Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In the future: Pod people

In the future, there will be three kinds of people: pod people, city people, and land people. But most people will be pod people.

Pod people will live in pod colonies. There will be many pod colonies all over the world. Most will be built facing the ocean, with a few in other geographically desirable areas. Each pod colony will consist of a single massive structure, designed to house several thousand pod people as comfortably, efficiently, and stylishly as possible. The architectural designs of the pod colonies will vary wildly, but functionally, they will be nearly identical. Pod colonies will provide spaces for pod people to sleep, eat, work, learn, and play.

The defining element of the pod colony will be the pod itself. Within each colony, pods will share an identical core structure, but will be endlessly customizable to the most precise and eccentric specifications of the inhabitant. Pods will be extremely compact, but the size will be more than adequate because they will be so perfectly calibrated to the inhabitant's needs. All pods will be constructed using materials of the highest quality, and will be arranged with the utmost attention to ergonomics and aesthetic appeal.

All pods will be equipped with an array of sophisticated technology. Pods will be self-cleaning, thanks to automated systems that require no effort on the part of the inhabitant, aside from occasional straightening up and putting away of personal items. Beds will make themselves with the flick of a switch, and the entire pod will routinely sterilize itself while the inhabitant is elsewhere, ensuring that the air is always fresh, dust is never permitted to accumulate, carpets are always vacuumed, and bathrooms always sparkle. Garbage shoots will instantly whisk all waste away to be sorted and either discarded or reused as appropriate, and laundry shoots will similarly remove soiled clothing to be cleaned in a central location.

Built-in computers will serve as communication and entertainment systems, offering inhabitants on demand access to any type of media at any time. These machines will include large screens with a small ticker visible in one corner at all times, regardless of what else is being displayed on the screen. The ticker will track the user's media consumption and virtual communication habits in an easily digestible format, broken down into various categories and subcategories. Pod technology will be sleek, sexy, and intuitive: all the most seductive Apple products rolled into one flawless device.

There will be pods for singles, pods for couples, and pods for families with up to two children. Single pods will include one computer, one desk, one desk chair, one bed, one bedside table, one wardrobe/chest of drawers, one toilet, one bathroom sink, one shower, a small refrigerator, a small kitchen sink, a small counter for very basic food preparation, a single burner for very basic food preparation, a small love seat, a coffee table, and one additional chair of the inhabitant's choice: either a simple upholstered chair, a recliner, or a chaise lounge. Couples pods will be similar, but each inhabitant will have his or her own computer, desk, desk chair, bedside table, wardrobe/chest of drawers, bathroom sink, and additional chair. The bed, sofa, and refrigerator will be slightly larger than in single pods. Single and individual pods will consist of two rooms: a living/sleeping space, and a bathroom. Family pods will be divided into five rooms, for the sake of privacy: a shared living space, one bedroom for the parents, one bedroom for the children, one bathroom for the parents, and one bathroom for the children. Each child will have his or her own computer, desk, desk chair, bedside table, wardrobe/chest of drawers, bathroom sink, and additional chair. The sofa, refrigerator, kitchen sink, and kitchen counter will be slightly larger than in couples pods, and a second burner will be provided. Couples and families will be limited to one chaise lounge per pod. All pods will include adequate lighting.

In essence, each pod will resemble a small but luxurious room (or suite, in the case of family pods) in a fashionable boutique hotel, but with expressive customization options reminiscent of a MySpace profile, communication and entertainment systems reminiscent of an enormous iPad, and a robotic maintenance system reminiscent of The Jetsons.

In addition to thousands of private pods, each pod colony will contain cafeterias, fitness centers, offices, classrooms, libraries, and socialization areas. All pod people will be considered members of the pod colony in which they live, and will have equal access to all community spaces.

The cafeterias will serve healthy and delicious food in correct portion sizes. Snacks and desserts will be provided in moderation, and gorging will not be facilitated. Pod food will be simple and natural, and all food will be made from fresh, raw, organic ingredients on the premises. Most ingredients will be grown on the roof of the pod colony, or on small farms on the land immediately surrounding the pod colony. Pod colonies will sometimes trade with other pod colonies for specialty items. Some ingredients, meat in particular, will be procured from land people. However, before agreeing to accept meat or other animal products from land people, pod colonies will thoroughly verify that animals were raised humanely and sustainably, without hormones, antibiotics, or unnatural feeds. Any pod person who prefers to prepare his or her own food will be welcome to do so in the communal kitchen of any cafeteria, where plenty of natural ingredients and the highest caliber tools and equipment will be made available.

Fitness centers will be open twenty-two hours per day. Once every twelve hours, the fitness center will close for one hour to sterilize itself. There will be a wide variety of machines, equipment, and classes, and pod people will be encouraged to explore different types of exercise. Personal trainers will be available for support and motivation, and to ensure that pod people are performing exercises safely and correctly. Personal trainers will be warm, welcoming people who do not judge or intimidate. Yoga will be quite popular among the pod people, and in many pod colonies, some of the most attractive spaces with the most beautiful views will be designated for the practice of yoga.

