A proposed system for ideas jumpstart

What do you need to come up with an idea for an interdisciplinary project? Maybe deep expertise in all the relevant disciplines? No—for just the initial idea, you shouldn’t need this level of knowledge. For example, if you have a very general knowledge of what machine learning or genetic engineering can do, you can have an idea of how combining both approaches can be applied to the problem you are interested in. Maybe your idea will be wrong, and actually not work at all, and maybe it will produce results that are not worth the effort. But you can’t know that until you either gain the necessary expertise, or discuss your idea with the specialists in each field.

If a project requires a lot of different skills (and big funding), you might just give up. Well, yeah, you have an idea that sounds cool to you. But if you want to see it implemented, you need to talk with many different specialists. You need to be really passionate about it to overcome the social awkwardness of discussing your potentially crazy idea with a person whom you barely know (or don’t know at all). Finally, even if you succeed at this step, and are assured that there are no obvious flaws and your idea actually may work, you need somehow to persuade people to work on it (or get money somewhere to fund it). Of course, you must do all of this with no guarantee of success. Start-up accelerators, funding applications, etc. can significantly help, but still, you will need to do lots and lots of work. If you see all this in front of you when you think about implementing your idea, and you are not possessed by it, most likely you will just mention it in occasional conversations with friends without going any further.

How many wonderful projects are never born because of this barrier between idea and implementation? I don’t know. Imagine the world where, as soon as a seemingly good idea comes to your mind, you just put it to the black box (let’s call it Ideas Implementer, or shortly I.I.), and, if the idea is indeed promising, it gets implemented. Would such a world have more projects with a positive impact? The naïve answer seems yes. How many more – I don’t know, and I even don’t know how to know it. Can we create I.I.? In some sense – yes.

The mechanism besides I.I. can be quite straightforward. You come up with the idea. You submit it to a website and tag areas of expertise required to evaluate both whether the idea can be implemented and its potential impacts (both positive and negative). Experts got notified of new submissions, and provide short evaluations. They can also identify the need for additional expertise in other areas. If the idea successfully passed all experts (i.e., all parts can be successfully implemented, no potential significant negative impact and significant potential positive impact), the idea goes to the level of “looks promising”. At this level, people who are interested in it discuss and brainstorm it, gradually creating a whitepaper or grant application. The idea goes to the level of “ready to start implementation”. Some people commit to working on it, if funding is provided, and the initial search for funds (grant application, crowdsource, startup incubator, or any other way) begins.

How difficult is it to create I.I.? The technical details (the website and the system allowing proper notification of experts by tag and moving ideas from one stage to another) seem quite straightforward. The more complicated part is the community building: people willing to provide their expertise and those potentially interested in participating in a new project.

The only way to estimate whether such a community can be built is to start asking around, trying to understand whether people would like to participate. As initial steps, I am writing this post and asking people who are interested in the idea to tell me what you think. Would you be interested in providing your expertise or do you have ideas that you would like to submit? Or maybe you would like to pick up some interesting project to actively work on it? Do you have any suggestions on how the design of I.I. itself can be improved and what is the best way to actually implement it (yes, implement the implementer)? Do you know about any project similar to this, or such that their experience is important for us (I can think about StackExchange, maybe Wikipedia and potentially business incubators).

If you are interested in it you can join the Slack channel where the discussion is going to happen https://​​join.slack.com/​​t/​​ideasimplementer/​​shared_invite/​​zt-ywlc72f5-I~_HLy7B1dkla00y8~Yhzw as well as write your comments here.

UPDATE: To clarify, rewarding authors and experts will be quite complicated, so I was thinking about it on a purely volunteering basis (so in the initial stages it is non-profit). Then, if the group of people willing to work on the project was formed, they may turn it into a business project. If the initial author of the idea is in the project, he may get something, otherwise, no—the idea is already donated, no donations back.