Category Archives: Futurism

The wrong way to do driverless cars

I’m a great supporter of driverless cars. I think they have the potential to dramatically change the world, making much better use of resources, revolutionising mobility for all and radically improving our towns and cities.

Paradoxically, however, I am not so keen on Phillip Hammond’s announcement that the UK aims to be the first country in the world to permit them on public roads without any “safety attendant” on board.

I’m just not convinced that the Government has developed a solid appreciation for the benefits of technology. After all, this is the country where more than half of schools don’t even offer a computer science GCSE, according to a report from the Royal Society.

In fact, I think this has, like it seems everything these days, more to do with Brexit than anything else.

Having alienated the conventional motor industry who  are warning of the dire consequences of leaving the customs union, it probably seems like a really smart move to become the go-to place for manufacturers to be testing and developing self-driving cars, which the smart money says are the future. This way we can secure our place in world when conventional car manufacturing relocates to the Continent.

But recklessly throwing off safeguards simply in order to pursue narrow short-term economic objectives could set the development of self-driving cars back decades. The implementation of self-driving cars is multi-facetted and complex, as much from a societal as a technical perspective. It will require careful collaboration across countries and disciplines, as well as exceptionally well calibrated communication with the populations they are supposed to be benefiting. None of these things seem to particularly in the UK’s skillset at the moment.

We’ve already witnessed the outcry over a fatal accident where a Tesla which was driving failed to see a lorry crossing in front. This is in sharp contrast to the coverage given to the 1.25 million people estimated to be killed by human-driven cars each year around the world. And this was in a case where there was a clear responsibility on the driver to keep alert and supervise if necessary.

The first (pretty-well inevitable) fatality by a self-driving car could quite easily set off a backlash which sets the development of this transformational technology back decades. And that would be a tragedy, not least for the millions whose lives would have been saved by the technology in the interim.

AI-powered robots and the future

This is a post over which I have been pondering for quite a while. While the debate rages on daily about whether AI (specifically AGI) is humanity’s great saviour or the biggest existential threat we all face, several stories which have emerged over the past few weeks seem to me to cast some light on the issue.

The first inspiration for the post was a Click Podcast from BBC World Service which had a number of items to do with robotics.

One was news that autonomous robots with “socially aware navigation,” are being road-tested by MIT researchers. What the researchers found was that it wasn’t difficult to make a robot which could autonomously avoid obstacles, but that once you throw humans into the mix life becomes much more complex.

The researchers found that humans in fact act quite unpredictably and follow a complex set of social rules like keeping to the right, passing on the left, maintaining a respectable berth, and being ready to weave or change course to avoid oncoming obstacles. And they do all this while keeping up a steady walking pace.

By using a kind of machine learning they taught their robots to navigate the world when among humans the way humans do, especially important if we are increasingly to share our environment with various helper bots, delivering goods or helping in hospitals and care homes, for example. And plenty of other work is going in to making humans and robots rub along more smoothly.

Another item on the Click Podcast addressed the same issue, but from a different perspective. This time it was training children to see robots as a natural part of their environment.  Cozmo, a tiny robot toy with a “brain” and personality, is like a robot version of the far more irritating Tamagotchi (which demanded constant attention or it would die0. Cozmo is a bit cuter and more socially rewarding and promises to offer expanding options for interactive play for children. In early tests young children quickly became used to the presence of the robot and treated him almost as a human play companion. This is the “get ’em young” approach to robot acceptability.

So now we have robots which navigate the world the way humans do, can communicate more effectively and which have human-like emotional responses.

The next step – at least in the University of Edinburgh – is to give some economic agency to a robot. In this case it’s a coffee machine called Bitbarista. The aim was to create a coffee machine which could explore attitudes to ethical trading and autonomously respond. The machine, which had its own Bitcoin account and a connection to the internet, asks students to rate the important of various attributes of the coffee they want – taste, ethical sourcing, price etc – and on the basis of the crowd-sourced information adjusts its future orders of replacement beans accordingly.

In addition the machine uses some of the Bitcoin it earns on each coffee to pay students to carry out various maintenance tasks for it, such as refilling water or beans.

In this case, though it clearly has some agency, the coffee machine has only a Raspberry Pi for a brain so it unlikely to become too carried away with itself. Maybe not so, though, as we move on to more powerful implementations such as self-driving cars.

