Nanoware: Utility Fog

http://www.nanotech-now.com/utility-fog.htm

So imagine this… it’s 2020 AD, and you’re at the grocery store. Your epaper list is folded into an origami bracelet, and as you approach each item on the shelves, the item’s RFID tag reaches through the utility fog to ping your bracelet. Your cart is loaded up as the utility fog grabs items off the counter, lifts them into your basket, and push-pulls your basket through the supermarket. The epaper bracelet is actually a link to a family-based Wiki to which all of your family members have contributed their shopping lists, so you know that your shopping is complete when the bracelet emits a bell-like tone, and that your teenage son isn’t going to complain, “oh, Mom, you forgot the peanut butter!” because it’s on your list because he put it there. As you walk past the Netflix kiosk, your epaper bracelet rents the movies you want to watch tonight, which are beamed to your house’s computer. The bracelet allows you to walk through the checkout line auto-magically with your cart, and the cost of your items can be individually billed either to your debit account or to your credit line. The shopping cart morphs itself as you cross the parking lot so that it interfaces perfectly with your car — relieving you of the need to lift groceries from cart to car trunk. And voila, you’re under way, because the car knows it’s you sitting in the driver’s seat, because you’re the right weight and body type. The car monitors your vital signs and makes sure you’re not falling asleep at the wheel.

That’s what the singularity might mean. Or it might mean that you get absorbed by the shapeless gray goo as the nanomachines run amok.

4 comments

  1. You’re totally right. The fog is unlikely, maybe. But nearly every kid at this school has a cellphone, and the adults have virtually no response to it except “you’re not allowed to have that in school.”

    We’re in this world where every kid has largely complete and immediate access to the largest library in existence from a cellphone, and as a school we’re still concentrating on factoids and creating roadblocks to learning on the web. Argh.

  2. I can see the electronic information exchange aspects of your description being firmly in place (to the point of being fairly familiar to many first world citizens) by 2020, likely some of the smart materials also. However, I’m not entirely certain that utility fog is even possible (for a variety of reasons, including power usage), and even if it is, I’d expect it at least a decade later than 2020 and likely considerably longer than that. By the time we can make utility fog, I’m betting the “we” that are doing it won’t particularly count as human to modern people.

  3. I can see the electronic information exchange aspects of your description being firmly in place (to the point of being fairly familiar to many first world citizens) by 2020, likely some of the smart materials also. However, I’m not entirely certain that utility fog is even possible (for a variety of reasons, including power usage), and even if it is, I’d expect it at least a decade later than 2020 and likely considerably longer than that. By the time we can make utility fog, I’m betting the “we” that are doing it won’t particularly count as human to modern people.

    • You’re totally right. The fog is unlikely, maybe. But nearly every kid at this school has a cellphone, and the adults have virtually no response to it except “you’re not allowed to have that in school.”

      We’re in this world where every kid has largely complete and immediate access to the largest library in existence from a cellphone, and as a school we’re still concentrating on factoids and creating roadblocks to learning on the web. Argh.

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