Science Fiction as a genre has always been a way to explore humanity both in the present and to project a future given certain situations. While some things like teleportation devices and flying cars have yet to become reality, more and more of what has been “predicted” by sci-fi films is working its way into our world. Here are just a few films that have been almost frighteningly prescient…
2001: A Space Odyssey
Perhaps the most predictive of any film on this list (not least because it was written by an engineer responsible for inventing communication satellites), 2001 gave us a vision of the future that presented us with advanced computers, iPads, video calling, and even TV screens embedded into airplane seats – all technologies presented in film sometimes decades before they became realities. The film is often remembered for its dire warning about the dangers of AI, though considering the AI we see everyday with home automation, security systems and soon autonomous cars, 2001 showed us a fairly accurate image of what our world would one day be
Not every vision of the future coming true is positive. Soylent Green, the story of Frank Thorn, a police detective solving a murder in an overcrowded, food-deprived New York, is probably best known for its plot twist in which he finds out that the food-substitute that people live on, Soylent Green, is made from the bodies of people who chose to be euthanized. While this is unlikely to happen for multiple reasons, population growth is entirely out of control and in some places in the world food is hard to come by due to climate change and unsustainable expansion. But, Soylent is a real thing now, and no it’s NOT made of people this time.
Based on a story by Philip K. Dick, the mind behind the similarly predictive Bladerunner, Minority Report has us following Captain John Anderton, a detective in the PreCrime division of the police department which uses a trio of psychics to see and stop murders before they happen. Anderton, however, is fingered by the Precogs as about to kill somebody and goes on the run to clear his name and solve the murder he hasn’t committed yet. This movie was so good at predicting the future that voice-operated tech, personalized advertising, and gesture-based computer interfaces are things we see or use now on a daily basis. Google expects to be releasing driverless cars in the very near future and robotic insects, such as RoboBees, are being developed to help stimulate actual bug activity.
Back to the Future II
Many jokes were made at the start of 2015 that this is the year of Back to the Future II, so we’d better have a lot more Jaws sequels and hoverboards this year. While we’re not getting everything Marty had after Doc brought him to the future to prevent his son from making a life-ruining error, there were a few things that were pretty accurate, especially around old-Marty’s home. Wall-mounted televisions are certainly a thing now, not to mention wireless video games, as are kids who spend their time at the dinner table consumed with personal electronics. We might not have a Jaws 19 yet, but we certainly are obsessed with sequels and 3D – there are seven Saw movies, and yes, the last one is in 3D
A Woody Allen classic that follows Miles Monroe, who is cryogenically frozen and woken up 200 years later to help fight against the police state that has risen. He, of course, does so in the most hilarious way possible. While Allen’s film also seemed to predict video calling, robot assisted surgery and self-driving cars, it’s the image of him pretending to be a robotic butler that sticks in people’s minds. Similar robots are being made right now by PAL Robotics, even looking like the ones in the film. Sleeping pods, while used in the film for cryogenic stasis, are also becoming more common with varieties of sleeping pods popping up in airports all around the world.
While wrong on a number of things, these films did an amazing job of showing us not only what the world might look like, but in some cases predicted what it would. If all of these hypothetical technologies becoming realities means anything, it looks like the rollout of flying hovercrafts are up next considering they appear in just about all these films in one form or another – here’s hoping.