Reminder: For the next several Fridays, we are going to provide a writing prompt based on a technology we think is ripe for a coordinated research program. In the comments, we want you to create a piece of flash fiction that includes the prompt technology in some way!
Title: The Forge of Possibilities
Once upon a time in a not-so-distant future, a small town named Forgeville stood as a testament to the reimagined landscape of manufacturing. Nestled in the heart of a rural countryside, this unassuming town was the birthplace of a revolutionary concept: on-demand custom production, powered by a collaborative network of modern machines.
At the heart of Forgeville, towering over the landscape, stood the Home Depot of the future. Customers no longer perused rows of pre-made appliances; instead, they stepped into a realm of endless possibilities. The store's innovative center, known as the "Forge," was a pulsating hub of creativity and production.
Inside the Forge, customers embarked on an immersive journey. They sat and talked with AI designers, discussing their unique needs and visions. Ideas flowed freely, as dreams transformed into tangible designs through the aid of advanced CAD tools. Every person became a creator, their imagination driving the manufacturing process.
In the depths of the Forge, the orchestra of modern machinery danced harmoniously. Autonomous factories whirred and hummed, orchestrating an intricate ballet of creation. Laser and water jet cutters sliced through materials with precision, guided by the carefully crafted digital blueprints. 3D printers seamlessly fused layer upon layer of molten plastic at speeds once thought impossible, solidifying the ethereal designs into reality.
In one corner of the Forge, the refrigeration district buzzed with activity. The store’s collaboration with appliance manufacturers had birthed a new era for custom refrigerators. Customers marveled as their chosen designs materialized before their eyes. The manufacturing process was swift, and within hours, the unique refrigerators were ready for installation. Gone were the days of limited options and a constant lack of freezer space. In Forgeville, every home boasted a personalized masterpiece.
Beyond the Forge, a group of passionate engineers and innovators assembled in a hidden workshop. United by a shared vision of accessible technology, they formed an open-source movement. Their current mission? To reinvent the core of industrial machinery: the electric motor.
Word of their efforts spread like wildfire, catching the attention of manufacturers worldwide. The movement sparked an electrifying revolution, redefining the landscape of transportation and industry. Inspired by the open-source designs, countless individuals crafted their own electric motors, previously an endeavor reserved for the select few. The world witnessed the emergence of a new era of sustainable innovation, driven by the collective ingenuity of the masses.
In the midst of this technological marvel, Forgeville became a symbol of hope and progress. Autonomous factories, powered by renewable energy, dotted the surrounding countryside. They hummed silently, transforming once desolate landscapes into thriving centers of production. The rise of these self-sufficient factories breathed life back into forgotten communities, bringing economic opportunities to places long overshadowed by the bustling cities.
The sun began to set over Forgeville, casting a warm glow over the horizon. In the twilight, the town stood as a testament to the extraordinary power of reimagining the supply chain. It was a place where dreams met reality, where modern machines forged a path to a future beyond imagination.
As the residents of Forgeville basked in the fruits of their labor, they knew they had unlocked a world of possibilities. The convergence of modern tooling, autonomous factories, and open-source innovation had ushered in an era where creation knew no boundaries. And in the heart of this small town, the flame of progress burned brighter than ever, illuminating a path toward a future shaped by the dreams of many.
Keira Stone refreshed Luca’s Twitter likes page for perhaps the 5th time in an hour. Nothing new was popping up, the last tweet Luca liked was some Elon Musk tweet, negging some journalist. Luca would usually like a few posts before heading to sleep at midnight, but a quick look at her watch told Keira that midnight had come and gone about 2 hours ago.
She checked out Snapchat, maybe there was a party going on tonight that Luca was attending? After tapping on all the usual people’s stories, she found nothing. Some other school’s party then? She pulled up Luca’s Instagram to confirm her hypothesis, glancing at his follower count. It was still the exact number it had been last night, and the night before. Luca hadn’t met anyone new, making it unlikely that he was at someone’s schoolnight rager.
