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Here's a frightening (heh) glimpse of the future:

- - - begin extract

[From: Discourse with Disposable Computers:
       How and Why you will talk to your tomatoes 
       by Arnold, Segall, Boot, Bond, Lloyd, and Kaplan, DSTC.EDU.AU
       http://www.dstc.edu.au/Elvin/papers/es99/es99.html
       ]

3. Pasta, circa 2005

Somewhere in Germany there is a factory that produces the little cans that
canned food goes into. This factory makes cans that appear perfectly normal
it's just that each can contains a tiny computer, a small amount of memory,
and a short-range radio transceiver. It's a smart can and the factory that
makes them charges eight pfennigs more for each one. As part of their
production, the cans get embedded with a small amount of data such as the
date of manufacture, the batch and can number, the alloy details etc.

Once produced these cans travel all over Europe. One batch of these cans is
sent to Italy where they go to a tomato-canning factory and are filled with
tomatoes. At this factory, as part of the canning process, the can gathers
a little more data: it is full of diced Roma tomatoes, it was filled on a
certain date as part of a particular batch, and it has a particular use-by
date.

One of these cans of tomatoes gets exported to the USA. As it moves off the
wharf it is processed and its data content is translated from Italian to
English. After a brief stint in a warehouse it ends up on a supermarket
shelf. At the supermarket it inherits a little more information such as the
retail price and date of being placed on the shelf. At some point a
customer's pantry knows to order the can and one is sent to your house in
the next delivery. Before the can leaves the store, the supermarket
extracts the information it needs for stocktaking.

Some weeks later you're at your desk at work thinking about dinner, and
decide that tonight you're going to cook a romantic meal for two. You look
up your recipes, select one, and check your pantry for the necessary
ingredients. Your tomatoes have cheerfully registered themselves to the
pantry upon arrival, so it is able to report that all you need is some
fresh basil that you can pick up on the way home.

At the supermarket, you find the basil and drop it into the trolley, which
updates the cumulative price of your selections. Noticing the screen's
flicker, you glance down and see an advertisement for a special on oregano.
You cancel it and disable further advertising.

Finally done, you push the trolley through the checkout, where your account
is debited for the total, and your home address attached to your items. You
push the trolley onto the track for delivery before heading to the cafe for
a coffee on the way home as the store delivers the shopping for you.

At home you begin to cook, placing the opened can of tomatoes from the
pantry onto the table. The can reports that it has been opened (after
detecting the pressure differential).

You've been meaning to get the auto-light on your gas stove fixed for weeks
now and seemingly every time you want to light it you can't find the
matches. You ask the kitchen to locate the nearest box for you: there's one
in the cutlery drawer. You've had enough though, so you direct the kitchen
to factor the stove repair into your budget. Your stove knows not to hassle
you again.

Having enjoyed your meal, you turn on the television but during the first
ad break a scrolling message from the kitchen appears at the bottom of the
screen telling you that there's an open can of tomatoes that's been getting
warm for over two hours. You swear briefly, but are at least glad the house
didn't interrupt while you were busy. It knows you're not watching an
important show and it did have the decency to wait for an ad break. You go
to the kitchen and put the can into the fridge, pausing briefly to put the
matches back on the fridge where you expect them.

Three days later you wake up and struggle to the kitchen for a cup of
coffee. As you grab the milk, you see the fridge's display panel has a
number of messages for you. You'll deal with the emails later but notice
that the fridge is complaining that there is a can of tomatoes that is
getting beyond its prime. At first you can't find them, but the fridge
locates them behind the last of the beer, and you grab the can and blend
them. Enjoying your tomato juice with your coffee, you begin a casual
cleanup and throw the empty can into the recycling unit.

The recycling unit strips any personal information from the can, and
noticing the alloy content ensures it gets picked up for recycling. Some
time later the can is shipped to Germany for recycling.

- - - end extract
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Earth: too weird to destroy.
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alexsiodhe, christopher north-keys, christopher alex north-keys