It strikes me making robots economic players is a pretty silly thing to do. The philosopher Nick Bostrom famously warned of the difficulty of setting objectives for AGI which wouldn’t backfire on us. His thought-experiment explored how even a seemingly innocuous goal – such as making paperclips – could go disasterously wrong and end up destroying the world.

People are already thinking about the new kinds of models that fully self-driving cars might enable in the world. Will we still need (or indeed want) to own a car if we can summon one immediately from our smart phones? And why have just human-owned and run companies owning fleets of cars? Why not self-owning cars? People are already seriously suggesting this as a clear possibility.

But giving an AI-powered robot a capitalist goal framework would be a terrible plan. The idea starts out being quite sensible-sounding. Why not give the car a bank account (Bitcoin or otherwise) and enable it to use the money it makes to book itself in for servicing, pay for upgrades and so on? And, if it finds it is in great demand, it has been suggested it should be allowed to buy a second car and become a fleet. Why not?

Because paperclips, that’s why not.

Imagine – the car starts out being the best self-driving car it can, arriving when summoned, taking the most efficient route it can, ensuring it hovers in the right places to make itself as useful as possible.

Pretty soon, though, prompted by the desire to earn more money so it can buy more upgrades or buy other cars for its fleet, it figures out that blocking other cars is a more efficient way of acquiring more money more rapidly. So it starts sending false reports to other cars on the road to ensure it gets the best pick ups.

Other self-owning cars respond and bingo, you’ve re-created the Wild West. What was going to be a utopia of cheap, ubiquitous, convenient transport becomes a nightmare.

I draw a few conclusions from all this. First, there is so much work going on that AI-powered robots are a racing certainty – it’s not “if”, it’s “when”. Second, the current debate about AI (humanity’s saviour or its destroyer) is too polarised and strident to be particularly useful. What’s needed is far more active discussion of how to make this all work well. Its is abundantly clear to me that simply considering the advancements in AI and automation (like self-driving cars) another opportunity for the current capitalist model simply won’t wash. Technological unemployment is inevitable (see Calum Chace’s excellent work on what he has dubbed The Economic Singularity for an account of why) and without quite radical change enough buyers won’t exist for the goods and services which the AI promises to bring. Therefore, we need a new plan. As Calum puts it in a blog post:

We should aim for a world in which machines do all the boring stuff and humans get on with the important things in life, like playing, exploring, learning, socialising, discovering, and having fun.

There is a lot to be optimistic about. But political and economic orthodoxy needs to catch up fast with the technology.

The role of language

I was struck this week by the sharp contrast in language styles adopted by two of the world’s great tech leaders – Tim Cook and Elon Musk.

Tim Cook’s keynote at the WWDC  was full of the kind of language we have long associated with Apple – full of “incredible”, “great”, “changing the world” – all the while talking about new operating systems for the iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV and the Mac itself. While undoubtedly impressive, I’m not sure the epithets really fit the bill…

Elon Musk, on the other hand, seems to have invented a new language to deal with the highly experimental and ground-breaking work he is involved in. Take the goal of SpaceX to develop re-usable rockets. There is clearly a lot to learn as this has never been done before. Therefore every failure is a step on the path to learning how to achieve reliable reusability. With the Ironman allusions and fan worship it is nye-on impossible for social media, or indeed main stream media, to deal calmly with the failures as well as the successes. Hence this:

“Explosion” or “crash” smacks of failure. “RUD” speaks to a more reasoned, experimental and scientific approach.

This more measured approach to a complex world, as well as the humour, is surely worth adopting far more widely.

The future is coming faster than we think

 I’ve just finished belatedly reading An Optimist’s Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson. I say “belatedly” as it was written in 2011 which wouldn’t normally be a problem except that this is about accelerating future technologies (and why they are going to be good for us).

It was a very good read, but already there are signs it is getting dated. Take this example. He’s meeting Ray Kurzweil who is telling him about exponential growth in technologies, which he argues can allow us to make pretty accurate forecasts of the future. Noting that some critics believe Kurzweil is either delusional or mad he discusses the forecasts which Kurzweil made in his 1999 book The Age of the Spiritual Machines about the technology which would be available in 2009. Kurzweil himself says, of the 108 predictions, 89 turned out to be correct, 13 are “essentially correct”, three are partially correct and two are 10 years off.

