10 things from Harry Potter that actually exist ⚡️ (we don’t have magic, but we have technology!)

Ou le défi d’écrire en anglais pour faire honneur à J.K.Rowling

After spending 4 years in the recruiting department of an international bank, I moved for another position in a digital transformation program within the same company. What I observed since my graduation is that technology is influencing — not to say disrupting — business models, job markets and our personal lives. This shift we are experiencing fascinates me, so I’m trying to keep myself up to date with the latest discoveries and inventions. From my perspective, every step forward brings a little more magic to our lives. 🌟

As long as I can remember, I have always been enchanted by magic. Of course, I’m an absolute fan of the Harry Potter series. It is thus not surprising that I started to make parallels between technological breakthroughs and Harry Potter’s magic. It was even more obvious to me, as the wizarding world coexists with our reality. Recently, I started to list my ideas to open the discussion. So here are the 10 things from Harry Potter we use (or will use very soon) in our daily lives!

 

1. Live Photos vs Moving Pictures

When I discovered this new Apple feature, I immediately thought about the photo album Hagrid gave Harry during his first year at Hogwarts.

Baby Harry with his parents, James and Lily Potter

It might be dumb, but at this moment I felt as if magic was entering our world at last. I was very excited. I spoke about this to Harry Potter fans among my friends and colleagues, and they agreed! I guess the idea of this article emerged at that time.

To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if some Apple’s team members confessed that they have been inspired by Harry Potter’s moving pictures for Live Photos. 😏

2. Speech-to-Text vs Quick-Quotes Quill

Rita Skeeter’s Quick-Quotes Quill

Do you remember this comical scene, when the Daily Prophet journalist Rita Skeeter drags Harry into a cupboard for an ‘intimate’ interview? As they discuss (or rather, as she talks), a moving quill is taking notes for the article to come.

I’m sure you have dreamt of it at high-school. Well, I did. This is no longer a dream, as every smartphone has this feature today: a tape recorder linked to your keyboard, that transforms what you say out loud into text. I find it very useful in winter and during lazy moments!

Fortunately, the speech-to-text technology is more reliable than Rita’s Quick-Quotes Quill: it writes down exactly what you say and doesn’t interpret your speech rate and tone of voice… Although I advise you to double-check your messages before sending them, you never know.

3. Snap Map vs Marauder’s Map

The Marauder’s Map

It’s not very different from Snapchat’s Snap Map, that displays you and your friends’ location. But contrary to the Marauder’s Map, you consciously chose to share your location.The Marauder’s Map is a precious gift the Weasley twins gave Harry. Not only does it display the detailed plans of Hogwarts, but it also informs its owner of everyone’s location within the grounds of the castle.

If you want to spy on your friends without being noticed, there is a Ghost Mode that makes you invisible on the Snap Map. Then you keep seeing the position of those who have turned their location public. Creepy, right? 👻

4. Drones vs Owls

Mail delivery in the Great Hall at breakfastWizards always have used aerial means to deliver letters and packages, and it even became a breakfast ritual at Hogwarts.

In our Muggle world, we had carrier pigeons until World War I. But they were not very reliable and they lacked flexibility. So we abandoned this form of delivery for almost a century. But very recently, Amazon launched the Prime Air service, which uses autonomous drones to deliver orders. According to the e-commerce and cloud computing giant, drone is both the fastest and the safest delivery mode.

In the wizarding world, most wizards have their own owl. So I wonder: could we all own a personal drone soon, just like we have smartphones? 🤔

5. Optical Camouflage vs Invisibility Cloak

Cloak of Invisibility

I really envied Harry’s Invisibility Cloak. I have no clue of what I would have done with it, but I’m sure I would have found something worthy!

Anyway, it seems that the military does know what its troops could achieve if they became invisible, and the US Army was working on wearable camouflage over the past few years. They developed a suit that uses nanotechnology to bend light around its wearer, making him (almost) invisible.

In the wizarding world, Invisibility Cloaks are very rare — this is partly the reason for their prestige. But if the power of invisibility ends up being mastered in the Muggle world, who knows what will be the consequences?

