The potato button is the apex of human technology

The potato button is the single greatest thing that mankind has ever achieved. Dwarfing sliced bread, slightly surpassing the Saturn V, and even edging out the Internet, the potato button expresses our unparalleled superiority over not just every other creature on this planet but over the primordial forces of nature themselves.

The potato button, for those that have not beheld its unmatched glory, is a button on our microwave that cooks potatoes. To experience the potato button's awesome power, one merely inserts one (or more) potato(es) into the microwave and pushes the potato button, just the potato button; one need not set a timer, choose a power level, or even, for that matter, push the start button. Some number of minutes after pushing the potato button, any raw potatoes one has inserted will emerge as baked potatoes (or a fantastically good faximile thereof).

The glory of the potato button comes from the combined technological force that is microwaves, heat sensors, microcontrollers capable of handling feedback systems, and the modern cultivated potato. The potato button is a technological tour de force that turns a relatively straightforward food preparation task into a task that is so utterly trivial as to require nigh on no conscious thought whatsoever.

Now, it may be the case that I am being a little tongue-in-cheek by suggesting that the potato button is more significant than the moon landing but I do firmly believe that the potato button is an absolutely quintessential example of why technology exists. Technology exists to make the trivialize the tasks that we must otherwise perform so as to allow us to perform grander tasks. Technology, in general, is much like software, in specific, because it allows us to take tasks, abstract them, and build larger tasks from those abstracted components.

The sheer simplicity of cooking a potato with the push of a single button is a gigantic step toward removing time and thought from preparing food. I am not suggesting that we should abandon cooking altogether; cooking is fun and rewarding as a task and group experience. Imagine, however, a world where you never have to think about food preparation, except as a hobby. In Star Trek, most food is replicated as needed; imagine how much time and productivity is gained by the removal of the time needed to prepare food. Sure restaurants, cafeterias, or mess halls can serve much the same purpose of removing the need for food preparation but those do not let you eat at home; delivery services allow one to eat from home without taking time to prepare food but from an infrastructure standpoint do not scale well. The more that we can use technology to trivialize the tasks of our lives, the more time we have to push beyond our currently confines and step up the technological ladder toward the future.

Seriously though, potatoes are great and being able to completely cook a potato by pushing one button is amazing.

Comments

once survival techniques such as cooking for subsistence are obsolete, humanity will reach a stage of idleness. will we use our time for good? for art, beauty, friendship? or will we drown in inanity? forever creating the next "potato button"? or perhaps we'll just be bored and pick wars with each other? the struggle for survival makes life interesting--even worth living.

That's all very nice, but you spelled 'facsimile' wrong.

Touché.