In the pristine, Stainless steel, Imagined future, Where did the Sticky drippings In your fridge go? Today was Somebody’s Impossible to grasp, Lasers and Robots and Cell phones and Synthetic organs, Tomorrow. In your far-off tomorrow, Will you be bent over, Cleaning the Black syrup drip Of exotic fruit and Lab grown meat Left there too long?
*This piece is in response to a book that I read called Yesterday’s Tomorrow, which was a collection of illustrations of how people in the early and mid 20th century thought the 2000s would look. Also, admittedly, I thought about the episode of Spongebob where they find a time machine and everything is chrome but they’re still in the Krusty Krab.
I just think it’s interesting how the world has come so far, and is so much safer, and faster and we’re all still so so so angry. When you look at the illustrations in old science fiction magazines it seems almost like they forgot that humans will still find things to do, and be unhappy about. Your robotic, Jetson’s maid will still forget to clean some spot and you’ll try for hours to fix it and probably yell at someone over the phone, even though the voice on the phone will probably be a Google powered AI (real thing) that just sounds like a person.
The question of the poem is rhetorical. Of course we will find something to do. Of course we will scrub the little brown-black line of former fruit. Just like we feel the compulsion to clean our room. It’s a mental health exercise. It isn’t necessary. We won’t die from leaving a bed unmade and clothes all around the place. And we won’t die from the one discoloration in our kitchen. But we’ll find things to do and clean even if it is just a game we make for ourselves.
Here is a citation to the Yesterday’s Tomorrow book (because there are a lot of them): Corn, J. J., & Horrigan, B. (1996). Yesterday’s tomorrows: past visions of the American future. JHU Press.
And here is the Spongebob episode:
Article about very realistic AI callcenter operators: https://www.zdnet.com/article/googles-human-sounding-ai-to-answer-calls-at-contact-centers/
Fun video of one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXUQ-DdSDoE