There was a reason Keira Stone was class president, head of the most successful biohacking group in the country, and author of one of the most successful book-review blogs on the internet–– Keira went through every single detail, all the time, methodically and never mediocrely. Life had taught her that being obsessive with a one-track mind was a surefire way to get what you want. So, the things Keira did to catch Luca’ Giodini’s attention were many and varied. There was the humming of his favorite songs whenever he’d walk past her (sourced from scraping his public playlists on Youtube Music and Spotify). There was the boatload of caramel-apple perfume Keira doused herself with whenever she and Luca would cross paths across school corridors. (Luca once had scarfed down 10 apples during a Halloween festival while Keira took note, watching on with fascination). And, finally, ofcourse, there was the meticulous cyber-stalking. After all, the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. Why wouldn’t it extend to matters of the heart?
She pulled up her phone and scrolled down to refresh Twitter for the sixth time and was rewarded with an instant dopamine surge.
“Luca liked a video about axolotls dancing on a lotus leaf.” - 2 mins ago
“Amazing! I’ve always loved axolotls” - 0xLucaG
This was new! Luca rarely tweeted or replied to tweets. As she watched the axolotls crawling across the terrarium floor, an idea began forming in her mind.
Hurrying over to her closet, she put her hands on her hips and stared at the OLED screen on the cabinet’s side. She picked out the design of a dress she liked–– puffy sleeves with a sweetheart neckline and then clicked new tab to open a split-screen, surfing the web to pull up a picture of an axelotl. She dragged the picture on top of the dress and clicked the flashing “merge design” button that it prompted. Her trusty Fashionistaxx7000 could compost her old clothing as well as every single piece it 3D-printed. You could also feed it trash–– it could make certain types of glitter out of plastic bottles, bioleather out of foodscraps, and it had various other features depending on the materials you fed into it.
Tomorrow, Keira Stone would show up in school wearing the chic-est axolotl-inspired dress… Luca Giodini would never know what hit him.
Sarah could hear the sirens screeching in the background, but her attention was focused on the horrible scene in front of her.
The hurricane’s winds were unlike anything they had seen before. Even their boarded up windows were no match for the strong gales.
And now Axel lay there on the ground, his hand crushed.
She was already contacting the emergency services.
“What’s your emergency?” the polite robotic voice queried, as cheerful as ever despite the circumstances.
“Axel… My husband… His hand…”
“Please close your eyes and take a deep breath,” the voice suggested.
Sarah closed her eyes, but couldn’t get the image out of her head.
“Please explain to me the issue.”
“I can’t…” she sobbed.
“Allow me to take a picture,” the voice prompted.
“Allowed,” Sarah managed to croak.
Suddenly the camera on her glasses activated, examining the scene in front of her.
“I observe one man, on the ground, with a hand injury. It appears to be highly damaged.”
“Can’t you do something?” Sarah’s voice was now barely audible.
“Scans indicate hand requires replacement.”
“But we can’t get to the hospital. The streets are flooded.”
“In the back of the photo I detected a BioForge printer.”
Sarah nodded, even though the voice wouldn’t be able to see that. She was a product manager for the latest biotech printers. One prototype sat in their office, though it hadn’t been fully tested.
“I don’t know if it’ll work. It’s still in development.”
“I’ve generated a 3D replacement using the photos. It can be sent to the printer.”
Sarah raced over to the device. The file was sent from her glasses into the machine’s memory. After a quick warm-up, it got to work building the scaffolding. She was scared, but knew this was the only way to do it in time.
Suddenly the machine shut down and her heart skipped a beat. What was happening?
The lights above her flickered as well. She realized the power was going out. The power lines couldn’t handle the winds either. But without electricity, there would be no way to save him.
She grabbed the raincoat hanging on the wall with a great deal of tension. Could she really go out there, in this storm? As she looked back at the print, she knew she had to brave it for her husband.