I’ve been a science fiction disciple for as long as I can remember. My first sci-fi obsession was A Wrinkle in Time (ok, science fantasy, but still), and I’ve never stopped obsessing since.
Our reality is about to pay off on some of my most cherished concepts from science fiction, so I’ve composed a bucket list of things I’d like to see before the lifeclock crystal in my hand blinks red and black.
But first, some quick notes on the concept of a “science fiction bucket list.”
This post should probably be called “My Science Bucket List” or “My Innovation Bucket List.” If these things actually show up (some are already in production), they won’t be science fiction. But most are science fiction now, so, anyway… titles are tough.
Furthermore, I’ve limited myself to things that could actually show up in my lifetime. This seems appropriate for a “bucket list.” Though I very much want to teleport across the planet, time travel, and take a hit of the spice melange, these just aren’t realistic.
Finally, I should note that everything listed here is quite self-serving. I would, of course, choose to first see a host of altruistic technologies: abundant and cheap clean energy, sustainable food production and distribution tech, cures for all the diseases, etc. It just wouldn’t make for a very fun blog post.
1) Futuristic Clothing
I’ve been waiting so long. I definitely thought I’d be able to look around at what people were wearing by now and think the future is here!
But nothing changes. We actually seem to be going backward in this sense, recycling styles from the 70s and 80s. I’m not saying I want shiny onesie jumpsuits, but give me something.
Much of this desire comes from my own lack of style (or capacity to care about style). If we all transition to weird futuristic uniforms, it becomes a non-issue.
2) Vegetables That Taste Like “_________”
Fill in the blank depending on your mood. Right now, I’ll say…donuts.
The more you process a natural food, the less nutritional value it has. I doubt this will change anytime soon. A better way to phrase this bucket list item might be “hacked taste buds.” We probably won’t create vegetables that taste like donuts, but we could potentially alter my sensory perceptions to make me believe I’m eating a donut when I’m actually eating cauliflower.
3) A Silent, Cheap Alternative to the Gas-Powered Leaf Blower
This probably doesn’t qualify as science fiction, but it’s very achievable, incredibly minor, and could make a huge difference in my life. I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but there is almost no part of my day in Atlanta when I can’t hear one of these things sawing at my brain.
I suppose one could argue that the silent, cheap alternative to the gas-powered leaf blower is the rake, but those appear to be out of fashion.
That’s it, I’m done. I’ll have some cheese with my whine, thank you very much.
4) Robot Cook
I don’t know how to cook.
That is all.
5) Human-Animal Hybrids
I realize this one falls in shaky ethical territory.
You could even say it’s straight-up nightmarishly immoral.
But still, bucket list…
I want to see this, but I don’t want to feel terrible about it, so let’s imagine that we are NOT talking about the combination of embryonic human DNA with non-human DNA, which allows resulting organism no agency in the decision. Let’s instead imagine—though it’s far less feasible scientifically—that we’re talking about a process in which adult humans choose to alter themselves with animal DNA/characteristics.
It’s the closest I’ll (probably) ever get to standing in the cantina scene from Star Wars. I can imagine turning to the furry hybrid next to me and inquiring about which animal’s DNA was used:
Walker: That’s amazing! Wolf?
Walker: Just tell me already.
But Walker, you said teleportation was on your “want but not realistic” list…
Physical teleportation certainly is on that list. But what about consciousness upload to distant robotic avatars? Teleportation in essence if not in body. It’s a long shot, but it could happen.
Want to vacation in Rome? You just wake up there…
There is one minor problem: if we achieve the easy transfer of human consciousness on a whim, then all laws of human existence, relations, economy, procreation, and government will have collapsed.
I’m somewhat conflicted about this one.
At least once a year, a new video of a fancy jetpack demonstration makes its way across the internet. I found this one damn impressive. Usually, these demos happen over water—smacking into anything solid with one of these seems like instant death—but this one took place inside a building.
One of the more magical experiences of my life was hang gliding (tandem with an instructor) in the Blue Ridge mountains. It was the closest I’ve ever been to actual bird-like flight, and it blew my mind. I want more—but from the comfort of my own home.
Another one I’m conflicted about. Nothing freaks me out quite like those “scientists have almost figured out how to stop the aging process” articles. They appear more often than you’d think. Read enough, and immortality seems inevitable. Want to freak out a teenager? Tell them they might never die.
There are counter-arguments for why immortality will never be achieved—here’s one—but I’ve seen enough in the “pro” column to make me nervous.
I have a sneaking suspicion they will crack the immortality trick right after I can’t take advantage of it, either because of extreme age or less-than-extreme income. Think you’ve got social media FOMO now? Wait until you see the immortals—let’s call them Generation Eternal—celebrating their first second twenty-fifth birthday.
9) The First Interstellar Flight Launch
Watching the first interstellar mission launch from Earth would be pure magic. If such a thing happens in my time, the ship in question won’t be piloted by humans. The crew will be entirely composed of artificial intelligences—either androids or just the ship itself as one big AI, piloting itself.
Kind of a bummer that no humans will be going, but it’s better than nothing.
In the relatively near future, VR platforms will advance to a level and complexity that allows individuals to design their own world, filling it with everything they’ve ever wanted to see. Think The Sims taken to its most extreme—yet logical—conclusion.
Remember those “unrealistic” science fiction desires I listed at the beginning? In WalkerWorld, they become reality, and much more besides.
But here’s the problem. WalkerWorld™ will be just one of a million other artificial worlds created by writers, artists, designers, dreamers—really anyone who wants to put in the effort. It will be a lot like this blog, a place of unique weirdness competing against millions of others for your attention in an endless ocean of constant creation.
I’ll let you know when WalkerWorld goes live.*
*Real title TBD. I won’t actually name it “WalkerWorld”—I do have some taste. Maybe Walkerville?
So that’s it. My very restrained, semi-realistic science fiction bucket list. Tell me what I missed. I know you have some wild ideas. I won’t even hold you to the “realistic” requirement—go crazy.
And to those of you in the food industry—work on the vegetable-donut for me. Thanks.