Pod people will have access to a myriad of therapists and analysts who will be happy to discuss anything at all, from the most trifling neurosis to the most debilitating trauma. There will be matchmakers to help pod people find the perfect mate and dermatologists to help pod people perfect their skin. All pod people will have equal access to health care, which will be easy to provide, since pod colonies will be quite safe and there will be few accidents, and since everyone will have the necessary resources and education to remain as healthy as possible. There will be design consultants, aesthetic experts who will offer their assistance in order to maintain the overall attractiveness of the pod colony and its inhabitants.

Every pod person will receive an education that exalts and encourages empathy, intellectual curiosity, analytical ability, personal expression, and imagination. This education will endorse no theology, but will instead foster a combination of healthy skepticism and nurtured spirituality. Pod teachers will not promote notions of separatism, elitism, or nationalism.

Since all pod people will have access to all media electronically, print will become impractical and unnecessary. However, some pod people will still prefer to read words printed on paper at times, and each pod colony will contain an extensive library of physical books and magazines for this purpose.

Socialization areas will be tailored to a staggeringly wide range of interests. There will be spaces for people who like kittens, spaces for people who like trance music, spaces for people who like classical music, spaces for people who play video games, spaces for people who want to have sex, spaces for people who take various drugs. (All recreational drugs will be legal and freely available to any pod person over the age of eighteen who passes a brief educational course and exam.) These socialization areas will be easy to navigate and open to any pod person at any time, with the exception of a few spaces which will be off limits to pod people under the age of eighteen.

Pod colonies will have no currency. All colony members will have all their basic needs provided for, and will have access to unlimited media and communication, for free, for as long as they choose to live in pods. Anyone who wishes to become a member of a pod colony may join freely, and will be assigned his or her own private pod. However, all perspective members must agree to fulfill the following requirements:

1. All pod people must contribute to the colony. All community roles will be performed on a voluntary basis. Teachers, chefs, personal trainers, yoga instructors, engineers, therapists, design consultants, and so on, will do their jobs because they find them interesting and satisfying, and because they wish to contribute to their colony. Their only additional reward will be personal pride and, if they are good at their jobs, recognition from the community. Those who are not drawn to a particular role will be assisted in discovering a passion, and those who are uninterested in pursuing a community role out of passion or interest will be encouraged to take on more menial tasks. These jobs, though rote and not particularly fulfilling, will be fairly easy, since the true drudgery will be handled by robots. There will be no specific requirements for what "contributing to the community" entails, and pod people will always be free to devote a day or several to leisure and relaxation. However, if a pod person routinely refuses to make any sort of contribution, it will eventually be brought to the attention of the community, and appropriate, considered measures will be taken on a case by case basis.

2. Hatred and cruelty will not be permitted. Acts of violence will be strictly prohibited, outside of a few designated socialization pods. No pod person will be allowed to inflict suffering on another pod person. Disagreements must be resolved through logical, articulate discussion, and if that is not possible, a conflict resolution specialist will be called upon to facilitate harmony. If a pod person cannot resolve a disagreement peacefully, he or she may be put into temporary isolation or even ejected from the colony.

3. Pod people must be committed to sustainability, in all forms. Unnecessary consumption, destruction, and waste will be discouraged. Each couple will be permitted to produce a maximum of two children. Single parenthood will be socially accepted, and a single parent will be assured of having all the resources necessary for her or himself and her or his child. However, single parents will be limited to one child per individual. (A single mother may have two children as long as the father or fathers do not have additional children with other women. Paternity tests will be administered when there is any doubt.)

Birth control will be provided to all pod people, and most pregnancies will be planned. The very few accidental pregnancies that do occur will be discovered almost immediately, and a quick, safe, painless abortion will be an easily available, socially acceptable option. Adoption will also be an easily available, socially acceptable option. Same-sex couples and infertile opposite-sex couples who wish to raise one or two children will be encouraged to adopt from among the few unwanted, orphaned, or abandoned children, or children who have been removed from unfit parents. (Parents who find themselves unsuited to parenthood will have the option of giving their child to a same-sex or infertile couple who have applied, and they will be free to visit that child throughout his or her life, should the child agree to continue such a relationship.)

Once a woman has given birth to her second child, she must either: A. agree to be sterilized, B. agree to take birth control and abort any accidental pregnancies, C. agree to adopt out any future children to a qualified couple who cannot have children of their own, D. file for a special dispensation to exceed the two child limit and convince a committee that she is uniquely suited to raising well adjusted members of the community, or E. agree to take all of her children and leave the pod colony if she does become pregnant with a third child and subsequently refuse to abort it or give it up for adoption. In the event that a woman becomes pregnant with twins, triplets, etc., exceptions to the limits can be made.

4. In order to partake of the infinite cornucopia of media, pod people must provide feedback. In some cases, they will simply be prompted to click a button indicating whether they "like," "dislike," or are "unsure" about any post, video, or image. At other times, required feedback may consist of a somewhat but not unreasonably extensive survey. Usually, there will be an option to include a written comment, but comments must adhere to basic grammatical structure, capitalization and punctuation. Comments that do not meet this standard will be rejected by the comment filter. As long as the commenter displays a functional command of his or her native language, though, the comment will be read and considered by a qualified party. Feedback will be used for the continued enhancement of the media and technology available to all pod people.

In the future, this is how the pod people will live.


Ed said...

I'm most certainly in favor of anything invoking liberal policies towards chaise lounges.

Swifter said...

I guess this makes you and Ed two peas in a Pod.

Drew Byrne said...

In the future...people will be very much the same as they are now...only more so.