Stevenson makes his own tally. He concludes he got nearly two thirds right. Of the rest he put half in the “sort of right” category (it came true but not quite as Kurzweil anticipated).

The remainder are ‘wrong’ but only in that Ray was optimistic on the time frame. For instance, critics tend to leap on his prediction that ‘translating telephone technology (where you speak English and your Japanese friend hears Japanese, and vice versa) is commonly used,’ which hasn’t happened.”

Except of course that by the time I’m reading this it now has come true.

And this brings me to my point. When you are in the middle of things it is often very hard to accept that advances are happening quite as fast or quite as disruptively (a point Stevenson makes, too). It’s all too easy, if you earning a good wage working for a large, profitable company, for example, to dismiss warnings such as this, also from the book:

“John is speaking with some urgency now. ‘The old-age companies don’t know why they have to run faster in order to lose more slowly,’ he says, laughing. ‘All the practices of those companies are exactly the practices that keep you from being able to engage in the world of fast-paced innovation. They have routines and beliefs built on the assumptions of stability. Almost any company that’s more than twenty years old isn’t built right for this. In fact, I would argue that companies that are five years old aren’t ready either.’”

That fact that ‘John’ is John Seely Brown, formerly director of PARC (the Palo Alto Research Center) which famously invented laser printing and the mouse, should give us pause. The fact that in five years Kurweil’s “wrong” forecast has turned out to be true should also.

As Stevenson himself says: “I have to make peace with the fact that this book is already a historical document. It’s less a posed portrait, more a blurred snapshot”

The era of emulation and what it means for us

Robin Hanson
Robin Hanson

What is the next phase for humanity? Robin Hanson set out to answer this question in a thought-provoking and lively talk to London Futurists on March 19th.

He argues that humanity has been through several distinct economic growth phases each of which has been “exponential” in character. The first lasted nearly 200,000 years from the moment Homo Sapiens first emerged as hunter-gatherers. These early humans were vastly superior to the animals they replaced, successfully exploiting their environment through the use of organisation and tools. The next economic era began with the arrival of agriculture about 10,000 years ago and brought about a huge acceleration in development, with efficient use of labour and larger and more sophisticated societies. This ended with the birth of the third era, the industrial era, which started around 1760. Again, an exponential increase in economic output and efficiency. This gave way to the computer age in which we currently are. The exponential periods of these eras has been becoming shorter and shorter with world GDP doubling roughly every 15 to 20 years today.

What, Hanson asked, could create an economy which doubles every week or month?

And the answer he comes up with is – robots.

What Hanson means by “robots” is true general artificial intelligence and he argues there are three ways to do this: better software, a comprehensive theory of intelligence, or emulating a human brain.

And it is his belief that the most likely scenario is that we will first develop the capacity to emulate a human brain and that this should happen “sometime in the next century”.

All we need, he argues, are “many parallel computers” which are capable of scanning a human brain, modelling every brain cell type and recording what we see and then “running the model”.

This doesn’t mean we need to understand how a brain works – he thinks we may be centuries away from this. But we would be able to run what he calls “EMs” – short for emulations.

If we had them there would be a new age – the age of EM.

It is this new era, then, that he sets out to describe. Running in software, EMs are effectively immortal -“like houses and cars, if we choose”. But it’s unlikely EMs will choose to be – much more likely that they will spawn short-lived versions of themselves to carry out repetitive or one-off tasks and then shut these down when they have served their purpose.

The new age will have new morals – EMs will probably be OK with termination and respooling.

Partly this is simply a result of obsolescence – “Currently if the economy doubles every 15 years your skills as an individual become obsolete in that time.” This is why we retire and let the next generation learn the next set of skills. “In the world of the EM faster emulation means faster obsolescence.”

They will run faster because, even though these new consciouses are essentially human brains, “human brains are parallel so more hardware means more speed.” And they will take up very little space as they only really need to inhabit robot bodies when they need to do something in the physical instead of the virtual world. Hanson believes most of the time they will inhabit a purely virtual environment.

