Maximizing the value of worry: Snowden’s new project

At a recent conference, I was talking with Ed Snowden about the range of data that's now available, not just to the government, but by extension, to servers in the cloud. We got to thinking about just how much worry is wasted.

Combine this with Google's work on the self-driving car,

and with the increasing use of wearable computers,

and home monitors and videocams…

It turns out that we've been spending countless hours worrying about the wrong things.

It's pretty clear what the next opportunity is. Today, Ed has given me the okay to announce that he has received $15 million in funding to launch a new startup: (not ready for sign ups yet, but he wanted to announce this at the beginning of April because the space is about to get crowded). He and his partners already have a spokesperson.

Worry is the very first technological solution that maximizes the benefit of mankind's oldest task: anxiety.

The Worry app is a front end to a sophisticated, cloud-based trouble-recognition system. Using Bayesian probability as well as advanced Fourier transforms and Markoff chains, the backend of Worry will monitor and calculate what really matters—the things you can't control that somehow are a better use of all the time you're spending trying to change things merely by thinking and worrying about them. (I didn't understand all of this at first either, but Snowden is pretty smart, and explained it to me).

Imagine taking everything the web knows about you, including the content of your web history, your emails, your reading habits and more… then integrating that with real-time video cameras and GPS tracking… then adding to that what your friends, rivals and colleagues are saying about you (not just in public, but behind your back).

Using this flow of data, the Worry app computes the things you ought to be worried about. For example, instead of needlessly wasting time worrying about a random event like being bitten by a brown recluse spider, the Worry GPS system can point out that based on where you are, you'd be better off worrying about a different, unpreventable event like being killed by a fire hydrant flying through the air or perhaps by an angry rooster wielding a knife. The Worry app will alert you to that, which dramatically increases the effectiveness of your worrying. 

Even better, the new Worry watch (sorry, I should call it wearable tech) will alert you in case you stop worrying. During worrying downtime, the watch will vibrate, indicating the most likely uncontrollable scenario on your horizon, so you can begin cycling through your anxiousness. 

Instead of spending time fruitlessly fretting about things that are extremely unlikely to happen, or worrying about whether your friend Sue was offended by what you said last night (he looked it up: she wasn't), now you can experience failure in advance on issues that are actually more likely to happen. Worry about the right stuff. 

Your sleepless nights will now be more productive, because you can be sleepless about the right things.

In addition to Mr. Snowden, board members include pioneers Cory Doctorow, Stewart Brand and Pema Chodron. Matt Cutts has agreed to leave Google to run their SEO efforts. Stay tuned!

Look for them to launch in about a year…