Multiscale Integration

Cedric Honnet

by Cedric Honnet

Dec. 9, 2022

It is the year 2142, the Media Lab has branches on multiple planets, and Kai works on the Mars base.

BzzzZZzZZ. BzzzZZzZZ. BzzzZZzZZ!!! 

Kai sat up with a jolt and groaned at his Pillexa Smart Pillow™  to quit vibrating. “Pillexa, stop!” Kai commanded.

… BzzzZZzZZ …

Kai raised his voice, “Pillexa, stop!!!”. Pillexa heard this time and fell quiet. “You are so difficult sometimes, Pillexa,” Kai mused aloud as he slumped back into bed, “but you sure are comfy”. “You know, you could have just used our telepathic connection”, Pillexa’s sassy voice flooded Kai’s brain. Kai winced. It had been a whole year since he got his Neura-mazon HairaLink extensions, but he still had not gotten used to voices of connected devices infiltrating his mind, and through the fibers of his hair, nonetheless. “Good morning, Kai, ” Pillexa continued unhampered, “today is going to be a great day. You have a sleep score of 87. HairaLink will now deliver your Prime Tonic , which will increase your score to 96”.

Pillexa’s marshmallowy consistency comprising plush morphing fibers belied a powerful fabric-based computing system that had been meticulously monitoring Kai’s brain state throughout the night. It worked in concert with HairaLink to deliver a perfectly balanced cocktail of hormones and antioxidants to keep Kai’s mind and body fresh, counteracting any toxic effects from stress, aging, and even nightmares. The ever-enterprising Elon Musk released it in 2090 following a series of trials involving pigs, monkeys, and himself. Elon emerged from his decade-long trial having shaved 50 years off his age, and remained youthful ever since.

Kai sat up, feeling his grogginess evaporate like morning dew. “Yet another great day to do whatever I want!” he relished gleefully. Kai did not miss his boring job from back in the early 2100s, before machine intelligence removed virtually all need for pointless toil. In recent times, wearable nuclear fusion eliminated 99% of energy costs, which was followed by spectacular advances in quantum computing, nanotechnology, and healthcare. This freed up much of the population from archaic notions of both labor and aging. 

While technology and fabric computers improved his well-being significantly, there was one thing that Kai did miss - in-person communication without any of this new-fangled brain-to-brain stuff. After all, Kai was still a millennial. He carried the baggage of growing up in the 1980's, an era when permanent instantaneous communication was not available, much less desired. People would randomly visit others, but if a meeting needed to be organized, everything had to be planned in advance, and written in a calendar. To be on time in the morning, Kai would use an alarm clock to wake up, and if he arrived in advance, he would always have a book or a walkman to wait happily. Patience was not a virtue, it was the norm. Kai sent letters, took the time to think, looked things up in encyclopedias… Kai used to even carry a torch and a compass in case he got lost. Gen Z replaced these vintage apparatus with smartphones, and Gen φ younglings never even heard of those, with self-illuminating material built into everything and trusty HairaLink Navigators propelling the human race in the right directions.

Kai grabbed a handful of freshly synthesized Pfizer-Walmart holo-berries from his superfood kitchen garden and stepped outside, making his way to his friend and fellow Millennial Lily’s house. En route, Kai’s body temperature and sweat were constantly analyzed by stoma-like porous fibers on his jumper, which modulated undulations to create a temperature-regulated micro-environment, and sent feedback to Kai’s HairaLink to keep his body in optimal condition. Kai walked past AppleBucks café, which was as usual full of teenagers sitting silently across from each other, but no doubt spamming each other with thoughts.

Kai arrived at Lily’s abode, and she beckoned him. Without a word, the pair shut their eyes and began to pull at their scalp. The HairaLinks made faint popping noises as they detached, and soon, it was just Kai and Lily. Lily smiled warmly and pulled out a crate from underneath her bed. Inside was a small heap of white accoutrements, bottles of colorful liquid, some yarn, and two large needles. Kai broke into a smile. Computing fabrics may be all the rage, but there was just something about the old-fashioned that spoke to him. Lily and Kai sat on the floor and spent the rest of the day giggling, tie-dying, knitting, and reminiscing out loud about the 80s.

It was indeed a great day.


This post was the result of a question from Joe Paradiso in the proseminar context:
"How can we envision the Media Lab can help build a better future?"

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