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Brilliant ideas are a dime a dozen. Commercially viable ideas are rare. Sorting them requires the Wisdom of the Many

The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, explains why free markets and democracies work (video summary).

Here are examples of brilliant ideas that are failures:

Disruptive innovations do not come from the establishment. Noth:

  • Edison, Bell, the Wright Brothers, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs never finished college. 
  • We only have so much time. Time spent studying what others already know hinders learning what might yet be learned.  
  • The herd (Wisdom of the Many) is wise at sorting, but not at changing. Fortunately, many will risk much to try new ideas for the Many to sort.

What is required to have innovation is a free market with known cost of regulations and delays so individual can offer choices and the Many can sort them.
This is the lesson of the Internet. Under Federal monopoly we had a century of rotary telephones despite the fact that the technologies were understood and their progress stifled by government monopoly. 
History of restoring free markets to communications networks:

  • 1918, July 24: By Executive Order President Wilson monopolized communications. Executive Order 2594 titled “Authorizing the Secretary of War to Take Possession of Certain Telegraph and Telephone Systems and to Operate the Same” monopolized communications until the Federal monopoly was declared unconstitutional in 1982. Nearly a century of rotary telephones with no substantial innovation allowed.
  • 1926 interview with Collier’s magazine: Nikola Tesla, “When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, …. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television…. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.
  • 1927: First video call. AT&T President Gifford in New York talked on a video phone with Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover.
  • 1942: Hedy Lamarr patented the technology of WiFi and Bluetooth. The Navy rejected it until 1957-62. BlueTooth did not commercialize until 1997.
  • 1963: Touch-tone telephone technology was created.
  • 1968: Mother of All Demos documents most aspects of the Internet and modern computing. Start at minute 30 for 4 minutes to watch the “mouse”, video conferencing, clicking on URLs, etc….
  • 1973: Cell phones were available.
  • 1979: First pirate (not approved by Bell Labs) “touch-tone” telephones entered the US market. They were illegal to put on the AT&T network. Despite being illegal they began to replace rotary telephones.
  • 1982: Federal courts declared the Federal communications monopoly unconstitutional and initiated a multi-year de-monopolization plan. Rotary dial telephones were still very common but being displaced by “touch-tone” phones.
  • 1983: Frank Caufield invested in what would become AOL and the shift to commercializing the Internet began with bulletin boards.
  • 1985: AppleTalk was released.
  • 1991: High Performance Computing Act shifted the Internet the commercial control using commercial standards. The boom was triggered. This was one Senator Gore’s “Information superhighway” bill.
  • 1994: Today Show, “Alison, what is the Internet any way” marks wide spread public awareness of the digitizing of communications.
  • 1999: Apple invited me on two national tours to show how Macs could be used in business. My enterprise software had been “Best New High Tech Product of the Year” in Minnesota. At that time I tried to get Steve Jobs to help build JPods. He loved the idea of the Physical Internet® and mixing digital and physical delivery, but thought Segways could break the regulatory barriers and JPods could not. Eighteen months later Apple released “iPods.”
  • 2007: Apple introduced the iPhone. This was the first digital phone on digital networks. SmartPhones amplified the Internet by 10X.

We can speed deployment of the Physical Internet®,  the digitizing of transportation and energy networks. We know:

  • 188 times greater efficiency than roads is practical. Warren Buffett on the 470 ton-mpg efficiency of freight railroads. This is 188 times more efficient than moving a person with the 25 mpg efficiency of the Model-T on roads.
  • 3,000 times greater safety than roads is practical:
    • Theme park thrill rides have an injury rate of 3.7 per million, roads have a serious injury rate of 11,200 per million.
    • Morgantown’s PRT has had 5 minor injuries in the half a century since President Nixon’s daughter opened this first grade-separated network of self-driving cars in 1972. In that same period, roads in America killed 1.8 million Americans with 2.3 million serious injuries per year.
    • Wuppertal suspended trains carry 25 million passengers per year with one fatal incident since it opened in 1901.
  • Sunshine can power JPods networks:
    • Thomas Edison:
      • 1910: “Sunshine is spread out thin and so is electricity. Perhaps they are the same, Sunshine is a form of energy, and the winds and the tides are manifestations of energy… Do we use them? Oh, no! We burn up wood and coal, as renters burn up the front fence for fuel. We live like squatters, not as if we owned the property…. There must surely come a time when heat and power will be stored in unlimited quantities in every community, all gathered by natural forces. Electricity ought to be as cheap as oxygen….”
      • 1931: “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait  ’til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
    • 8 years of data on the solar collectors designed for over JPods guideways gather more energy than is required to power the networks.
  • There is no technical limitation on self-driving cars.

The ‘general welfare’ Paradox: “Coercion and Liberty are required to create the general welfare.

  • ‘If men were angels, no government would be necessary.’ But men are not angels. To minimize war and crimes governments are granted sovereignty, a monopoly of violence to coerce compliance with law.
  • Innovation is a compliance failure. Innovating the “general welfare” requires two aspects of liberty to intertwine in a Darwinian Crucible of creative destruction:
    • Tolerance of Disruptive Minorities offering choices.
      • There are few Disruptive Minorities as tiny and disruptive as inventors, an “obnoxious individual” (Federalist #10) creates a better choice that eclipses entire industries.
    • Tolerance of the Wisdom of the Many sorting those choices in free markets and free speech.
      • Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is not invisible, just tiny. It is the vast accumulation of tiny acts of liberty by each of us as we choose between choices.
      • The aggregated wisdom of all of us, with each of us acting in our own self-interest, is wiser than the wisest of us at choosing between choices.
  • Securing liberty from the nature of government to coerce and monopolize, the US Constitution Divided Sovereignty where ‘Ambition must be made to counter ambition.’ We retain all powers not enumerated as sacrificed, grant state governments sovereignty to coerce crimes and civil disputes restricted by the republican form of their written constitutions, and grant the Federal government limited and enumerated powers to coerce war and paths to war.”

Since The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1916, government highway monopolies developed at every level of government:

  • Denying liberty to innovate sustainable alternative networks.
  • Violating Preamble, “post Roads”, and “No Preference” clauses to only “promote the general welfare,” not tax to “provide” projects desired by the powerful.
  • Ignoring the 21 Presidential veto messages that enforce the Divided Sovereignty of the Constitution relative to “internal improvements.”
  • A century with the 25 mpg of the Model-T. Until declared unconstitutional in 1982, the Federal communications monopoly similarly mandated rotary telephones. Once liberty to innovate was restored, the Internet replace rotary phones.
  • 45% of 400+ ton-mpg railroads being replaced by 25 mpg roads. 
  • Blocking access to Rights of Way for alternatives to road networks since President Nixon sent his daughter Tricia to open the Morgantown PRT in 1972.
  • Massive traffic congestion. 
  • Resource depletion with US Peak Oil in 1970. 
  • Foreign oil addiction as oil demand exceeded US oil production. 
  • Pollution from profligate consumption of oil so significant it has tilted the balance of nature into Climate Change. 
  • Ignoring 10 of the last 10 Presidents’ calls to action to power America within domestic oil production (~1/3rd cut in oil use) to mitigate a threat to national security.
  • Oil-wars since 1991 to secure access to foreign oil. 
  • $31 trillion in Federal debt increasing in tandem with the cost of oil imports and funding oil-wars.
  • In the Dallas Fed’s survey of 153 oil companies in Sept 2022, 85% see a collapse of affordable oil this decade. Without immediate action, this is likely a cascade into war as warned by The Joint Forces Command and is occurring in Ukraine.
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