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After a two-year wait, Upload, Amazon Prime Video's charming yet razor-sharp satire of our near future, returns for a seven-episode sophomore season on March 11. Set circa 2033, it's a fascinating and sometimes terrifying look at how our future could be even more intertwined with our technology.
In particular, it illustrates the haves and the have nots via Nathan (Robbie Amell) and Nora (Andy Allo). He was co-owner/coder of a tech startup who was attached to a very wealthy girlfriend, Ingrid (Allegra Edwards), at the time of his grizzly death in a car accident. Ingrid then uploads his consciousness into a very posh virtual afterlife resort, Lakeview, so she can still virtually interact with him. It's in that new reality that Nathan meets Nora, his virtual handler, aka Angel, for the company that gets paid to keep him alive in the digital afterlife.
We gotta admit, watching Nathan navigate the afterlife like it's an in-app purchase game on steroids doesn't exactly warm us to the idea of economic based eternity. However, Upload does sprinkle into its narrative a wealth of other very tempting tech that can't get here quick enough. SYFY WIRE presents the near future tech in Upload that we can't wait to get our geeky hands on for real.
Upload's Handphone is an ingenious invention that takes full advantage of form and function. In the future, instead of lugging around huge smartphones, the tech whizzes have integrated our phones right into our hands. Gone is the device. All you have to do is open your palm and that L-space between the index finger and the thumb becomes a hologram screen that allows you to accept video calls, look at your messages and anything else you would access on your cumbersome devices of today. With the gentle open and close of your palm to answer or hang up a call, it's the organic shift down our wrists from the Smart Watch to the Smart Hand that makes all the sense in the world. Who hasn't dreamed of a fanny pack-less answer to where you put your phone during events where you don't want to carry a bag or are pocketless? Perhaps more than any other tech example in the series, Upload has single-handedly made the Handphone a game changer in our heads already.
2. Self-driving cars
While not a new concept, Upload helped inch the self-driving cars in both Seasons 1 and 2 into something cool and worthy of their potential. In Season 1, Nathan helped the self-driving car potential by exhibiting that he had a model with a special controller that turned his smart-car into a video game racer that made the commute bearable. There's also interaction with the computer nav that's more interesting and useful than imagined in most self-driving car presentations. However, that whole easily hackable issue which helps bring about his demise is a big barrier to entry. In Season 2, there's even a two-seater design that gives us those Tron Light Cycle vibes which feels stylish but also cozy for the long drives where reading a book or taking a nap is going to be necessary.
3. Instant Food Printer
Star Trek certainly had this idea eons ago with Replicators that conjure the food choices of a myriad of species throughout the galaxy. But Upload's Food Printers feels like it could be the first, practical tech stepping stone to get us from a 3D printer to that Replicator dream. In Season 1, Nora's dad, Dave (Chris Williams) is a widow trying to navigate daily domesticity with his Food Printer. Now instead of watching a TV cooking show and trying to repeat it at home with your own skills, the Food Printer just takes the delicious outcome and reproduces it inside the box for your consumption. Certainly less messy than doing it yourself, and it satisfies those instant cravings that today's DoorDash and UberEats can't bypass yet.
4. Virtual Dog Therapists
Even in 2022, plenty of people today still feel the stigma of going to a therapist for a myriad of reasons from personal shame to the costs. But what if your therapist was a fluffy corgi? Upload has cracked the therapy divide by positing a near future that takes today's therapy dog to the next, best level. In both seasons, we get to see those who have uploaded or just using VR can have a therapy session with the world's smartest and scritch-appreciative therapists. They can hang out on your lap as you share your deepest problems or just sit across from you distilling wisdom with a floppy tongue. Just about everyone we know without a dander allergy would rather spend time with dogs than people, so this is the win-win for mental health we've all been hoping for. Even better if it was covered by bringing in a box of dog biscuits (organic, of course).
Upload frames dying and then putting your entire life of memories and experience into a virtual cloud as a rich person's playground. Everyone around Nathan either put their entire savings into their “afterlife” or they died with so much money, they didn't have to even worry about an extravagant next phase of existence. But Season 2 makes it even more clear that Nathan is at the mercy of Ingrid's money to remain 1) existing at all and 2) doing so in a way that isn't stuck in a white room of miserable 2G unlife. What Nathan was attempting to do with his code and software, Freeyond, would have leveled the playing field of death so that everyone could prepare for the best afterlife, regardless of economic standing. And that's clearly the better plan if delaying the inevitable is truly the eternity you're hoping for once dead.
The concept of reconnecting your uploaded memories back down into a corporeal body was first introduced in Upload Season 1 with some spectacularly frightening results. Let's just say the ensuing splat from the first attempt is bad. Very bad. In Season 2, that concept is revealed to be farther along in its beta testing despite some very dire after effects still in play. But isn't that really the endgame we'd all really prefer? If urban legend is true, that's what Walt Disney was hoping for with freezing his noggin for future science innovations. And if our inherent selves are truly in the soul, which per Upload is theoretically being uploaded into the cloud to then possibly be downloaded into new skin, we will still retain who we are in all the important ways. There's a lot of existential conversations swirling right behind the surface "cool" of it all, but if perfecting that process is a way to extend the things we love most about existing, then bring it on!