Hey Jarvis, Are You Just an Imagination?
Mon, 11 Nov 2019 || By Anaq Duanaiko

This article will explain how technologies were only mere imagination until they are invented. It could be assumed that it is easier to imagine what will the future be, rather than creating the future itself. Imagination as a base of an idea then plays an essential role in technology advancement, but the act of inventing plays a more prominent role. Therefore, a brief philosophical explanation is needed to drive both imagination and practical skills to invent the future.


As humans who live in an environment with rapid technological inventions, we often ask ourselves how one does think about creating new technology. It is essential to think that technology is like art, soaring from the practice of human imagination that turns into reality.[1] By understanding this concept from Daniel Bell, the future of technology exists in the present times, in humans' present imagination. The existence of human imagination then creates prototypical technologies in the form of visual arts such as movies.

Movies as media that has shown the society the image of the world that they created and how to be “the imagined world” itself. This “imaginary world” recognised as a term called mediascape, where “the imagined world” affects the imagination of the society.[2] In reality, the innovation of sophisticated technology is created by the demands of society in the form of aspiration. The aspiration comes from the outcome of the value and the processed imagination within the society.[3] Thus, the constant reproduction of imagination and then will eventually become a reality since the functionality of the imagined object is expected to exist and on-demand and be considered as future visions on technology.

Example of an Imagination

Future visions can be perceived as a collection of contested resources that provide meaning and ideas for immediate actions.[4] Visions of the future provided by movies such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe where J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) is an AI that helps literally everything a human could ask. This imaginative technology has inspired the CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg to create a voice-controlled home assistant called Jarvis in 2016.[5] Business Insider Singapore then brought this event and explained how Zuckerberg’s Jarvis works by using diagrams.

Image 1. What Jarvis Can Do[6]

From the diagrams in Image 1, Jarvis is capable of what Zuckerberg wanted to be in his home systems, such as his toaster and his T-shirt cannon. Zuckerberg’s imagination drove him to create them into something real and functional for his own needs. Jarvis implies that imagination, especially imagining how technology could help our personal needs and desire. Turning imagination into a functional reality becomes an expectation, not just a visual property.

Expecting Future Technology

As movies project many examples of future technology-based on imagination, it is essential to keep the imaginations reproduce in the media to create an expectation on future technologies. It should be recognised that Zuckerberg is capable of inventing technologies, and this capability does not apply to other people. Having the imagination of future technology with no capabilities of inventing technology would not have any impact on the future of technology itself. This is why technology inventions need to be a collaboration of ideas and technical skills, and having both bits of knowledge could be considered as a privilege in this rapid creation of technologies.

Inventors are having the privilege of owning the capability to invest imaginative technology into something real. It shows that ideas that are used for inventions do not only come from inventors head, but also people’s aspiration where the authenticity of an idea couldn’t be solemnly claimed by inventors themselves. Therefore, the rapid creation technologies based on people’s imagination created a new sphere where the disparity within those who can invent and imagine. For those only can imagine becomes something that needs to be addressed.

Editor: Anisa Pratita Mantovani

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[1] Bell, D. (1980). The winding passage: essays and sociological journeys, 1960-1980 (pp. 3-33). Cambridge: Abt Books.

[2] Appadurai, A., (1996). Modernity al large: cultural dimensions of globalization (Vol. 1). U of Minnesota Press.

[3] Decker, M, Nora Weinberger, Bettina-Johanna Krings & Johannes Hirsch. (2017). Imagined technology futures in demand-oriented technology assessment, Journal of Responsible Innovation, 4:2, 177-196, DOI: 10.1080/23299460.2017.1360720

[4] Schulz, M. S. (2015) ‘Future moves: Forward-oriented studies of culture, society, and technology’, Current Sociology, 63(2), pp. 129–139. doi: 10.1177/0011392114556573.

[5] Heath, A. (2016). Mark Zuckerberg built his own virtual assistant — here’s how it works. Business Insider Singapore [online]. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.sg/how-mark-zuckerberg-personal-smart-home-assistant-jarvis-works-2016-12/?r=US&IR=T. [Accessed on 10 0ct 2019]

[6] Ibid