Over the next few weeks, Playboy.com’s Picks 2012 will provide you with the year in review, from movies to music to viral trends, political and celebrity scandals and even ideas. We’re showcasing the year’s best across the board and on tap this week: Ideas.
Check out Playboy.com's Picks for Movies, Music, Top Viral Trends, Celebrity Scandals, and Tirades.
Sell the Pill Over the Counter
In a society so seemingly bound and determined to keep its head stuck in the sand regarding matters of S-E-X, it’s not surprising to discover that access to birth control is hopelessly inhibited. Doctors require women to undergo full pelvic exams once a year before re-upping prescriptions, and many insurers only see fit to distribute the pill in one-month quantities at a time. What emerges is a paradigm that encourages inconsistency in procuring prescriptions and in taking them, which anyone who’s had any experience with this knows is not something that is particularly suited to inconsistency.
Solution: Sell the pill over the counter. The majority of oral contraceptives available today have long been FDA approved for over-the-counter sale, while annual pap smears have not only been shown to be superfluous but detrimental in terms of producing false-positives that can lead to expensive follow-up testing. As for it being a step forward for a society feigning equality, well, women would no longer need that literal and metaphorical doctor’s note to make a basic civil rights–type decision.
Scientists, or whatever, people who study this sort of thing, have estimated that by the year 2050, the world’s population will have increased by almost 45 percent, and the majority of that population (roughly 80 percent) will live in urban centers. The problem? Those urban centers will have to expand into the countryside to accommodate the rise in population, consuming farmland (which will most likely have already been abandoned due to changing weather patterns, rising costs, tighter industry regulations, etc.) and leaving everyone in the lurch when it comes to acquiring their legumes.
Solution: Vertical farming. This is not a new concept, but the first commercial vertical farm opened in Singapore this year, signaling the turning of a theoretical solution into a practical one. Not only would vertical farms eliminate the necessity for vast amounts of land for crops (proponents suggest a 30-story building with a 5-acre base would produce the equivalent of 2,400 acres of traditional farmland), but they reduce transportation costs involved with shipping crops; are protected from inclement weather (floods, droughts) and global warming and can be farmed year round; reduce use of and exposure to harmful chemicals like pesticides; and, by converting the methane released naturally from the crops, vertical farms could supply their own energy.
Right to Be Forgotten Laws
There is little doubt that technology is evolving faster than our court systems; after all, the codification of laws is a bogged-down bureaucracy, tempered by precedent and probable cause, while the internet is an entrepreneurial Elysium, only bound by the limits of our own imagination (and coding abilities). But our legal systems will have to start learning quickly; with the rapid dissemination of personal information getting easier (online banking) and more expansive (interlinked social networks) by the day, technology and the law are on a collision course, with privacy and protection being the driving forces behind the crash.
Solution: Right to Be Forgotten Laws. They’re already being enacted in Europe, much to the displeasure of information traffickers like Google and Facebook. Basically these laws would allow citizens to request the removal of any information about them online (whether they put it there themselves or not), and these corporations would have to comply unless they can prove that said information is both true and used for either legitimate journalistic, artistic or literary purposes. That includes de-indexing (in Google’s case) any websites that have reposted said information, right down to the mention of one’s name. Naturally, these companies contend that they’re merely platforms, not censors, and that imposing that responsibility on them would require an astronomical increase in costs, not to mention threaten the kind of freewheeling, free-speech ideologies the internet was built on, and they’re right on both counts; turning Google and Facebook into the internet police would require totally new infrastructure and regulators, but more importantly, it would be cause for a dramatic shift in how we use and disseminate information on the Hyperwebs.