AtomaCon Charleston, South Carolina May 7th, 8th, and 9th 2021
by Dennis M. Myers, 10/12/2019
One of the things I postulated in my stories was that meat would be almost entirely manufactured. It's similar to the technology you need to recreate missing limbs or replacement tissue for people, so I figured it would be a natural outgrowth. Recent developments like the Impossible Burger, and other non-animal proteins also caught my attention.
While I never go into it in detail, in my mind the meat that my characters eat isn't some plant based replacement. Although that would remain a flavor option, the actual meat products would be based on animal cells, but they would be from cell lines taken from livestock centuries earlier, and grown in a continuous stream of edible tissue.
This morning I read a story about how they have just grown meat in orbit. My meat manufacturing process has just had a successful proof of concept. Some important points the article makes about zero gravity printing are interesting as well. My orbital meat factories must have manufacturing areas in their hubs that I had overlooked. No big deal. The only place where we have action in my stories is the waste processing plant, and that would be easier with gravity, so it doesn't need to be changed.
I wonder if Robert Heinlein felt this way when they started making the first waterbeds. It amazes me the world of wonders we live in today. Things people take for granted that were pure science fiction when I was a kid. What things of science fiction do we think about now that will become an everyday part of life in the future? My bet is on automation. Self driving vehicles, task oriented robotics that are flexible enough to meet more needs that we had thought possible. We already have robotic bartenders on cruise liners. I can imagine cleaning systems that can enter a standard room, strip it of everything but the basics, give it a deep clean, then remake the beds, restock the fridge and bathroom supplies, and exit. This would be a great benefit to ocean liners. It would make turnover in port a lot easier. They could show up in hotels, too. Places where the rooms are of one or two layouts would be perfect for systems like this.
As for self-driving vehicles, they are already on our roads, learning at a breathtaking pace. Tesla has created the largest data collecting network ever seen for this project. They've just bought a company that specializes in taking this kind of data and analyzing it to put it to use. Apparently, Tesla had too much data, and bought this company to deal with it.
Back to the manufactured meat for a moment, and one thought that keeps popping into my head that I am not sure I want to address. Simple thing, if you take a few human cells, and grow tissue, could you sell it as meat? I wanted to just say no. But remember, my first story starts fifty years after the last governments fell. The corporations rule the day, now. I don't think they would prevent it, if there was a market. I mean, what would be the actual harm? No humans would have died to create the meat, and the tissue involved would never have actually been a part of a thinking, living, human being. So, as distasteful as it might be to most of us, I'm betting it might have been a big seller at one point. Maybe the novelty has worn off, and maybe pork just tastes better. But it is an interesting question.
Here is a video I saw recently. It has a lot of good stuff in it.