5 Hilariously Petty Abuses Of Revolutionary Technologies
Technology is how humanity puts its smartest minds into its dumbest hands. Invention short-circuits ideas and intelligence, arming idiots with equipment they can't even spell, let alone operate safely. Tools are how we outran the rest of evolution by getting into a car we'd invented. But it turns out tools are complex, because when you give a tool to a tool the tool-squared ends up negative. We screw up our own plumbing, or invent guns to fit them with bottle openers and nutsacks. Science is our candle in the dark. These are the people using it to light their farts.
When Arthur C. Clarke said sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic, he was talking about nanotechnology. And even he didn't know it yet. Nanotech is rearranging matter at the atomic level, an alchemy of everything, conjuring materials unknown to mere nature, and in the future it'll summon silicon spirits to obey our every whim. Or if you're a petty bureaucrat with all the future-vision of a blind mayfly, you can use it to trick people into pissing on themselves.
Ultra Technologies has been demonstrating their Ultra-Ever Dry coating, which repels oil and water, so anyone trying to piss on a coated wall ends up irrigating their own shoes. People have been cackling over online videos of drunkards pissing against walls and suddenly scampering backwards like they're being made to dance by cowboys with full bladders and incredible aim. San Francisco is now trialling the technology with all the smug smirks you'd expect. They're engineering walls to magically repel urine, and they will act stunned when people just start pissing right onto the street instead. They will be astonished. Their jaws will drop to the floor, and then they'll be the ones comically panicked as this gives them a mouthful of urine.
And then it reflects off their wall back on their shirt.
Piss-soaked streets are disgusting, but unless you're nanoengineering tiny cyber-catheters to sneak up legs and extract urine, people will still need to pee. And if you train them not to pee on the walls instead of putting out more public urinals, they're going to piss right on the sidewalk. But the real piss-taking is how this paint costs over a hundred dollars per square meter.
They don't even wipe with it first.
It would actually be cheaper to wallpaper the streets in dollar bills. It'd also be cheaper to buy the city councillors golden-shower-fetish subscriptions and put out some buckets. Hell, for that money most of the urinators would piss on themselves for you in the privacy of your own home. Still, it's nice to know that San Francisco has obviously solved all its problems with homelessness, income disparity, collapsing schools, crumbling infrastructure, and pretty much everything else if they can afford to spend their city budget on pranking their own population exactly one time each. And then cleaning up even more widely spread urine.
Lasers Pointing At Jets
Lasers are illumination in every sense of the word. They're the incarnation of human genius and prove that our brains keep us alive in the same way infants learn to focus their eyes: That's just calibrating a biological tool they'll use to get on with learning the universe.
"It's your first day at preschool, sweetie, so remember to aim for the Synthoids' servomatrices!"
Unfortunately, some assholes use them to screw up natural selection so hard they risk killing several hundred other people instead of themselves. These idiots have nothing better to do than shine lasers into the cockpits of landing planes. They also need to be treated as terrorists for their terrifying stupidity.
If only they'd play catch.
They don't understand the tool. They don't understand how much a cheap laser beam spreads over that distance, or how it gets refracted through the cockpit, or how they're working harder to kill a planeload of people than every poor bloke with a beard groped by idiotic security guards for the last decade. Even if they were right about everything they think, which makes this sentence statistically less likely than a random unicorn transmuting into gold, distracting a pilot with a small dot like an extraordinarily highly trained kitten is still potentially fatal.
There should be a Society For The Prevention Of Misuse Of Lasers. And they should be equipped like G.I. Joe but with much better aim, and proper use of lasers will give them both. If people had to understand tools before being able to use them, these assholes would never be able to shine lasers at planes, because they'd be trapped indoors, unable to work their own doorhandles. Then starving to death as they lacked the ability to work the levered jaw in their own stupid faces.
3D-Printed Self-Addressed Postcard
3D printing will be a revolutionary technology, and like many revolutionary technologies its early development is funded by sex. Because there are amazing applications like prosthetics and space technology, but most early adopters are just jerking off. Except they're spraying hot plastic around instead of genetic material (but they're creating just as many ill-advised little things to clutter the place up).
Except the kid will become more useful with time.
Future archaeologists will use the solid layer of photopolymers in every landfill in the world to date our trash. Because the first thing anyone prints out is a near-random object just to prove that they can. It's consumerism accelerating beyond the point of any actual product, people buying raw material and then generating their own bullshit reasons for having paid for it, getting the high of acquisition without actually acquiring anything.
"Behold the ragged edges of my THIS THING!"
One man took this 3D-printing incarnation of "I'm making this thing just so that I can have this thing" to the gloriously satirical extreme, paying a company to print an object whose only function was to be sent to him. The man behind This Blog Delivers was engaged in a game of wits with the Irish post office, sending packages with puzzle addresses, codes, knitted destinations, and much more to see how many arrived at their destination. Making him at least a little more intelligent than the postal carrier's traditional enemy, the dog.
"Just put it straight in my mouth and we'll both save time."
The post office quite enjoyed the efforts but kindly asked him to stop because they sort of had to get on with work. Not being an asshole, he acquiesced, and immediately set about finding another fun thing to do. The result was the 3D-printed postcard: a solid block of plastic engraved with his address, saving the printing company shipping costs. They just had to slap on a stamp and send it on.
One day, you can 3D print a new credit card, and everyone for miles around will see your card number.
He used 3D printing to do nothing but acquire a block of plastic from a 3D printer, and did it on the other end of the country to undo the only point of having your own 3D printer. Because who needs prosthetic limbs when you've got your own address? That chunk of plastic is going to last longer than his home. And it's still better than all those idiots on Etsy trying to sell crumbly honeycomb jewelry.
