Personal Computer–>iPod–>iPhone–>The Next Big Thing: Cyrano

My Somewhat Tongue-In-Cheek Candidate For The Next Killer Product

By David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)

“Big things” do not spring full-blown from nothing. They are almost always iterations of something that has gone before.

The IMSAI 8080 pointed the way to the IBM PC. Apple’s failed Newton was a precursor to the iPad. The Motorola flip phone was the silverback gorilla to the homo sapiens of Apple’s iPhone.

In the same vein, Siri and the Amazon Echo are the predecessors to, the ancestors of, the quantum shift that will be Cyrano.

In my career as a writer I’ve “invented” several products — the Trident Electric Fork, Wordbuster, the world’s first solar-powered fountain pen, the Confidential Adviser (Get Sane At Warp Speed), the talking, music-playing, hydrogen bomb 2.0., but all of these devices pale in comparison to my candidate for The Next Big Thing, something that I call “Cyrano” after the character Cyrano de Berjerac in the play of the same name.

In the play, Cyrano decides to help the tongue-tied Christian woo the fair Roxane. One evening, while she is standing on the balcony above him, Christian declares his love to Roxane. Hiding in the shadows beneath the balcony, Cyrano de Berjerac whispers Christian’s lines to him which the dolt dutifully repeats with great success.

Right now, you can start a sort of conversation with Siri, Echo or Google and get answers to certain specific, factual questions. They are the primitive ancestor to what will become Cyrano. Here’s how it will work.

The most basic part of Cyrano will be a small earpiece similar to that worn by Secret Service agents and Seal Team operators. It will connect with a base station via Bluetooth, which in turn will be connected to a super-advanced, cloud-based, AI system.

Like Echo, Cyrano will always be listening. Unlike Echo, Cyrano will not wait to be asked a question. It will instead monitor everything you say and everything that is said to you and, like the Cryano in the play, it will secretly and pro-actively whisper advice about what you should say and do in response.

To use an age-old example, let’s say you’re at home and your wife enters the room and asks: “Does this dress make me look fat?”

Cyrano is, of course, monitoring the conversation and “he” immediately whispers, “Tell her, ‘Nothing could ever make you look fat, sweetheart.’”

“Nothing could ever make you look fat, sweetheart,” you immediately tell her.

“You’re so sweet, but, really, what do you think about this dress?”

Cyrano whispers, “Ask her, ‘Do you like the color?’”

You repeat the question.

“I’m not sure. I do like red but now that I think about it, maybe this shade is a bit too bright.”

“Tell her, ‘You’ve always had great color sense’ then shut up.” You do it.

After a few seconds, she says, “You’re right. I’m going to look for something in a dark blue” and she leaves the room. You go back to the game. Disaster averted.

The possibilities for Cyrano are endless. Suppose you’re in a meeting. Everyone has their own Cyrano up and running. Now each participant is, in essence, the mouthpiece for their own iteration of Cyrano.

Stupid comments disappear. Lame thinking is cut off at the pass. Banalities are left unsaid. Foolish ideas die before they are given voice. Instantly, the meeting’s average IQ shoots up by at least thirty points.

How could there be any sexual harassment or instances of a hostile work environment when a Cyrano is censoring every remark before it is given voice? Misunderstandings spawned by flip comments will melt away.

There will, of course, be some slight down-sides — an inevitable brief hesitation which people will call “the Cyrano Pause,” will occur while each person listens to their Cyrano’s whispered advice.

Now and then subjects will misspeak or forget some of the words, but Cyrano will notice the error and prompt them to say, “Sorry. What I meant to say was . . . .”

And there will be certain personality types who are too egomaniacal or stubborn to meekly accept their Cyrano’s thoughtful suggestions.

From time to time some tortured soul will shout out, “Shut up! Shut up!” or “I’m not going to say that!”

While uncommon, these embarrassing outbursts will occasionally occur and when that happens the others in the room will nervously glance at their shoes or out the window until the tirade ends. Then they will follow their own Cyrano’s sage advice which will be to pick up the conversation where it left off as if nothing had happened.

Most of the time the speaker will hang his head in embarrassment and then join in the charade, though sometimes the group’s lack of response will trigger a further outburst, something like, “Didn’t you hear what I said? What’s the matter with you people?”

Sometimes a mentally unstable person will blurt out, “Don’t you see what they’re doing to us? Are you just going to just let these things run our lives?”

Their Cyranos will, of course, recognize the speaker’s mental distress and put in an immediate call for emergency psychiatric counseling. After the individual has been escorted from the room and given calming, intravenous medication, the meeting will continue without further interruption.

Such minor inconveniences will be a small price to pay for the benefits derived from the mass adoption of the device. Imagine its effect on Congressional hearings.

Each witness and each Congressman/woman will be expertly advised every step of the way by their own Cyrano. The quality of both the questions and the answers cannot help but be massively improved.

And consider Cyrano’s effect on the judicial system. Every bird-brained lawyer will be instantly transformed into a modern-day Perry Mason while the trailer-park-refugee jurors will gain the wisdom of the ages, all thanks to Cyrano.

Think about how your life will improve when you no longer say the stupid things your puny brain urges you to blab. Your love life will instantly blossom when you are transformed from the doltish Christian into the suave de Berjerac. Your marriage, previously teetering on the brink of collapse, will become as solid as a lead elephant.

Just the improvement in the quality of the dialog between police officers and the subjects of their attention will justify the development of this amazing technology.

When you think about it, you realize that Cyrano is nothing less than the fundamental next step in human evolution. While not a biological enhancement to the human species it will become a technological improvement to the human brain, a device that will amp-up human intelligence by at least twenty or thirty percent.

Of course, it will need to be universally available. A successful life would quickly become impossible for those without access to Cyrano’s wise counsel. We don’t want the world to be split into the Cyrano-haves and Cyrano-have-nots. We will need to mobilize charitable organizations into making sure that even the poorest peasant in some remote jungle has a Cyrano connection.

There will also be the issue of what, if anything, to do about those people who refuse to fully embrace the technology. As adults, of course, that will be their right, but what about their children?

Should parents be allowed to deny their offspring access to this vital improvement in human evolution? How will little Johnny navigate the dangerous currents of adolescence without a Cyrano to guide him/her past the shoals of schoolyard taunts and dating faux pas?

For the sake of the child we will need to prohibit rejection of the Cyrano technology until the individual has reached the age of consent. When he’s eighteen little Johnny will be able to “go commando” if he wants, but until then his proper socialization will require that he have a Cyrano to help him to adulthood.

Imagine a world where everyone has his or her own super-intelligent Cyrano to guide their every thought, word and action — Utopia.

–David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)

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David Grace

David Grace

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Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 16 novels and over 400 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.