See Figure 1 and Figure 2 for examples.
Fig 1: Some people hate to let down a date. Problem solved thanks to TECHNOLOGY! Right: animated gif re-enactment of a conversation where [AUTOGHOST] might apply.
Fig 2: No more awkward interactions with an employee you want to fire. Only works in jurisdictions with at-will employment. Don’t try this with unionized labor! Right: animated gif re-enactment of a conversation where [AUTOFIRE] might apply.
PROS: Makes difficult communications (and just-slightly-difficult communications) incredibly easy!
CONS: Some people say it’s not a great idea to outsource all human interactions to an algorithm, but what do they know!
Phone woes: when you use text or call someone, there’s no way to differentiate between the following scenarios:
Low priority (not time-sensitive): “Let’s chat, if you have time.”
Medium priority (time-sensitive):“I just showed up at the crowded convention center, but I can’t find you.”
High priority (important and time-sensitive):“Your car is about to be towed, you have 2 minutes to move it!”
Unfortunately, all three of the scenarios above result in the same effect on the recipient’s phone: it rings / vibrates in the same manner no matter what.
So an individual at a meeting will get the same low-priority phone alert from “Are you free for lunch?” as “A derailed train car is leaking flammables over by building #3! Run for your life!”
“Call priority” proposal:
We can fix this by allowing the caller to indicate how important their message is.
This could easily be accomplished by:
Making the default “call” or “text” button generate a low-priority message.
Allowing a long-press on the call button to bring up a new set of options for time-sensitive or extremely-urgent messages.
Fig 1: Example of a phone call (or text) button that would also allow a user to (optionally) generate a more emphatic ring on the other end if the call is especially critical. The bubble below the “CALL” text would appear on a long-press of the call button.
There could also be an “extremely low priority” option for text messages that would cause the phone on the other end to not ring / vibrate at all—while this initially seems useless, it is actually similar to sending an email, and would allow people to send frivolous text messages (“so I just saw the director’s cut of snakes on a plane”) without worrying about annoying the recipient.
The full set of options for calls / texts would be:
Normal priority (regular ring / vibration)
Time-sensitive (more emphatic / longer ring and vibration)
Urgent (extremely insistent ring / vibration)
Unimportant (doesn’t ring or vibrate at all, so it has a very low level of “demand”—like an email)
Fig 2: A phone responding to three different calls. From top to bottom: 1) normal, 2) time-sensitive, 3) urgent.
The art of conversation:
Since a call is interpreted by many individuals as “hey, stop what you are doing, I need to talk to you right now,” there could be a “call” option that would simply send the recipient a short text message with an “accept / decline” call button.
This way, instead of feeling like calling someone is an imposition on the other individual’s time, it could be seamlessly integrated into the texting system as a polite request. Everyone wins!
Fig 3: A phone call could be automatically converted into a polite text message, as seen above.
Regarding individuals sending all messages at maximum priority:
Although it would be possible for a person to always send their messages as “urgent,” a phone would have a button to “downgrade” all messages from an individual to regular priority.
Additionally, telemarketers could be forbidden by law from using any of the higher-priority messaging modes.
PROS: Makes phones more convenient and encourages people to feel more comfortable making voice calls.
CONS: Might make it even harder for telemarketers to reach you.