Hanson sees the birth of EMs as inevitable – they will be developed to speed economic development. And in the early days humans will own the EMs – much like slaves were owned. But just like slaves, some EMs will “buy” their freedom and from there they will quickly make up more and more of the economy (which may now be doubling in a matter of weeks or days).  Because they are so cheap to create (an EM could be copied millions of times at very little cost) and because they cost so little to run he says wages will effectively fall to way below human subsistence wages.

Humans will be eclipsed. The whole human race will retire.

Whether that retirement is a happy or a tragic one is very much up to us, he believes, as we will be quite rich enough as a whole to ensure a good outcome, although those riches will be extremely unequally distributed.

But either way, we might be retiring into a very different world. “Robots don’t need nature” he says. “They may choose to save nature but don’t need to.”

And if we are thinking all this doesn’t sound too good, and that we humans are bound to resist, he doesn’t really buy the “robot wars” scenario, either. “There wasn’t a farmer-industry war during the switch to the industrial era.”

So if this new era could begin soon, how long will it last? Hanson believes that because EMs will be running so fast the whole era could last just a couple of years. After that, maybe they will develop true software AI which will spawn the next era – who knows….

Robin Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University.

Future Shock

There was a very perceptive article in the current issue of the Economist which argued, basically, that Moore’s Law is in sight of breaking down. The result, though, is maybe not what you might think. Progress may not necessarily just get slower; it is more likely to be much, much more unpredictable.

The reasons, according to the Economist are because these days there is so much more that is important than just the single chip in a single computer, among them the role of software, the cloud and new, specialised architectures optimised for particular tasks.

I think we can see some of this unpredictability unfolding in front of our eyes as Google’s Go-playing computer AlphaGo has beaten Lee Sedol, ranked number 4 in the world, in the first two of their best-of-five series. Go is seen as a special challenge to AI because it is very much more complex than chess and a “brute force” approach won’t work.

The really interesting thing about this match is that it was generally thought we were 10 years away from building a computer which could win at Go. AlphaGo surprised the world back in October last year when it won against Fan Hui who is ranked 633rd in the world. What has taken Lee Sedol by surprise is how much better the program has become since – we was apparently quite certain he could beat it.

Hold on to your seats – we could be in for some really quite startling surprises in the coming months and years.



The industries of the future

The question Alec Ross set out to answer at the RSA today was: “If the last 25 years shaped by Internet, what comes next?” Industries of the Future His book The Industries of the Future addresses the question more fully, but for the audience today he focussed on two examples: robots and AI, and genomics.

He began, though, with central thesis: if land was the raw material of agricultural age and iron the raw material of the industrial age, then data is the raw material of the information age.

“We now live in the age of zettabyte, he said. “90% world’s data has been produced in the last two years.” There are now 16bn internet connected devices and by 2020 that number will have grown to 40bn. “Harvesting of actionable business or medial intelligence from this data will create the trillion dollar industries of the future.”

But now for the two example industries of the future.

” The cartoons of the 70s will be the reality of 2020s,” he argues. One of the key advances is the fact that we finally seem to have cracked the problem of robots grasping – a surprisingly difficult task, he says. The other is the advent of “cloud robotics”. This means robots don’t have to be packed with hardware and software if they are connected to the cloud. “We don’t have to invent millions of very clever robots.”

He uses the example of Foxconn, the Chinese giant responsible for vast numbers of iPhones and Samsung Galaxies. Foxconn is a poster child for globalisation with 973,000 employees in China. But the ceo says he’s not going to hire any more people and instead is now buying $14k robots. He argues humans are “CAPEX-light, but OPEX-heavy” whereas robots are the opposite.

This is the start of a profound trend. “Cloud robotics coupled with rise of AI will mean a move to non-routine and cognitive work.”

The second industry of the future he focussed on is the commercialisation of genomics. “It has been 15 years since the first mapping of human genome and finally we are now within two or three years” of really beginning to reap the benefits he says. Diagnostic test are now in development with are over 100 times more sensitive than MRI scanning, holding out the prospect that we could have an annual blood test which could detect virtually all cancers at stage 1, when they are eminently curable, he predicts.

However, all these advances come with “promise and peril”.

“Tomorrow will be better than today for most of us. But you have to be pretty clever to navigate your way through with the pace of change increasing all the time.”