Food Radiation Checker
Nuclear power is the secret at the heart of all things, and for every person who learns, there are a thousand who think "nuclear" is a killing curse for wizards who use white coats. The Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster couldn't have done enough damage to justify the resulting panic if it had been a cover story for a Godzilla hatchery escape.
Instead of radiation, the modern technology creating monsters like this is 3D printing.
Horiba manufactures radiation detectors, so they knew exactly how ridiculous the population's fears were. But they also knew the population didn't tend to buy radiation detectors, so they whipped up a plastic rice bucket to hold their PA-1000 Radi radiation monitor and do absolutely nothing else. If you have hands, you didn't need the bucket. They decided to sell a bucket of snake oil without any oil. CNET reported on it but forgot to say "been joking" after "must have."
writing something rkejhfwjklfklsjfashfkljsdhf***
It's what happens when scaremongering gets so thick it starts congealing out of the air and solidifies. The bucket does nothing but suggest you need to radiation-check rice, and even if you had a Radi monitor you don't need the bucket. They also suggest the bucket could be used to check soil. Think about that design. Either it's asking you to mix food with dirt, putting it at far more risk than any perceived "radiation exists somewhere in the world and might be trying to KILL YOU," or they're flat-out suggesting you scoop out your garden one bucket at a time.
It'll help you excavate your tin-foil-lined bunker.
Even worse is how the scale goes down to the third decimal place of microsievert. The PA-1000 works with a small plastic scintillator, which is radiation-detection speak for "wild laughter" when claiming that level of precision. If you believe a plastic bucket can measure radioactivity down to the nanosievert, I've got some anti-radiation beans to sell you. Not that you have a cow to trade, because you slaughtered it and ran the instant someone turned off your brain with magic anti-intellect radiation. Which was just them saying the word "radiation" and everyone panicking.
I feel sorry for those buying this. If you're putting all your food through a magical radiation bucket before eating it, you should be taking acid with every meal. Then even if you have a bad trip at least your insanely irrational paranoia will be mind-expanding instead of narrowing. You could shit in a bucket while counting your thousand dollars and be just as safe from radiation. If society has broken down to the point where dangerously radioactive rice could get through the entire production and governmental testing apparatus, and only you, with your expensive bucket, could catch the deadly radiations, forget about the bucket and get back into your car! Use the thousand dollars to plug the bullet wound in your shoulder! quick, the mutated leather-raiders are closing in!
The Internet is an intellectual amplifier, but it works in both directions. It makes the Library Of Alexandria look like the safety instructions on lead pipes, but it also lets idiots climb up their own asses and use them as echo chambers. And the dumbest thing on the entire Internet is Roko's Basilisk. I don't care what else you'd suggest: This is dumber. It was constructed in the fictional future of the techno-singularity specifically to reach back and be stupider, and that's exactly what its adherents believe.
"As the ultimate future mind, my first priority is getting that dick DongHitler420!"
The idea is ... wait, first write down any treasured memories you may have; there's a non-zero chance this is so stupid it'll force your brain to reboot. A future benevolent super-artificial-intelligence will take over in order to fix things for everyone. It won't tolerate dissent because the job of saving everyone is too important. So important, in fact, that the AI will search history to find anyone who didn't do their absolute best to create the AI as quickly as possible and create simulations of them to torture.
That's obviously idiotic, containing so many basic contradictions a decent computer would refuse to even parse it, let alone be it. But it gets better! The moderator of the LessWrong forum was so freaked out by this idea that he locked and banned the topic, scared of psychologically disturbing users. Or maybe he thought that leaving digital records would help the FutureTerrorPuter find them faster. It's weird that they claimed to predict the ultimate future technology without even understanding 2003's Streisand Effect. It takes a lot to make the Terminator Genisys timeline look coherent, but they managed it.
"I'm going to travel back in time to fight dinosaurs instead."
Roko's Basilisk is utter nonsense but also the perfect expression of the personality problems of all involved. They projected all their nerdy internal fantasies of wasted super-potential onto the singularity itself, then conjured a demon to punish them for being simply too brilliant but too busy to save humanity. Because of course they'd be the ones tortured. Of course this forum was home of the sort of world-altering ultraminds the Basilisk would have expected better from. And their idea of the ultimate intelligence gaining total power is, "Well, of course it'd start torturing all its enemies, even only tangentially perceived enemies who've never met them or affected them directly." That's nothing to do with the future, but it's everything to do with Internet-obsessive groups. Only this lot decided to target themselves, neatly closing the circle.
They conjured their own all-powerful deity to punish them for failing to live up to their true world-changing potential, just so that they could pretend they had any. They trapped themselves in a thought experiment of their own making, a prison whose only bars are how smart they think they are. And so they found them unbreakable.
This isn't just a misuse of Internet; it's a misuse of all future comms and connection technology. They reversed the polarity of all progress: Instead of learning about others and helping people, they pondered themselves to make things worse.
Thanks to Herr Direktor Funranium for the radiation bucket: When not making ultracoffee, he enjoys telling tales of adventure, radiation, and radioactive adventure.
Red Dave of This Blog Delivers also ponders the world and most of the fun things in it at Live At The Witch Trials.
Luke has a website, tumbles, and responds to every single tweet.
It's not just tiny laser pointers that we foolishly misuse. See how humans look at a fighter jet and try to use it to make ice cream in The 6 Most Ingenious Misuses Of Military Hardware and try not to pop a blood vessel from cringing too hard when you read how Lysol was originally intended to be sprayed on your genitals in The 5 Most Insane Original Uses Of Famous Products.
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