4A Matter Replicator
As we've discussed before, the day that we come up with matter replicators is the day that the global economy shuts down. Not only has humanity gotten one step closer to that, but also it has chosen to do so in the exact way you imagined when you were 8 years old. Meet the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic:
Name courtesy of Bill Watterson.
Wait, what the hell? No way can that be a real product. That looks like an unfinished set piece for a Futurama live-action movie, for crying out loud!
But real it is, and work it does. Granted, it's not quite at the level where it can crank out, say, edible hamburgers or flawless diamond rings like you see in Star Trek and whatnot, but it is a huge step in that direction, and cheaper than a new sofa. It is what they call a 3-D printer -- it literally "prints" actual physical objects.
At this point, we're about five product generations away from the end of the economy.
All you have to do is design a 3-D model using a program provided with the machine and send the data over to your MakerBot, then it brings your model to life. It uses something called Makerbot Plastic, with the machine putting layer upon layer of the stuff together until the desired item is produced. And you can manufacture whatever shapes you want -- be it boobs, a new part for your ceiling fan, boobs, a scale replica of the Enterprise or even boobs. If you're feeling lazy, you can just download one of the designs that are user-uploaded to their website and bring it to life.
Boobs are also an option, in case you were unaware.
Designers of the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic boast that the machine is completely automated, reliable and very easy to use. And better yet, this isn't one of those situations where you pre-order the thing and just hope like hell that the project takes off and they actually start making them -- you can buy your own 3-D printer right now.
3A Universal Translator
The fixer of many a plot hole, the universal translator is, in one way or another, a key element of pretty much every sci-fi movie released since the original Star Trek series. Forget about having to learn a foreign language -- you just talk into the machine, and it turns around and translates for you on the fly. It's the type of thing that, if real, would seem to completely revolutionize travel, business and pretty much everything else having to do with cross-cultural interaction. It also sounds less like something that could exist and more like a tool for lazy screenwriters.
Now, thanks to modern advancements, mankind has finally created a working universal translator. And by finally, we mean 10 years ago. Ever since its release in 2001, this device, called Phraselator, has been an essential part of the U.S. Army's various engagements in the Middle East. Yes, the Army. That's why you probably haven't heard about it up until now. But in 2009, an improved version bearing the improbable name of SQU.ID SQ.200, or Squid for short, was released for anyone to buy.
No matter how far you travel, you'll be able to prank call the locals.
You just set it to the language of the person you're speaking to and its voice-recognition software figures out what you just said, drawing from a huge list of phrases in the other language (you can download up to 100,000 phrases), then broadcasts it to whoever you're conversing with. The device is voice-to-voice, hands-free and eye-free. You just hang it on your neck and turn it on. Order a sandwich in French? Mais oui. Comment on a movie in Swedish? Ja. Discuss Shakespeare in Urdu? Fuckin' jee han!
Combine the Phraselator with Wikipedia for slightly delayed omnipotence.