Computing power is now ubiquitous, available everywhere. Chips have become smaller and smaller allowing them to be embedded in all devices. With computing being faster than human processing, the technology is used to augment human beings. The charge is led by IBM and their artificial intelligence agent Watson, moving ahead to augment and replace even the most human senses (https://www.wired.com/insights/2013/01/coming-soon-computers-will-use-the-five-senses-to-enhance-our-lives/). The words of Howard Mumford Jones (A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics From the Bottom Down, Robert Laughlin, pg. 59) could not be any more relevant, society finds itself in place where the most basic senses of man are not trusted. Data and computers reign supreme.
One of the most exciting developments is the ability to identify and separate the individual components that make up the flavor of our foods. Taste was one of the final frontiers in human augmentation and this created an opportunity for a range of new products. The most successful of these product is the smart fork. Using a proprietary model, any means can now be defined along the 5 basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and unami, flavors further broken down along the dimensions of pungency, coolness, numbness, astringency, metallicness, calcium, fattiness, heartiness, temperate and starchiness. This allows flavors to be defined along a total of 15 dimensions. With the model embedded inside a fork, it allows a person to get a reading to indicate if the food matches their personal flavor profile or not. By touching the fork onto food, a series of indicators on the edge of the fork tell the person if the food matches their profile. Red lights indicate a mismatch and green indicate a match. In addition to alerting people if food matches their taste profiles, the fork allows people to display their personal taste mark.
The development was received warmly, the first to accept the product into their lives were mothers’ of babies with dietary allergies. Finally, there was a way to protect their children from the life threatening effects of allergies. Following closely were adults with food allergies and sensitive stomachs. While the conditions were not as life threatening, the ability to avoid discomfort embarrassment in public setting were proved extremely popular. The fork made a great present for avid traveller, allowing them to confidently explore the world. In 2025, the fork was selected as the #1 gift by Wired magazine. The fork spread into mainstream usage, pretty soon everyone had their own personal fork. In restaurants it became common place to see people pulling out their own fork at dinners, restaurants even began asking people if they wanted to use their fork or one provided by the establishment. As people became aware of their personal tastes, the desire to experiment with food dwindled, what motivation is there to try new flavors when you can have what you know you can enjoy. No more do we have to sit through mom’s bad cooking, there was no denying the fork, it could tell empirically and objectively whether we liked the food or not. What becomes of this world, sharing meals had traditionally form a core part of society and experience, the fork broke these structures. While we ate together in the space, there was no sharing of meals, each person ate what they fork told them they would like. It was the truly a world of living alone in a crowd.