We Got It! For readers who weren't at the recent eMetrics Toronto Summit and who may not have read either NextStage Receives First Patent or "...programmable device..." and "...how a person is thinking.", NextStage received the first of several patents on our Evolution Technology. This patent was for the core aspects of our technology and there are already several other patents in the queue.
It has been interesting to me -- almost another study, in fact -- seeing people's reactions to what we do and the patent. I've never hidden what we do or how we do it, nor have I been shouting it from the rooftops. During NextStage's seven year (at this point) run I've been criticized for not revealing NextStage's client list, for not publicly sharing how we do what we do and for not giving our technology freely to others (among other things. Did you know I'm obnoxious, arrogant and disliked?)
Let me explain NextStage's Evolution Technology as I did in Toronto because several people have talked with me about it since then. Two comments that come to mind are "You really dropped a bombshell on us" and "That'll put a lot of us out of business." Neither was my intention. I do understand that Evolution Technology's ability to understand human psychology without asking questions, without polling visitors, without having people fill out forms, without using other companies' databases, etc., is mind-stretching to many people.
I'll start with some quotes from NextStage's IP attorney, "...a programmable device...", "...Evolution Technology determines how a person is thinking." and "...while NextStage is currently focused on digital media and web site activity, this disruptive technology also lends itself to a host of other areas...".
What's a "programmable device"? Most people are unaware of how many devices in their everyday world are programmable. For example, a stereo (CD changer, radio, etc.), office, home and cellular phones, voicemail systems, computers, printers, home and business HVAC systems, lighting, fax machines, exercise equipment, watches, video and still cameras, websites, TVs, DVRs, VCRs, MPG players, microwaves, stoves, ovens, refrigerators, sleep number beds, cars planes, self-service checkouts, mall kiosks and store help stations, ... I think you'd be hard pressed to find something not programmable these days. The levels to which these devices can be programmed varies and still they are all programmable. One that I didn't mention and that I think is important is weaponry. Lots of weapons have programmable features these days.
What about "how a person is thinking"? Right now, as you're reading this, you're thinking. The fact is people can not not think. It may be conscious, it may be non-conscious. It might be day-dreaming. Your thoughts can be focused on a problem or just wondering about dinner. Making plans or remembering past times. Everybody thinks.
The even more interesting thing is that most people aren't aware of everything going on in their heads at any given time. That "going on in their heads" is significant because that's the "how a person is thinking" part of NextStage's patent.
Humans have the ability to know how someone else is thinking and feeling with a high degree of accuracy. All social creatures learn to pick up the cues that others give without knowing they give them and there's nothing "ESPish" involved, it's a simple survival requirement. We know when someone is sad, when they're happy, when they're tired, upset, so on and so forth. We respond with comfort, shared joy, offers of rest, whatever the situation and our abilities dictate.
What Evolution Technology does is give that level of empathy, sympathy, understanding -- ie, suitable response, ie "whatever the situation and our abilities dictate" -- to any programmable device. Any programmable device can now know that a user is sad, happy, tired, upset, ... And that's just the low hanging fruit, so to speak.
Once you understand that men think differently than women then you appreciate that Evolution Technology can determine if someone is male or female. Recognize that people of different ages think differently then you understand that Evolution Technology can determine someone's age.
Just as you can. Without asking questions. That's the major part, I think. The technology doesn't need to ask questions, have people fill out forms, query other databases, add software or appliances to their computer or (in the case of websites) drop cookies. Consider yourself sitting at the food court in a mall and watching people walk past. You can tell their gender and make a good guess of their age without asking them any questions. You can probably tell quite a bit about them if you put your mind to it. Are they happy? Proud? Tired? Worried? Lost in thought? Thinking about what they'll buy? Distracted? Engaged?
You do all this with a vast experiential memory of everyone you've ever interacted with and gauge that memory against what you're seeing when you watch someone walking through the mall (what NextStage calls "interacting with their environment"). Evolution Technology does exactly the same thing and in almost the exact same ways. As I write this, it has an experiential memory of everyone who's ever interacted with it in a lab or on the web since 1991. When someone interacts with an Evolution Technology enabled website, Evolution Technology starts comparing how that person is "interacting with their environment", ie, navigating a web site, and makes some very accurate predictions about whether visitors are engaged, distracted, thinking about buying, comparison shopping, their age, their gender, just about anything they're thinking about while they're on a web site based on its experiential knowledge.
Well, that and enough mathematics to...well, to understand human thought.
There are other things you do with your experiential knowledge that you might not think about. You pick out gifts for people and know if someone will like something or not.
Well, Evolution Technology can do that, too. It can look at marketing material and know whether or not the marketing material will work with a given audience or not. And how to change it so that it will work with a given audience. Or what to do to increase that audience. Or segment it.
One thing marketing does a lot of these days is create imaginary friends and imbue them with lots of traits and attitudes. Marketers don't call these creations "imaginary friends" of course, the term they use is personae. Evolution Technology has the ability to create personae, too, and give them not only traits and attitudes but also rich explanations of why those traits exist, why their attitudes are their attitudes and how to change them, how they make decisions, what makes them remember this thing and not that thing, why and when they'll buy this and not that.
So much for the obvious. Evolution Technology has applications on the internet, yes, and that was never its original intention. I originally designed it as a learning tool. One of its strongest uses is its ability to quickly determine how someone is thinking then modify educational material to best match that individual's learning and memorization styles. This guarantees that what is learned is retained and that the learner will learn in such a way that the information is easily actionable by them.
Another of its early uses was (and remains) the ability to read something and determine the original intent and thinking of the author. Did a student plagiarize or have someone else author their paper? Is a business partner being honest and dealing fairly? Are workers working in the company's best interest? Those were easy and obvious problems to solve.
Now stretch a bit. Some of the following list is totally doable, we simply haven't gotten around to them yet. Others are blue-sky for now.
What about search engines that know what you're really looking for and return truly relevant results?
What about online help systems that know what you're really trying to do and provide exact information on the required steps?
What about online dating services that know what you're really looking for in a partner and provide real matches that meet your real needs.
What about websites that can determine someone's real intention when they get on the site? Being able to recognize predatory behavior and alert authorities that children and others may be in danger, for instance? Or being able to recognize that someone is visiting a NASA or sports event site for a school project as opposed to a terrorist act?
What about cars that know you shouldn't be driving and call you a cab instead? Or that the person behind the wheel hasn't been given authority to drive and simply don't start or safely shut down?
How about aircraft that know the pilot's flying under duress or no longer at the controls and automatically request fighter escorts, or alert control towers that immediate intervention is needed?
How about weapons that know the owner is no longer holding them, or that only operate defensively, never offensively?
Or weapons that can report whether an act was self-defense or not. Or lie detectors that can really tell the truth.
Take a few moments and think about everything around you being able to respond to you with compassion and understanding, not just the dumb mind of a machine. Makes you think, doesn't it?
I hope so.