The Year is 2093. Nanotechnology has progressed to enhance and improve every aspect of our lives. Technology in general has permeated every level of human existence from genetically engineered birth to a greatly extended life-span, to a carefully planned death.
I have time travelled here to explore the future of humanity, the evolution of society, and possibly the most important thing of all, the state of the Sandwich in the distant future. The Sandwich? You ask, with a no doubt quizzical look on your face. Yes (bitch) The Sandwich. The best way to gauge a society, or future-society, as a whole, is not in the cutting edge of their technology, but in the basics, the fundamental building blocks of their day to day activities. There is nothing more human, regular and solid, than a modern day Sandwich. The Sandwich of the Future should tell us a lot about the progression of humanity, and so we begin.
After Leaving the United States in 2008, We arrive in New California in 2093. The United States dissolved after voting in George Bush the 3rd in 2024, So the particular land-mass known as North America is now known as The 2nd Republic of China, but other than a slight language curve, things are much the same.
I make my way to a nearby food dispensary. This particular chain, formerly known as Subway, is now called “Nano-Sandwich” but the aesthetic is mostly the same. The oddest thing about this new establishment, isn’t the new name or color-scheme. But the fact that it seems to have no employees and no food… My puzzlement is quickly eroded by finding a large colorful box marked “Food” with a single button. I look around and see no way to imply payment or to even customize an order, so I simply push the button.
A wave emanates from the machine and bathes my face in a soft glow for a moment, then a single chime sounds and a female voice sounds from inside my head.
“Scan Complete: Sandwich Urge detected. Forming Nano-Sandwich. Service is Courtesy, Enjoy.”
Not all of this immediately makes sense, but a few seconds later a somewhat normal looking sandwich appears on the platter in front of me. I take my platter and sit at one of the many available, and immaculate tables. I take a look at my sandwich. It appears to be made of White Bread and contain some almost colorless filling. All in all, it doesn’t look very appetizing.
I pick up the sandwich and almost instantly, its texture changes in my hand to that of a much more rustic and hand-made feeling bread. I’m impressed, this is interesting. The insides also rapidly gain color and become more meat-like and appetizing. Then a soft male voice speaks from right next to my face.
“Further Input is required to maximize taste and enjoyment”
With a start I drop the sandwich and it fades back to its colorless state. My head swivels around looking for the source of the voice and seeing no indication, I tenatively pick the sandwich back up. The same voice, obviously artificial, but clear and pleasant says,
“Chemical levels in your body indicate that you were frightened, I apologize for the upset. Please indicate what would maximize your enjoyment from today’s Nano-Sandwich”
Thinking out loud I say “Did my sandwich just talk?”
It responds in a snappy and upbeat fashion, “Yes! I’m happy to help you today, I am the artificial intelligence for Nano-Sandwich. I am meshed with the Restaurant network and engaged to help you enjoy your eating experience.”
“How the hell can I eat a sandwich that talks?” I query.
“I’m glad you asked that question” Says the sandwich cheerily “Using advanced Nano-Technology, I convert the outer layer of this sandwich into an acoustic model with which to communicate with you, but don’t worry, as you proceed with eating me, our automatic safety protocols will convert any part of the sandwich you come in contact with into inert and nutritious matter.”
I think about this for a minute… My sandwich talks to me and I can eat it. Okay, I can work with this.
“Uh, so I can eat you, can you become any type of sandwich?” I ask of it.
“Of course! I can emulate over 38 thousand types of potential sandwich combinations. Would you like to specify your ingredients or have me do this automatically based off your genetic disposition?”
I indicate the positive and the sandwich instructs me to take a bite of it. I oblige with a little nibble and the sandwich scans my taste buds and converts itself to what it considers I would most enjoy. I take another bite at the prompting of the voice and the flavor and texture have increased dramatically.
“That’s pretty good” I say through a mouthful.
“Thank you sir for your compliment” Responds the Sandwich “I Urge you to enjoy me to the fullest and let me know if there’s anything else I can do to make your eating of me more pleasurable.”
I stop for a second, curious now at the possibilities. “Can you…. taste better?” I ask quietly, not wanting to offend. Then upon realizing I’m talking with a sandwich I become slightly more emboldened, “Like is this the best a sandwich can get?” I ask.
The sandwich pauses, then responds “Entering Advanced Mode, Increasing Flavor, Increasing Texture receptors, Increasing integration protocol, Please state level of intensity from 1 to 100 for taste enhancement”
I pause, being cautious “Oh, ummm 50?” I venture
The sandwich responds “The Nano-Sandwich company in tandem with Food-Neuro Science Labs asks that you give your permission to engage your higher brian functions. While this process is found to be perfectly safe, we require a secondary waiver of intent above the level 40, do you give acceptance?”
After thinking for a minute, I slowly nod my head, then thinking that I just nodded to a disembodied voice I start to say something. I’m cut off by the sandwich who then says.
“Your acceptance is indicated and noted, enhancing high-level dynamics to level 50, please enjoy”
A long pause and nothing else happens, so I take another bite of the Sandwich. AMAZING! My mouth is flooded with an incredible dose of flavor. Almost overwhelmingly rich and filling every single molecule of my senses, I feel as if I’m eating a thousand sandwiches and each one is better than the last. My eyes water and my knees start to shake slightly, and that’s only the first bite.
I stop and reflect on this experience, I also reflect briefly on the idea that I’m forced to actually reflect on eating a sandwich. This is indeed impressive technology, but in the name of science, I must push forward.
“Sandwich” I say with more confidence, feeling like a have a better grip on the situation “I would like you to go to level 100”
The sandwiches voice falters for the first time during our entire conversation “Are… you sure?” it asks
“Yes” I reply impatiently,
“The Food-Neuro Science labs requires express permission to perform this fuction. By saying ‘Yes’ to this statement, only verbal responses will be accepted and you will disavow any repercussions from the Food Republic company and its affiliates, please indicate Yes or No at this time.” The sandwich says all in a rush.
This has thrown me off a little bit, but I’m assuming that nothing would allow me to actually harm myself, or it wouldn’t be an option, so I finally say “Yes”
The Sandwich shakes almost imperceptibly, but otherwise nothing else happens.
I lift the sandwich toward my mouth and before it even reaches my mouth my nostrils are overwhelmed with scent and by the time the sandwich actually hits my tongue I feel a wetness in my pants. Having urinated myself seems to have no effect on my enjoyment as my mind is whirled through an astounding new galaxy of taste, of form, function, smell, sensation… I briefly orgasm and a blood vessel in my left eye ruptures causing blood to course down my left cheek. This is all ignored as i continue chewing with the most serious and complete sense of contentment that I’ve ever experienced.
As I lose conciousness and slide down my chair into the fetal position on the floor, the last few bites of my sandwich on the floor next to me says,
“You appear to have enjoyed our services too severely, The Neuro-Science company is dispatching an ambulance to your location, please remain calm and…” Then everything is black.
The Sandwich of the Future is indeed Grim, and beautiful. After 3 months of recovery back in my current timeline of 2008, I can now write without assistance and form coherent sentences. I am however no longer allowed to enjoy sandwiches as they cause regressive shock that sends me into convulsions. But still I think we’ve learned a lot. I have to take my nap now. Goodbye.