Every real sci-fi fan knows that October 21, 2015 is the future date that Marty McFly visits in Back To the Future II. The film depicts a goofy retro-futuristic world that doesn’t look anything like the world today, except shockingly that the Cubs are a decent baseball team, and a few other details that were spot on. Hoverboards are an important feature in the movie, and the science community has recently rejoiced to find out that, yes, hoverboards do exist in 2015. If you haven’t seen this video of the Lexus designed hoverboard then I suggest you check it out. It’s not exactly like the ones from Back to the Future II (it’s more like a mag-lev train) but I’m still going to say they called it.
In celebration of Back To The Future Day, Vunify wants to highlight some other movies that accurately predicted future trends or technologies.
The two-way-wrist-tv has been part of Dick Tracy’s outfit since the comic strip days. It was a basic concept for the apple watch almost 60 years ahead of time. Even at the time that this 1990’s version of Dick Tracy was released the Apple Watch would still not be available to the public for another 25 years.
There were numerous futuristic technologies in I,Robot, some of which are getting closer to reality every day. One of the most amazing has to be the advanced prosthetics on the cutting edge of science. In this movie Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) has a robotic left arm. He lost his original arm in a bad car accident, but luckily Dr. Alfred Lanning was able to replace it with the arm of an NS-5 robot. This artificial limb was hooked directly into Spooner’s nervous system, and was like his own arm in that he had full control and feeling in the limb. It was unlike his original arm in that it had the strength to punch through concrete walls. While today’s prosthetics can’t give you super human strength, there are current prosthetic arm prototypes that are operated by signals from your brain and can even send back signals that mimic the sensation of touch.
This is another revolutionary movie with many conceptual technologies that did not exist at the time of it’s release, back in 1968. The one that sticks out the most to me has to be the idea of artificial intelligence as depicted in the Hal 9000 sentient computer. This is by no means the first example of artificial intelligence in film, but it’s certainly one of the most iconic. Now it’s 2015 and we still aren’t sending manned missions around the solar system, but we are definitely talking to robots, and the most famous one has to be Siri. She’s not in your space ship. She’s in your iPhone, and I’m afraid that she also can’t open the pod bay doors, but she can find you mediocre Chinese food at two o’clock in the morning. Thank you technology.
Oh. Is this another Will Smith movie? You bet your ass it is. Back in 1998 nobody was freaking out about mass surveillance, data collection, or drones. Nobody had ever even heard of Edward Snowden and September 11, 2001 was still a few years away. The National Security Agency was not the 1984 Big Brother organization they are today, but Enemy of the State was quite a prophecy of what was to come. In this film a lawyer (Will Smith) goes on the run from a senator and his goons who use the full power of the NSA, including high tech satellite imaging, to tack Will Smith wherever he goes. Pretty spooky. Fast-forward to today where anybody with an internet connection can get on Google maps and take a look into your backyard. When we add data collection and surveillance drones to the capabilities of the NSA, you have to think Enemy of the State may have actually been an underestimation of the broad scope of the surveillance state.
I’m calling these holograms. After reading more about holograms, I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but what I’m referring to is 3D image that is projected into thin air. If that’s not what a hologram is, sue me nerds. Now, this Tupac Shakur performance from Cochella is not a hologram because that was merely a 2D reflection off of a transparent screen. This is known as the “Pepper’s Ghost” illusion and while it looks really cool, it’s not the real deal. What is the real deal is a device called the Aerial Burton 3D display. Check it out.
Yeah so, these guys actually did it. They figured out how to project a 3D image into thin air. If you ask me, they’re not even as excited as they should be.
Wearable tech seems to be an inevitable development. Levi’s is coming out with “smart pants” soon. Why in the world does anybody need smart pants? Anyway, here is another example where Back to the Future II totally nailed it. These wearable computer glasses that Marty’s kids refuse to take off at the dinner table really couldn’t have been more prophetic of the Google Glass “optical head-mounted display.” Or, since they do seem pretty unaware of their surroundings, maybe Oculus Rift would be slightly more comparable. Either way, we’re wearing our computers on our faces now.
When The Truman Show was released back in 1998, we were just on the verge of the reality tv boom. Shows like Survivor and Big Brother had already become hits and other similar shows would be very popular throughout the early 2000’s. Mostly competition shows of some kind. However, there was nothing like an entire program dedicated to documenting the every day life of a single person. Fast-forward 17 years and not only is reality tv as popular as ever, but many of the most popular series are just that: A simple documentation of a single person’s everyday life. Unfortunately, these people aren’t trapped by a simple fear of dogs or bridges or large bodies of water. These people are trapped by the crippling fear of being irrelevant and no sailboat ride is going to save them from that trap.
There are a couple of things in Minority Report that are just good old fashioned idiocy. The whole part with the women laying around in those weird little pools looking into the future was ridiculous. That stuff is all just complete nonsense. What isn’t complete nonsense is the idea that here in the future we aren’t happy with remote controls, key boards, or mouses. We would prefer to touch and point rather than to click, and gesture control has come a long way. The example of the Xbox Kinect shows that we’re basically already there. Not only can you play games using only your body as a controller, you can also sit on your couch and navigate through menus with a wave of your hand.
Driverless cars have been a popular concept with science fiction writers for almost a hundred years now. At the World’s Fair in 1939 there was a General Motors exhibit that depicted a world of the future, specifically the year 1960, and it featured highways full of completely autonomous vehicles. As it turns out, their deadline was a little early, and it’s actually really hard to improve on human drivers. We are great at reading the road, making decisions, and reacting. For every accident we cause we avoid thousands more. It takes a well designed combination of advanced sensors and perfectly programed computers to achieve anything like the driving ability of your average human, and while it may have taken an extra 55 years to pull it off, Google has finally done just that. The Google car uses radar, lazer scanners, and cameras to get a detailed picture of the vehicle’s surroundings. The computer system has a set of preprogramed instructions but primarily relies on machine learning to processes the inputs from these sensors and react accordingly. By fine-tuning this technology Google has already created vehicles capable of driving you around town without any assistance whatever. In some ways these Google cars are even better than human drivers because their sensors can detect obstacles far in front of the vehicle. Much further away than the naked eye is capable of seeing. There is no doubt that self-driving cars are a thing of the present, and if they could only make them look like this, we could officially say that we are living in the future.