Novel and Original: Different Things

I never thought much about this before looking into solving the problems of patents with AI...

...novel and original ain't the same thing.

In terms of value: novel >>> original

In terms of frequency: novel <<< original

All nice and simple like a good old fashioned invisible hand would prefer.

Sliced another way and a little more subtle...

Novel IS ALWAYS original.

Original IS RARELY novel.

If you want to apply than info to yourself: your original idea very likely is not novel.

(Beyond that, if it is novel, it's likely obvious.)

Some examples.

1) Late Night Talk Show Jokes

For International Women's Day late night talk shows all made original jokes.

Samantha Bee

Jimmy Kimmel

Stephen Colbert

All are original.

All are obvious—women can get overlooked—therefore none are novel.

These writers generate tons of novelty with tremendous consistency which is why I subscribe to all their shows and how I knew about this example.

Most human ideas fall here: original and obvious.

2) The Alternator

Driving with Chuck in the greater Dallas Fort Worth area sometime in the 1980's I had an idea.

As we cruised along I thought about the wasted energy in the front wheels of his rear wheel drive car.

Why not turn the non-power-driven wheels into generators and pump the energy back into the engine?

A car expert, I asked Chuck.

He explained engineers already did it one better with the flywheel and alternator diverting energy loss even when standing still. [Or whatever's accurate. Long time ago and all.]

My idea was original and I would argue non-obvious, however not novel.

Folks already designed and implemented a better solution.


One of the funniest, most clever persons in my lifetime, Chuck emerged from the womb with an Alaskan work ethic and the self awareness of a 53 year old Senior Vice President at G.E.

By his first birthday he probably studied the Encyclopedia Britannica while working the night shift at an Ace Hardware.

The likely scenarios in which this conversation took place...

1) Both 14, him driving his father's camaro. With permission, mind you.

2) Both 15, him driving his mother's hand-me-down El Dorado-ish bohomoth.

3) Both 16, him driving his brand new, that year, Camero, the one he bought with the money he saved working 20 to 50 hours a week after school since age 13.

3) Examples of Novelty

Less Novel Car silhouttes. - via Adrian Hanft's The Zombie-mobile

More Novel 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe

Less Novel So good!

More Novel The Time Machine

Decades before Apple "innovated" a gentleman named Dieter Rams began designing products Apple would steal, as great artists do.

More Novel (left - Dieter Rams of Braun)

Less Novel (right - Jony Ives of Apple)

Great artists do not steal. more

Fosbury Flop


Get honest with yourself.

Is your idea more Old Navy than Coco Channel? More Carlos Mencia than George Carlin?

  • It's a dating app for herpetologists!
  • But theirs is blue and ours is blue-green!

Sorry. Your idea very likely is not novel.

Want even more difficult news?

You, human, need to get progressively more novel or AI/R will replace you.