Sunday, Aug 14, 2022
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science fiction

RU4 Real?

Magic food machines, mood organs, cyborgs and Weasley-like cars! In this world, imagination is the only limit.

RU4 Real?
illustration by Jayachandran
RU4 Real?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

If Philip K. Dick had his way, you might wake up every morning with the help of a Mood Organ. This thoughtfully designed device would set your mood for the entire day, depending on all your (mundane or sublime) requirements. If you had an important meeting that day, it could make you masterful and confident. On the other hand, if it was a holiday, it could make you relaxed and happy. A whole lot better than that morning cup of tea—unless you put something in it. And how many of us do that?

Assuming that you’re now in the mood, the next step would be breakfast. It could go in a wide variety of directions, depending on which school of thought you belong to. If you’re a Dystopian ("The world is going to the dogs. Hear them bark!"), it’s likely to be grim. It could be reconstituted seaweed, assuming we have exhausted all potential food sources on land. It could be a single tablet, with the nutritional value of an entire meal. Efficient, but not quite the same as poori-sabzi. Then again, maybe man will become man’s best source of nutrition, solving the population problem and the food problem at one go. We’d probably come in cans, in different flavours. The raw material could be political dissidents. Let’s hope the Chinese don’t figure that one out. If you find this disgusting, don’t blame me. I’m just the messenger. The film Soylent Green was based on this premise, and did quite well, actually. If you’re a Utopian, your meals are likely to be better. You might have a Magic Food Machine—a key feature of Star Trek and the five-part Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy, to name but two. This machine has two unique qualities. One, its database stores the exact composition of every form of food and drink known to man, and a few other species besides. Two, it can construct these items from basic molecules, of which it has an unlimited store. Every good restaurant should have one.

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