Sunday, June 5, 2016

It's All In The Timing, Phil

A couple of years ago now, Phil Bowermaster organized a project involving contributed ideas from others; the below is a re-wording of my suggestion that didn't make the submission cut. The principle objection I can remember being raised was, in so many words, "Why would Jeff Bezos do any such thing? What's in it for him?" What seemed a foregone conclusion to me then, wasn't at all obvious to Phil (or anyone else, come to that) a year-and-a-half ago. With Jeff Bezos' recent announcement regarding off-planet production and heavy manufacturing plans, I'm prompted to dust this submission off, re-tool it in ways large and not-so, and see if anyone notices. Herewith, My Proposal:

How Jeff Bezos Can Hire Humanity.

[last edit made to this document on January 14, 2015 by Phil Bowermaster]

The basic idea being suggested here is that Jeff Bezos (of fame) spends the money necessary to develop an online game quite similar in concept to that developed by the US Army to teach potential recruits the conceptual basics of soldiering competencies.  From the Americas Army wikipedia page (, details of the game’s progression to gradually more difficult actions and capabilities needed by the individual player suggests a model for how such a game format could teach players how to successfully conceptualize, operate and/or maintain complex machinery remotely, both individually and in coordination with other players.  One possible mechanism whereby players could test their skills development would involve modifying at least some warehouse operations to permit remote operation of material handling and loading machines (basically modified fork lift trucks). By performing stipulated and rigorously measured portions of the functions of that company's order fulfillment operations, in cooperation with the on-site human staff already locally employed, a real-world process development laboratory could be created at little added expense.

As the Americas Army game experience makes clear, it becomes a fairly straightforward (if by no means easy or cheap) development process to create a game format that applies the same compendium of instruction concepts for use within progressively more complex and radical environments.  Like underwater archaeology and marine salvage.  Like air, land, sea and even extra-planetary search and rescue operations.  Like orbital clean-up operations in association with other private companies as well as government extra-planetary agencies. Like orbital mining and refining operations (not to push the point too hard).  Like lunar (or undersea) exploration and development.  Like orbital construction and tourism.  Like continued exploration and colonization of Mars and other orbital bodies within our Solar system.  As a straightforward extrapolation of related-seeming technologies, exploration and resource acquisition operations in the asteroid belt might be developed from terrestrial undersea or deep underground mining operations skill sets learned in the game.  

In the near-immediate time frame: universal language translation programs developed by a consortium of bi- or multilingual individuals working remotely through dedicated server and data storage devices managed and marketed within the game environment.  Physical security monitoring and response operations so that individuals can be employed to remotely carry out traditional security observation and emergency response tasks on a continuous basis and, not incidentally, earn a living through the game environment while developing their more technical skill sets.

The game would be structured in several layers of play experience.  The initial level would test player skill and general knowledge levels and supply the means to begin further developing those through game interaction.  By doing so, players can “teach themselves” to transition to the next level of play.

The second level would offer individual players the means to transition from simply playing the game, to performing game functions in an occupational setting.  Initially these would be in the Amazon test-of-concept order fulfillment center or the security services suggested earlier in this document, but these and future players would move on to other, more technical, types of work as quickly as their ability permits and opportunities can be made available.  These opportunities do not necessarily require a purely business motive; scientific research and public service operations both come readily to mind as alternative possibilities for player development through remote operations performed through the game interface.

For those players who wish to develop a more general academic knowledge base, the game interface could be linked to any of the host of online education portals that exist. Documenting continuing education is already part of corporate structure, incorporating that into the game format shouldn't pose too excessive a problem. Additional, more specifically focused, levels of play are certainly possible, but itemizing a list of that nature exceeds my limited editorial skills. Suffice it to say that I envision the game process described here as being a species of digital skilled trades hiring hall and training school to develop the host of technically skilled employees for an industry that doesn't actually exist yet that Jeff Bezos will be needing to hire around the world to remotely construct and operate the orbital facilities he has described elsewhere. Ultimately, all of the above tasks (and more, I'm confident) performed by humans, working part time on multiple projects and jobs, in remote cooperation with as-yet uncountable other humans, designing, building, operating and maintaining machines and facilities big and small for use in every conceivable environment that human science enables human or machine access to.  And all of those people working directly for, or as a result of being trained by, Jeff Bezos (well, one of his companies).

Alternatively, we can just sit around between rioting stewing in our frustrated juices, watching the planet's accessible resources be further consumed, while we await the promise of fusion AI to save/doom us all.

While I envision this type of work being comfortably performed from a space in one's home smaller than an ordinary American bathroom (about 15 cubic meters or so - 2 x 3 x 2.5 meters roughly), one of the obvious early investment and partnership opportunities arising from such a planet-spanning effort is construction of a location in local neighborhoods that provides the residents with a game participation site outside their private home or apartment. There seem to be a number of vacant former book stores available for re-purposing in recent years.

One of the most pressing challenges humanity currently confronts is how we will collectively transition out of the undeniably collapsing Industrial Revolution social and economic model we currently experience.  The game concept presented here is one possible mechanism for achieving that transition on a widespread and minimally disruptive basis.  It remains only to develop the platform necessary to spark the growth of that process throughout the human species.

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