Last week the Christian Science Monitor had this story about Toyota’s new mind controlled wheelchair.
Not much to complain about with this one, but the comments below the article were fun. They joked about hoping the controllers were not thinking about anything complicated like last night’s game, or today’s sit com situation, or tomorrow’s consequences of higher math, when they were out and about. They envisioned unfortunate accidents with hapless pedestrians (as if that sort of thing didn’t ever happen now). Somebody got pissed at the levity surrounding this major breakthrough for the disabled. As if joking about tech for the disabled was the same as joking about the disabled.
I suppose it’s true: we should stay serious when discussing our sacred, exalted tech. On the other hand, as far as I’m concerned the purpose of tech is to serve as fodder for humor, regardless of what the tech is about. It all makes good entertainment.
A mind controlled wheelchair is certainly wonderful, but if I were the disabled person who this was designed for, I’d be wondering when the mind controlled artificial limbs were going to arrive. Especially if I’d already learned how to get around using my arms or even better: my voice. The plain old vanilla wheelchair was the breakthrough and this is not much of an upgrade.
The importance of this, then, is not what it can do for the disabled. What is exciting is that it’s a direct precursor to mind controlled everything. Cars and chairs will be great, but I want to go further. I want everything to move without my expending any more energy than what it takes to produce a thought. Not since the clap-on light switch have we seen such a breakthrough in labor savingness. And I can’t wait for its application.
Housework will get done Betwitched-style. Just a wiggle of the nose and the place cleans itself: dusts, vacuums, launders, organizes the shoes.
Obviously we’re not there yet, but this is a step in the Darren and Samantha Stevens direction. And anything that makes good on the Hollywood promise of suburban happiness is okay in my book.