Thursday, December 10, 2009

I was just thinking... what would I want a supercool futuristic robot to be able to do? Or more generally, what technological inventions do I want that would make my life easier? It is harder than I thought it would be to think of an answer. Insofar as cleaning floors is a part of my life, I would much much prefer a robot to do it, but to be honest I don't spend much time with a mop or vacuum cleaner in my hands. There aren't that many other tasks I would really like to be automated. Some of you may know how I feel about driving, so maybe some little transport-pod which would whisk me around, powered by moonbeams and good intentions, at 75mph, and which could then fold up and be stored in my wallet? Maybe I would like a robot suit I could climb into which would make me dance like a pro (not that I don't already) and play basketball like LeBron (or like Muggsy Bogues). What about a robot doctor? Pedicurist? Babysitter?

There are some tasks which can be performed by machines, but not well or cheaply enough, and I would buy a robot which did them well - a robot masseur and robot onion chopper would be on my Hannukah list. I wonder if this kind of pitiful list reflects a lack of imagination, or reflects some sort of limit to the usefulness future potential technological contributions to our lives?

That said, in 1970 what would the theoretical me have answered to this same question? I am going to resist the temptation to make a joke about automatic joint rollers, but would any of the things that were invented since then (Hawaii chair!) made the list?

I am guessing that I can not even imagine the inventions that will make our lives better in the next 40 years, and that one day I wont be able to remember how we lived without them. Oh well!