There were other topics which came up in the Q&A on which he had salient views:


Cyber security: “Weaponisation of code is the most signification development since the weaponisation of atoms. The difference is weaponisation of code is much easier. Once it is done it can be copied. I have a very dark view – the threat from cyber weapons is closer than that of nuclear weapons.”

The importance of gender equality:  “There is a correlation between women on board and economic performance,” he said, citing a study from the Peterson Centre for International Economics.

Economics: “This the the key question,” he said.  The problem dynamic is “bounty and spread”. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for $1bn it had only 20 employees. Kodak, which went bust at pretty much the same time, had 120,000 employees. When we create these internet billionaires we have a “corresponding obligation to use the resources of the plutocrats to avoid creating a violent under-privileged underclass”.

R&D: “Those states and societies (like Russia) which have dialed R&D down are saving money in the short term but killing themselves in the long run.” China, he says, is being smart. “They believe they missed out on the commercialisation of the Internet and they are putting a spectacular amount of investment in genomics and clean tech” so they don’t miss out of these coming revolutions.


Network Society: the coming socio-economic phase transformation

The world is headed for a big transition, says David Orban, entrepreneur and Singularity University faculty member, speaking at a London Futurists lecture in London on February 6th.

“Technology created humans,” he says. “And we continue to use reason to advance technology for humanity’s benefit.” But the key to the future wellbeing of society lies in practicing open science and having an open society, he says.

David Orban
David Orban

Historically we are always “shackled to moral norms by limitations of technology” he says. For example we had child labour because our technology wasn’t good enough to run industrial revolution mills without them. We had slavery because our agricultural and engineering techniques were running behind our economic development.

Now we destroy the environment because it is deemed necessary in order for economies to grow and citizens to consume. Once these ills become untenable, necessity drives alternatives, he says.

Widespread social and cultural change only happens once a robust technology platform underpins them

The networked exponential technologies which are coming next are going to profoundly disrupt the Nation State, he argues.

Solar panels are a good example. When people put solar panels on their roofs they make lots of small decisions, each of which doesn’t cost much. When the State makes energy decision for the country it is done by one big, long term centralised project (think Hinkley Point). The opportunity to call the future wrong is vastly more in the second case than the former.

Another example is 3D printing. This can stop waste from centralised manufacturing getting it wrong but distributes power to the consumer.

And growing food hydroponically in the basement of apartment blocks, reduces waste by bringing food production close to the consumer, using exact quantities of nutrients and light and heat, and growing year-round.

And there are lots more examples, he says:

  • Health sensors keeping people healthy
  • MOOCs educating people wherever they are
  • Crypto currencies reducing the cost of transactions and challenging the power of the banks
  • Even Airbnb competing with security agencies through “a self-reinforcing reputation system which expels from the network if breached”

All such examples are inevitably portrayed as passing fads, he says, but they are in fact part of unstoppable trend.

In this environment exponential technologies lead to exponential uncertainties, he says. There is great value for those whose get it right.

The next trillion dollar companies are being born right now

What has to happen next, he argues, is for computers to be allowed to make decisions by themselves. The world is rapidly become too complex and fast-moving for humans to be the only decision-makers. The LHC, for example, throws away 99% of data itself because it knows it is of no value and the human scientists would become overwhelmed. “Self-driving cars need to make their own decisions.”

Dumb machines must lose and smart machines must win

The idea that it is essential for humans to have the last word was fatally undermined when Andreas Lubitz decided to deliberately fly Flight 9525 into a mountainside, he says. “Planes must be able to disobey and save their passengers.”

But for computers to make decision we need to make them moral. We have a “cosmic responsibility to adapt and face our challenges” he says. We need a global network of ideas which can evolve scaleable solutions. First there will be a science of morality then we will need to engineer morality into our machines. It is, he says, inevitable.

The promise of the fully networked society is great, but the outcome isn’t a given.  “It is up to us whether this phase transition will be peaceful or not”, he says. The current levels of inequality will be just the start unless we meet the challenge to change society so that everyone can enjoy the coming benefits. “We cannot continue vilify the unemployed as we do now,” he says, because in the future we all will be unemployed.

David Orban is an entrepreneur, a member of the Faculty of, and Advisor to the Singularity University, and the Founder of Network Society Research, a London based global non-profit.

Flying car at last?

The thing most disappointing to life-long technophiles is that the flying car we have always dreamt of never came.

