What Tech Do You Actually Want in 2019, Reality Be Damned?

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Year In ReviewYear In ReviewWe look back at the best, worst, and most significant moments of the year, and look forward to next year.

The Gizmodo staff has discussed the realistic technology we’re excited about for 2019, like itty bitty phones, video game streaming, 5G, and real-time translation (and why we shouldn’t get too excited about any of it). But the list that came from that discussion is limited by physics, laws, reality, and good editorial oversight.

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In the holiday haze (as some of the editors were off duty), we had another discussion about what technological innovations and developments we really want to see in the next year. Absolutely none of it will happen, but they provide an interesting glimpse into the id of Giz.

Some were seemingly doable. Social media editor Emily Lipstein wants a streaming stick that allows you to watch anything, including Apple AirPlay and Amazon Prime Video. Reporter Sam Rutherford wants carriers to “stop misleading people with bullshit 5G claims.”

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Senior producer Danielle Steinberg wants winter gloves that allow you to use a phone, particularly iPhone Touch ID. When others told her such gloves exist, she insisted none of them work. She was also not content with the suggestion to use fingerless gloves, which “work with phones and you look cool as hell,” as one staffer put it.

Reporter Melanie Ehrenkranz wants free and good plane wifi, shatterproof screens, and online anti-harassment tools that actually work.

Senior editor Harrison Weber wants an e-ink iPad and video wallpaper, which are somewhat reasonable. Science editor Rose Pastore wants a functioning New York City subway system, which is also reasonable, but certainly will not happen next year or ever.

Consumer tech reporter Victoria Song wants a wearable that can accurately measure how many calories you burned, because “it’s all bullshit hocus pocus now.”

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Adam Clark Estes wants to be able to embed the eyePhone from Futurama in his face.

Reporter Dell Cameron wants to see more tech solutions geared toward making life easier for older people. As he explained:

Everyone knocks Alexa Echo, mostly for privacy reasons, and it is creepy, but my grandmother had surgery this year, and I bought her one so she could control her lights, radio, air conditioning, etc., without having to call for help or risk a fall by getting out of bed. It’s honestly improved her quality of life. I don’t have any good ideas myself, sadly, but: Instead of more stupid gadgets that turn completely healthy people into zombies, something that makes life easier for people who aren’t as mobile as the rest of us.

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Some of us wanted to see automation making our lives better. For instance, Pastore wants a daylight-balanced light that hovers over her shoulder while she paints. Reporter Bryan Menegus wishes for an Oral-B electric toothbrush attached to a drone. Culture editor Husdon Hongo wants all police replaced with self-service kiosks. But primarily Hongo wants someone to “disrupt the teeth space” and make cyber teeth that “dont get fucked up and give u the problems.”

Finally, a couple reporters shot for the stars. “I just want the billionaires to get their space colony in 2019,” Rhett Jones said. “Leave us alone.” And Matt Novak wants a tower so high he can slap God in the face.

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So, what tech do you really want this year?

Former senior reporter at Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

1) Sustained fusion power.

There’s a Quebec guy working in Vancouver building a “steam-punk” version of a fusion reactor. I say “steam punk” because he’s using molten lead and lithium and injecting it into the reaction chamber using pistons instead of compressing the plasma using electromagnetic fields. There’s nothing in the math that says no to this. Their website is: https://generalfusion.com/

There’s also Germany’s Stellerator project - which has a chance because computation on complex electromagnetic field shapes has become so much better. And stellerators are easier than tokamoks.

And then there’s ITER.

Of course, Skunkworks said they’d do something “fusion” that was “truck-sized” back in 2014. I don’t think anyone believes them because of the lack of details, but hey: Skunkworks: they keep their cards to themselves.

2) Drexler Assemblers. I think this one is self-explanatory, in addition to being self-replicating. :) Of course the first ones are going to probably require a few megawatts of energy to be concentrated in a few dozen meters to operate at all - energy efficiency and all that, and we’ll probably have to set up a cooling system to keep everything from frying itself, but a few billion of these puppies combined with the fusion reactor from above could allow us to build just about anything. I think, so long as we don’t make them *too* efficient we won’t have a problem.

And even if they do become as efficient as organic nanomachines and can operate in ambient energy densities... we still aren’t going to have that much of an issue. My thing will be programming them not to harm functional complex carbon structures. I want it so you can stick a hand into the matrix and have it just clean non-organic crud and non-living matter from your skin. The ultimate goal is to integrate these into a biological system to clean and repair damage in a programmatic way inside the body under the direction of a physician or even the individual themselves. But that’s not a next-year thing and it will require a lot of fail-safes and programming to prevent runaway problems. I don’t think this technology could ever grey-goo the planet unless people were truly stupid and didn’t listen to any of our fiction and the warnings about abusing or misusing potential sentient machines (which this falls under that category) - there’s not going to be some magic that changes the laws of thermodynamics - but none of that will be comforting to the poor idiot that gets torn apart by a malfunctioning system or the victim of an intentionally destructive system created by a government or group that wants to kill people.

A person can dream.