Molecular synthesis will be able to make foods that are considerably closer to natural ones than current processed products. You can eat meats no animals were killed to obtain and crops no wildlife habitat was displaced to grow. No release of genetically modified organisms into the environment will be necessary to include as much of whatever vitamins and nutrients you need into whatever you like to eat. And the foods will be synthesized fresh just before being cooked or eaten, with no need even for a refrigerator. Indeed they could simply be synthesized cooked, with no need for a stove.
The dishes could be synthesized along with the food, and then simply dropped dirty into the recycler. Of course, with nanotechnology, you could mkae solid diamond plates that would come clean with the merest wave under the faucet, but the long-term trends are clear: manufactured items get cheaper, and space gets more exppensive (on Earth, anyway). So the typical domestic arrangements will tend toward making things when and where they are needed, and recycling rather than storage.Some of my own predictions (not prophecies):
- Some people will still insist on eating naturally grown food. Real meat will probably be outlawed in California first. New York second.
- “Naturalism” will either become something of a popular religion or else people will become even more lazy and sedate than they are already. Why bother planning or saving when anything can be had at the moment you need it? The latter seems much more likely, but what use will the machines have for their eloi? Almost certainly not battery power.
- The distinguishing characteristic of the wealthy will no longer be the possession of more, bigger, or better-made stuff, (at least not so much as today) but more beautifully or more naturally made stuff. Food as an art form will no longer be the near-exclusive domain of expensive restaurants, but of digital artists and their patrons.
- Can you imagine the insanity of a fashion industry driven by the imagination and whim of the minute-to-minute consumer? You would be able to wear virtually anything that you could describe in sufficient detail.
What else can we look forward to as true nanotechnology becomes a reality over the next century?