Was your meal hand-made by a master chef or crafted as the result of a series of advanced computer algorithms in a computer operated by a master chef? With the increasing amount of technology being used today in the food industry, it’s getting harder to know for certain.
From Printing Your Own Spaceship in the 1940s…
With so many different technologies in use by so many different companies, it’s hard to really point to any single date of introduction. However, when it comes to the more fantastic technologies such as 3D printing and drone technology, date-finding becomes a bit easier.
One of the first-known references to a 3D printer comes from Murray Leinster’s short story “The Things Pass By,” published in 1945. In this story, one of the characters talks about spraying chemicals out of a robotic arm to create a spaceship much the same way as modern 3D printers.
Drone technology technically draws its roots from rotary airplanes and helicopters, with hand-drawn depictions of drones being found in the drawings of Leonardo DaVinci back in the 1500s.
… to Printing Your Own Pizza in the 2010s
Nowadays, 3D printing works in a way almost identical to the concept employed in Leinster’s short story; however, it’s far more useful than just for printing spaceship pieces. For example, a company known as BeeHex started using 3D printers to create pizzas.
While pizzas are no doubt interesting, what is perhaps more interesting is the technological precedent set by this pizza-printing. Imagine forgetting to buy tomatoes at the grocery store. Instead of having to go all the way back, you could just print one or two in your living room.
Drone technology is also helping facilitate the increased production capacity of farms through a process known as precision agriculture. Essentially, the drones fly over the crops performing necessary tasks while removing a vast amount of time and labor from the backs of the farmers.
Sci-Fiction’s Portrayal of Food Technology
Many futurists and transhumanists are hopeful that, one day, the 3D printing food industry might turn out to be like the replicators in the Star Trek world, capable of rearranging matter to create any kind of food for which it has the recipe seemingly out of thin air.
While everybody is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when it comes to the idea of printing virtually limitless supplies of food, people don’t share the same optimism for drones, particularly because of their presence as the antagonists in countless science fiction films, novels, and short stories.
In the Terminator franchise, drones known as HK (hunter killer) drones, fly around gunning down any signs of organic life.
Of course, we have a long way to go before either of these possibilities become reality. If we’re lucky, by some miracle of technological design, we just might be able to enjoy our replicators for a couple decades before Skynet uses them to enslave us. Here’s to hoping!