When I moved in to my apartment, I was in awe of the touch screen microwave built in right above the stovetop. It’s like living in space, I thought, this is the future. My friends noted the advanced technology as well, impressed with the multi-layer preset functions and the bright, emerald green display remnant of pretty much every navigational screen on the USS Enterprise. Outwardly, it was something out of science fiction, but inside, sadly, it was still just a regular, nutrient-sucking microwave.
In today’s rat race for the greatest, fastest, micro-est advancements in modern convenience, it’s hard to imagine still being unsatisfied, but I am. With every new upgrade, from wearable technology to the option to move to Mars, and never, ever return, I still find myself sitting in stand-still traffic on the freeway, staring enviously out the window saying, where’s my self-driving car?
I’m not on my own in this, the dreamers are out there this very minute, dreaming up laser guns and time machines and miracle drugs that bring the mostly-dead back to perfect health. The only problem is they’re working in the entertainment industry; the science only has to sound plausible, it doesn’t actually have to be supported by a stupid, little thing like physics. But I’m a believer, which means I revel in the fantastical while readily choosing to ignore the inconvenient practicalities.
So, in the name of prioritizing, here are my top 5 currently fictional technologies that I think we should make a reality right away.
5. Rosie, the Robot, from The Jetsons
My vacuum cleaner has been broken for almost 3 months now. I have used that as an excuse for not cleaning my apartment, but the truth is that even before it was broken, I found other reasons not to. I’m tired. I’m busy. It’s sunny. It’s raining. I’m…I don’t want to. I have considered paying for a cleaning service, but I find it difficult to get past the overwhelming guilt and shame that accompanies paying someone to clean a mess you made, and are able-bodied enough to clean yourself. That’s why I need Rosie. She cleans and cooks and probably does the Jetsons taxes. And I’m not saying she doesn’t have feelings, or that robots can’t be people, too, but I mean, they aren’t because they’re robots. She’s a cleaning, cooking, caring machine who exists to clean and cook and care. Who would I be to deprive her of that?
4. The Time-Tuner, from Harry Potter.
We all remember Ron’s emotional breakdown in Prisoners of Azkaban. “I was talking to you there! How did you get there?” And everyone laughed, and poor Ron Weasley, mauled by a werewolf and concussed, was left out of the joke, again. But from the first time Hermione broke this bad boy out, I was ready to invest. Two places at once. How many double-booked dinners have I awkwardly had to negotiate out of? How many times in my life have I been unable to get those last few tasks completed on the day I set aside to do them? Given the ability to rewind and re-do, I could finally complete my to-do lists, and maybe even stop writing these personal articles during work hours. There is always the risk of too much of a good thing, however; my behavior would have to be monitored by a responsible adult. Otherwise, there’s a good chance I’d be time-turning to finally complete my bucket-list goal of watching every piece of media content on Netflix, and my laundry would still not be done because honestly? Who cares.
3. The Night-Night Gun, from Marvel’s Agents of Shield
Life, from time to time, can be a stressful and frustrating experience. There are days that I stare exhaustedly into the abyss, thinking that if one more person says just one more thing to me, I will absolutely have to kill them. Enter: the Night-Night gun. This is a weapon that is, for all intents and purposes, a phaser set permanently to stun. Non-lethal, but packs one hell of a punch, strong enough to knock out anyone who isn’t Deathlok. It incapacitates, or, more significantly to my purposes, it silences. With a Night-Night gun, I could finally get out of the office on time. I could get the unstable drug addict outside the grocery store to stop trying to follow me home. And I could finally make it through an episode of Game of Thrones without someone going, “wait, which one is that guy?” A pretty worth-while investment, don’t you think?
2. The Transporter, from Star Trek
I’m a dozer, I admit it. I’m guilty of snooze button abuse, and I’ve learned to simply accept that about who I am as a person. Sure, that fact lies in direct contrast to my compulsive need for timeliness and efficiency, but that’s exactly why I’m the perfect candidate for a Transporter. Let’s face it, this is really where our focus should be in the technology world, because everyone would benefit. Better-rested employees, less stress, less car accidents and far less excuses for missing meetings. Throw in a communicator with infinite cell service and you’ll be handing out perfect attendance certificates to the whole team. I dream of a world where my friends can make it to the movies on time. A world where I never have to hear about traffic or driving in the rain from a co-worker, ever again. A world where I wake up, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and then say, Beam me up, Scotty. To which Scotty replies, Oh, shut up. I dream that dream.
1. J.A.R.V.I.S., from Iron Man
More than time travel, improvements in my daily routine or a gun that renders annoying people unconscious, I want a J.A.R.V.I.S. for my very own. Tony Stark’s artificially-intelligent best friend, with his dry witticisms and unending helpful advice is exactly what I want in a life partner, complete with his cheery, english accent. He could run my household, remind me of people’s birthdays, and extinguish the fires I would inevitably start with my microwave of the future. If I had a JARVIS, I would no longer be talking to myself as I pace around my apartment, prattling on about things I need to do or ideas for essays. I could tell them to JARVIS, and he could write them down for me. And then later, when I’m sitting in front of a blank screen, watching a cursor blink in quarter time, I could say, “Hey Jarvis, what was that bit I had about US currency rates?” and he would remind me and I’d laugh and say, “Oh right – that was a good one.” And Jarvis would say, “Not really, no.” And he would be right, but I’d ignore him anyway.
And we’d live happily ever after.