Multiple Discovery: when others have the same idea you do


It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.
Jean-Luc Godard

I had a few ideas over the years. I took them nowhere but I’m thankful someone else had those same ideas.

2008: Social profile

“hi5 is for teen gossiping. We need something focused on networking. I should have a profile where I could introduce myself and show off my interests in a clear list (hobbies, artists, movies, books, etc.) I should be able to add friends to my network or make a search based on my interests. That way I can look for like-minded people.”
» I called it ilook4 in 2008.
»» That year, I signed up to something unknown in Portugal called Facebook.

Facebook evolved. Today, the profile’s interests are gone but hi5’s gossiping is everywhere.

ilook4 cover

2009: Tablet


“Detach the monitor of a laptop, make it touch sensitive, and give it the processing power of a netbook. You could carry all your songs, all your books, all your documents, be productive on the go and take handwritten notes. Every student would want one.”
» I had no name for it in 2009.
»» Apple called it iPad in 2010. Microsoft called it Slate PC in 2010.

The image above dates to the end of 2009 and was part of a rumor about an Apple tablet. That quote was my pitch to Microsoft. Yes, when I first heard about Microsoft’s Slate PCs I phone called Microsoft Portugal and asked when such device would come to Portugal. They didn’t even know what I was talking about and gave me the Marketing’s email. I sent an email with the mind map below and an explanation of the idea. I didn’t care about royalties I just wanted that someone created a similar device. I never got a response and when Apple released the iPad I gave up. Today I’m a proud Nexus 7 owner.


2018: Price comparator for groceries

In my country we have several brands of local supermarkets. Their range of products is similar but their prices are different. Here’s the idea: as a customer, I create a basket of products and an app automatically fetches the prices of those products and tells me which supermarket is the cheapest. Alternatively, I set my favourite supermarket and when my products are on temporary discount then I receive a notification.

KuantoKusta, which is a price comparator for expensive purchases, launched a groceries version to compare a baskets of products across multiple supermarket brands. They did not implement all the features we thought though. Then Continente, the main supermarket brand, created their own app. Game over.

2021: Personal stock market

Some companies are in the stock market. You can buy stocks, whose value goes up and down according to the market’s perception of their value. It’s a burocratic process and only some companies are entitled to have stocks. Nowadays some businesses are based on individuals, ie. youtubers, influencers.

What if there was a platform that gave each person their own stock. If you like Youtuber X, you would buy some of their personal stock. How much is each unit worth? The market will tell. Great, you own stock, now what? Maybe that Youtuber shares some of the profit with their shareholders, just like normal stock. Maybe he will let whoever has 51% of their stock decide what clothes he wears. If you are a clothing brand, that will interest you.

In 2019 someone wrote an article with some very similar ideas. Then two weeks ago BitClout was created, which is basically everything I imagined, using their crypto.

2021: AI Chatbot that resembles a deceased person

I saw the success of Deep Nostalgia from MyHeritage. People were delighted to see their sepia and B&W photos of their deceased parents and grandparents now in colour and moving. Saudade and nostalgia take control in that moment. So if people have this strong emotional reaction to a moving photo, what if they could chat with that person? Can we teach an AI to read messages from a (deceased) person and mimic how they write? Once we have that, can we teach the AI to synthesise the person’s voice?

Once again, Microsoft went ahead of me and patented that technology. There’s also a Black Mirror episode about it.

I’m not angry or sad that my ideas were “stolen” because they weren’t – we just had the same thoughts at the same time, and that’s called Multiple Discovery. I would never accomplish what others did. What matters to me is that being copied is the sincerest form of validation. My self-esteem appreciates to know that those were good ideas.