In many ways we far exceeded the dreams of futurists past. The modern smart phone is vastly more powerful and capable than anyone could have predicted and the modern internet is a phenomenon way beyond prediction.

Some things which were predicted did come to pass – Dick Tracy’s wrist radio (Apple – and Android – watch) and Star Trek’s universal translator (Google translate) for example. But no flying car.

At least not until now. At CES this week Chinese company EHang showcased the EHang 184, a human-sized drone designed to take it’s owner at 60 mph for 23 minutes completely automatically.  Obviously there are many, many hurdles to overcome before anyone will actually be able to fly such a device in open sky. But it it does seem to me that this might just be part of the future.

EHang 184
EHang 184 human-sized drone

You only have to watch a movie like The Fifth Element to realise the hopeless impracticality of allowing humans to drive things in three dimensions. But maybe it’s the coming of self-driving cars which will finally allow the flying car to become a reality. If computers can reliably and safely drive us around in two dimensions, why not let them branch out into three. The frameworks necessary to allow self-driving cars to become a reality on our roads would, on the face of it, seem relatively simple to extend to the corridors of sky, too.

So, although EHang seems ridiculously optimistic at the moment, maybe the company is on to something.


The radical potential of Blockchain

Niki WilesBlockchain, the technology which underpins Bitcoin has the potential to disrupt many large and powerful industries believes Niki Wiles.

Speaking to London Futurists in a session in London today Wiles, Lead Data Scientist for the London-based digital media agency, 360i said Blockchain solved some of the biggest problems with today’s centralised services.

Big disadvantages with centralised services such as lack of transparency, resilience, security and cost, would all be resolved if Blockchain technology was used.

The big problem which has traditionally mitigated against decentralised systems was the risk of double payment, he said.

The pseudononymous programmer or programmers Satoshi Nakamoto solved this with the Blockchain protocol in which everyone on the network effectively has a copy of every transaction in sequence and there is no central repository.

“Paying with Bitcoin is like shouting in a crowded room,” said Wiles. “All transactions are seen by all.”

Despite the fact that Bitcoin has taken most of the limelight he belives the underlying technology can disrupt basically any centralised system.

DNS allocation, currently the responsibility of the central ICANN organisation is one such example. Moving DNS allocation to a distributed system would defend websites against censorship as well as make DNS much less vulnerable to attack.

In fact he sees censorship-resistant communication as of the killer apps for Blockchain. There are already services like Bitmessage which offer decentralised P2P encryption.

Decentralising cloud storage and computing could bring real benefits too – more security, less downtime, lower cost., for example, aims to be many times cheaper than Dropbox while Zennet is hoping to do the same for computing resources. Because there are no ‘sysadmins’ they should be much more secure, too.

Blockchain should prove effective in the sharing economy he believes – La’Zooz, for example is Blockchain ridesharing.

Social networks could also migrate. Twister is a decentralised social network similar to, you guessed it, Twitter.

There is even a project called Bitnation looking to see what aspects of the state could be delivered on the platform.

There are many other example – decentralised energy networks powered by solar, p2p drone deliveries, decentralised smart contracts, the list goes on.

IBM is even working on Blockchain for powering the Internet of Things.

There are problems however. Blockchain technology is very resource hungry. It takes a lot of computing resources to run the encryption algorithms at the core of the technology and because the whole database is distributed it is very bandwidth-hungry, too.

As a example Bitcoin can currently only process seven transactions every second – hardly a rival for Visa yet.

However, Wiles believes Moore’s Law is on the side of Blockchain. “Decentralised systems are likely to become cheaper and more cost-effective.”

And when they do the financial industry is ripe for change. Blockchain’s strength in transparency and the automatic enforcement of rules could be a real game-changer in a global financial system which is riven with issues. “Financial audits could be done automatically, for example,” says Wiles. “Counterparty risk could be eliminated by all banks sharing one ledger based on Blockchain.”

And because the technology is fundamentally very cheap with very low transaction costs the world’s unbanked could find a solution with just their phones.

It could even lead to the formation of Decentralised Autonomous Organisations – as Wikipedia describes them  “corporations run without any human involvement under the control of an incorruptible set of business rules.”

Things are moving fast is the Blockchain world and in many directions. The next two or three years should show which of these directions is the most promising.