6. Augmented Human vs Mad-Eye Moody

‘Mad-Eye’ Moody

‘Mad-Eye’ is the nickname of Alastor Moody, an Auror (i.e. a dark wizard catcher) who lost his eye in a battle. He replaced it with a magical glass that can rotate 360 degrees and see through anything (even Invisibility Cloaks and the back of his own head)! 🤯

This is a great example of human enhancement. It healed him, but it also offered him new capacities beyond the human range.

In the Muggle world, we have many examples of human enhancement. The most famous are powered exoskeletons, that can be used by disabled persons for rehabilitation (and even Paralympic Games), but also by law enforcement officials, firefighters or construction industry labour.

Don’t worry, the Augmented Human is not new: many consider wheelchairs, cars and even smartphones as tools to enhance our physical and cognitive performances!

7. Chatbots vs Ghosts

Chatting with the dead is an ordinary activity at Hogwarts, as many ghosts live in the castle. Each House even has its own ghost. But don’t be mistaken: students don’t really talk with the dead, as ghosts are nothing more than “the imprint of a departed soul left upon the earth” once said Professor Snape.

Sir Nicholas, aka Nearly Headless Nick

So conversing with our lost relatives and friends is a pipe dream. And yet, it became a delusive reality since Eugenia Kuyda decided to ‘rebuild’ her lost friend, Roman Mazurenko.

Eugenia used her knowledge of Artificial Intelligence to develop a bot that mimicked Roman’s speech patterns, based on all the messages he sent her when he was alive. And she succeeded: she could talk with him again after death.

8. Internet vs Tom Riddle’s Diary

Harry, starting the conversation with Tom Riddle’s Diary

Tom Riddle’s Diary feeds on his owner’s confidences and emotions. The more it knows about you, the stronger it becomes — and the weaker you feel. Of course, private and sensible information have more value.

Think of the Internet like this diary. It might provide you with answers and services, but in return, it keeps all your information: your searches, your text entries, your browsing history, who you are connected with on social media, etc. 👀

In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was recently adopted to protect users’ privacy. More than framing the storage and usage of data, the GDPR also paved the way for greater users’ awareness by raising the issue of data protection.

9. Brain-Computer Interfaces vs Non-Verbal Spells

Professor McGonagall vs Professor Snape

In the wizarding world, the most powerful wizards are able to cast spells without saying incantations. This brings them the advantage of surprise. As you might guess, it’s not easy and it requires concentration and mind power.

We’re started to get used to vocal commands in the Muggle world, with Alexa and Google Home assistants. We even talk about ‘invoking’ them. But what about the next level, the one of telepathy? 🔮

Well, we are already working on Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs). In early 2018, the Economist titled Using thoughts to control machinesand provided its readers with examples of paralysed persons who could control their limbs again thanks to implants linked to their neuronal activity.

Elon Musk is working on mind control as well with his Neuralink project.

10. Cloud Computing vs the Room of Requirement

If you think previous points were far-fetched, you haven’t seen anything yet. But let me explain.

Dumbledore’s Army practicing the Patronus Charm in the Room of Requirement

The Room of Requirement is a secret room, not registered on any maps (not even on the Marauder’s Map!). So it seems virtual. And yet, it tangibly appears for those who need it most, with the exact configuration and material they required. So it needs a physical form to provide its services.

Same goes for cloud computing, but in the opposite way: it offers infinite, scalable and personalised possibilities on the virtual level, thanks to physical servers!

If you agree with this parallel, we could even go further and compare the Room of Hidden Things with the Personal Cloud Storage. The former is one form that the Room of Requirement can take, and appears for people who need to hide something. So it’s like a storage place, but with tangible objects. The latter is one of the use we can make of cloud computing, to store and access any kind of data.


We know that technological evolution is exponential and I believe there are further extraordinary inventions to come. We could not notice them as magic, as they will be part of our daily lives so we will get used to them. But stay aware, you can live in a wonderful world if you chose to! 🌟

Wouldn’t Muggle Quidditch be much more interesting with real flying broomsticks?

Have you enjoyed this article? Like it, share it, it helps me a lot to promote this piece!

You want to discuss? Do you agree with these points? Do you have others in mind? What invention would make you the happiest person in the world? Please leave me a comment, I’m very curious to know your view!

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