Creating a “Courier Commons” Proof of Concept

In this episode of Potentially Genius, the Tomorrow Lab collaborates with science fiction author Karl Schroeder. Karl writes about alternate futures and products from those futures, incorporating technologies like blockchain, cryptocurrency, GPS location, and Internet of Things connectivity (IoT).

Inspired by some of the ideas in Karl’s writing, he came to the Tomorrow Lab team with an idea for gamifying the trips that people take day-to-day, and rewarding them for transporting a box for someone else along the way.

This concept reminded me a lot of a Bruce Sterling story that I think first appeared in Wired in the 90s before cellphones were ubiquitous. In the near-future story, connected chains of people used an app that followed and coordinated their movements so that one person would be told to pick up a package at point A. They would go on their normal route and then another person on their normal route would intersect with them at a point B and the package would be handed off. And on and on across town until the package was finally delivered. Each person participating would be given a credit (which, IIRC, could then be used to have your one’s own package delivered). Again, this was way before ubiquitous smart phones, sharing services, and the like, so the story was very eye-opening as to what networked-connected, location-aware hardware might be able to do.


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