Op-Ed: 20 new technologies to make your life worth living

Posted Jun 3, 2012 by Paul Wallis
The New York Times magazine recently published an article referring to new technology in which you can literally be submerged in “innovation”. Temperature differences in your clothing can power your MP3 player, and similar gadgets were featured.
The back view of a woman using Displax s multitouch technology
The back view of a woman using Displax's multitouch technology
Courtesy Displax
Sad to say, I think they missed a lot of options. According to NYT, these things are about 2 years away. Auto Cruise Control (ACC) can actually improve driving times. That means that cars are more efficient without people driving them. No surprise there. There are also ways of talking to your computer so you can babble to something that can’t answer back. There’s also a single coffee flavour, favoured by manufacturers, not consumers, naturally enough. Underwear (Spandex, rather sadly) that can tell you when to work out is another option. TV that you can play on your hand is also coming, in case you miss anything.
Yes, bliss is coming. From the look of it, between getting dressed and wondering what to play on your shirt, and trying to get some flavour out of your morning coffee, the entire human race will be busy trying to survive breakfast.
This isn’t so much invasive technology as a sort of techno-bassinet for the public. “If you’re not vegetative enough, we can help!” it says. Nobody, interestingly, is questioning the need for this technology. The usual process whereby every new gadget is considered great is in full lurch towards a progressively vaguer future.
The trouble is that this technology overlooks some obvious needs. It also overlooks some of the most basic principles of economics, management science and political science, those three infallible guiding lights of our society.
These principles are:
1. People are the problem.
2. People must have “something to do”, preferably something that kills them.
3. Every part of human life must have a think tank attached to it to provide a home for economists, management scientists and politicians. (To this day, some people even eat corn flakes without a committee.)
4. Life must be defined by some sort of simple rules. (This is why life is now so simple.)
To uphold these noble ideals, I have a few suggestions of my own for portable technology and software to improve human life and turn it into the bland, infuriating and sloppy thing it’s supposed to be.
Conversation software- It should be possible to have a conversation without actually having to be involved in it personally. This software can babble mindlessly without any human interaction at all, and even quote passages from great books, to make the listener think you’ve ever read two words in your life.
Whimpering software- Simply do a multiple choice test, enter it, and the software will do all your complaining for you, complete with heartbroken references to yourself. It’s spiritual hypochondria in a box.
Bitchiness coaching- Instead of spending hours figuring out how to be a total jerk, why not have a quick, easy program to tell you how to annoy as many people as possible, safely and in comfort? You could have a little prompt screen which says, “remember to nitpick for at least 3 hours”, or “hold a performance review”, or “let’s talk about cultural fits in the workplace”.
Everyone needs a gadget to make them more receptive to their environments and involved in their own lives.
A rationalizing toaster- You can make toast and engage in a meaningful, sympathetic discussion with your toaster about why you’re right about everything.
An excuse faucet- This useful bit of plumbing is simply turned on and wirelessly attached to a speaker, which says things like “I was under a lot of pressure” or “I’m trying to get in touch with myself”, and other useful reasons for screwing up.
Singing booze- This useful addition uses air pressure and sensors to bellow along with any music or other noises it can detect. You can destroy your liver and avoid all the hard work of karaoke at the same time.
The Irrelevance Machine- A small digital device which will instantly find and play commentary and other media which have absolutely nothing to do with any current events or your immediate situation. In Rebel Without a Cause, it would have played insurance commercials to the guy that went over the cliff, for example. To kamikaze pilots, it would have played family planning documentaries. On Wall Street, it would conduct 24/7 seminars on walking upright.
Religious software- God the App is the answer to everyone who’d like to believe in something but also wants the option to turn it all off. Believe what you want, and the software will find evidence of your righteousness and confirm any myths you like. Includes the invaluable self-justification app and a selection of computer-generated people agreeing with your every action. Includes your own sermon generator and other ways of getting some privacy.
Business applications
Business culture requires playful, game theory-based technology. Therefore, to appeal to the great minds of business, each application must have some sort of “I win” scenario.
Corporate Necrophilia- A game in which the death of a corporation is based on a score, and the winner is showered with rewards and medals. Suicide rates, financial losses and collapsing economies score big.
Corporate Psycho- A new game in which your insanity becomes a monetizeable asset. The more insane you become as a result of being expected to comprehend sentences, the higher you score.
Vacuous the Sycophant- Not really a biz version of Super Mario, this is a game where you receive rewards for being as ignorant and ingratiating as possible. High scores can actually be used to gain admission to social elites, political parties and some restaurants.
Pervert- The Game for Evil Geniuses- This game is for the brat demographic. Players must be as mindlessly destructive and cliché-ridden as possible, while inflating their egos to be as big as possible. The winner is the one who drools over the most trivial things and claims a triumph of evil at the slightest excuse. This game is also used for training purposes by some American corporations.
Biz gadgets
Of course, you can’t be someone in the business world unless you’re lugging around some mysterious bit of techno-bleat that makes you look highly advanced and in touch. Fortunately, demand for these gadgets is so strong that anything will sell well at any price. These are a few of the more popular options:
A lying report system- Looking exactly like a dashboard, this system will produce absolutely unreliable figures, reports, and up to the minute falsifications of anything. It uses real data to generate false data.
An auto business call system- This system will call you every 3 minutes at any time and cannot be blocked. A voice will utter soothing statements like “You’re an idiot” and other comments guaranteed to get a reaction out of even the most comatose corporate executive. Your reaction looks authentic, so your business associates assume you are actually getting important information. You also don’t feel left out when everyone else is getting calls from their auto call systems.
A slideshow generator- This thing is gold. It will produce an entirely unprovoked slide show out of any data to which it has access. The slideshow will include voiceovers quoting other data, and stream statistics incessantly. Apparently it also cures insomnia in code writers.
Lifestyle tech for kids
The trouble with life, of course, is that there isn’t enough technology in it, and that some people can even reach the age of 3 without exposure to technology’s life-enhancing wonders.
To overcome this absurd situation-
Crib-based TV: Kiddie shows all about death and career options- These invaluable sources of information can turn a 6 month old kid into an 80 year old in a couple of weeks.
Depressed teddy bears: So kids understand their parents better, a constantly crying teddy bear is a great option for those sunny days.
An abuse screen: This is a screen full of angry, yelling people to keep the 3 and 4 year olds in the loop and help them learn social skills. By the time they’re 5, they’re psychotic enough to go to school and talk to other “humans”.
Suicide toys: A doll that hangs itself, a plush toy that shoots itself, the options are limited only by good taste and what sweatshops are able to produce cheaply.
A chat show for pre-teens: At this age kids still believe that they’re getting information from media. This app exploits this credulous phase and allows PR people to introduce invaluable and endearingly pointless information for the age bracket, as they do for adult media.
Teen tech
A cool app- Cool is what other people think is cool. This app tells you what’s cool, like mass murder, arson and other insurance premium-hiking and political policy making options.
An infuriation app- This technology provides teens with a totally unbelievable version of teenage life. It is so far removed from reality as to make adulthood look like a much more interesting bet than being a teen and encourages purchase of the domestic apps like the Whimpering software.
The Gang software- Why get out of bed and get shot and live in squalor when you can get someone else to do it for you? This software includes updates on the best places to get shot, turned into confetti and other places you can arrange to meet your friends and not show up.
That's not even mentioning the relationship software, domestic bliss gadgets and apps, and the Marriage software, which is classified as a weapon.
Yes, where would we be without technology? Not much of a question, and we have no hope of finding the answer.