Which Movies Correctly Predicted Current

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How films foresaw today's tech

Many sci-fi movies were made to wow audiences and offer a creative look into how our world might change in the future. Some directors and screenwriters might be surprised to learn that they correctly predicted some important technology we actually use today. Did any of your favorite movies get it right?

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Metropolis characters

Metropolis

Human-Like Androids

Contrary to popular belief, Blade Runner and Alien were not the first movies to portray androids. The German 1927 silent film Metropolis takes place in 2026, depicting a bleak, dystopian future. A wealthy young man invents a female android to bring a sense of peace to the deep inequality between the rich and the workers.1 While today's actual androids are much more human-like than the ones depicted in Metropolis, the film offered an early view into what our world would become.

Forbidden Planet robot

Forbidden Planet

The Internet of Things

In Forbidden Planet, Dr. Morbius' “Great Machine" has the power to create matter from mere thoughts and holds virtually all information.2 While the internet of things is not as advanced, it's conceptually very similar. This is especially true when considering the wealth of information housed on the internet, social media platforms, and search engines—and the information these technologies know about us. It's impressive that this film was able to predict an idea as complex as the internet of things—especially considering the internet itself wouldn't be invented until decades later.

Space Odyssey machine

2001: A Space Odyssey

Virtual Assistants, Video Calling, Space Travel

As the quintessential future tech film, 2001 predicted much of what we see every day. Just one year after the film was released, a team of astronauts walked on the moon. 2001's astronauts communicate with their families through video chatting—a 60s version of today's Skype. And let's not forget HAL 9000, the virtual-assistant-turned-villain who is just as scary 50 years later. Amazon's Alexa has a lot of the same capabilities, including compatibility with various smart devices. Hopefully she won't turn on us in the end 3

Sleeper character

Sleeper

Robot-Assisted Surgery

In this classic film set in the year 2173, a man masquerades as a robot doctor to escape arrest. He eventually reveals his true identity to Diane Keaton's character, who—after threatening to turn him in—falls in love with him.4 Today, robot-assisted surgery is regularly used in hospitals around the world. Robots are able to operate more precisely than humans, making them excellent assistants in heart surgery, gallbladder removal, and cancer treatment. Because these surgeries are so delicately done, patients experience less pain and scarring, as well as quicker recovery time.5

Start Wars Logo

The Empire Strikes Back

Interplanetary Travel

When Star Wars: Episode V was released, man had already walked on the moon—so the next logical step was traveling planet-to-planet at light speed. Han Solo and the gang jump from Hoth to Dagobah to Bespin to Tatooine in the space of one movie.6 While in reality, NASA can't match George Lucas' celluloid space travel timeframes, the Interplanetary Superhighway was conceived to simplify space travel.7 Spacecrafts have now travelled to almost every planet, travelling as far as Neptune.8

Blade Runner

Blade Runner

Digital Billboards

If you've ever visited Manhattan's Times Square—or huge cities like Tokyo—you've been dazzled by digital billboards. They weren't common in 1982, but they've become part of our regular advertising. And since Blade Runner is set in 2019, their predictions weren't too far off.9

Back to the future 2

Back to the Future Part II

Virtual Reality Glasses

This trilogy is jam-packed with future-tech predictions—from time machines to flying DeLoreans. In Part II, Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel 30 years into the future to 2015, encountering a futuristic world of hoverboards, shark holograms, and flying cars. While these aren't yet available on the market, some other movie tech is: wearable computing. At the dinner table feasting on hydrated pizza, Marty's future son and daughter don glasses similar to Google Glass and Oculus Rift.10 The glasses integrate with the other tech around the house, including multiple screens and a Skype-like video chat. Nike has also recently made “power laces" a reality.

Total Recall

Total Recall

Driverless Taxis

Would you get into a car with no one behind the wheel? In Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character does—and gets so frustrated that he rips the puppet-like android's head off. As driverless tech advances, more autonomous vehicles will be joining human drivers on the road. In fact, General Motors is aiming to deploy fleets of driverless taxis by 2019.11 Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft are also investing heavily in the technology12

Minority Report

Minority Report

Facial Recognition Tech, Ad Retargeting

This movie's future tech predictions are scarily accurate. From touchscreen swiping to gesture-based UI, we use many of these on-screen fantasies in our daily lives.13 In Minority Report, police catch would-be criminals with face-scanning technology before they commit crimes. With this same idea of facial recognition technology, Apple's FaceID allows users to unlock smartphones—and make payments—with just a glance.14 Characters also see holographic ads personalized to their names and their lives. Facebook ad retargeting hasn't gone that far, but it's capable of knowing a scary amount of details about an individual's life.15

IRobot

I, Robot

Driverless Cars and Semi Trucks

In today's world, the concept of driverless cars hardly raises an eyebrow. We've yet to see them on the roads around us, but it's largely accepted as the future of vehicles. Set in 2035, I, Robot may hit close to home. Driverless cars, designed by Audi, are capable of being used on autopilot, as are Tesla's and other driverless car prototypes.16 The movie also portrays driverless semi trucks—something Tesla is expected to roll out soon.17

WALL-E

WALL-E

Hands-Free Screens

In the surprisingly bleak future of 2805, humans and megacorporations have damaged Earth so much that humans have relocated to another planet. Humans sit in hover chairs on a cruise-like spaceship, watching television and advertisements on holographic screens in front of their faces. These hands-free “devices" may still be a way off, but companies like Amazon are looking to introduce hands-free tech to tablets. Amazon's hands-free Alexa, which will be compatible with Fire tablets, is scheduled to be rolled out in 2018.18

inception

Inception

Sleep Monitoring

The characters in Inception use sleep and dream monitoring to explore characters' memories and consciousnesses—as well as commit crimes. But what about that idea is mere inception and what is reality? Scientists are investigating using sleep and dream monitoring to help patients with post traumatic stress disorder.19 Some wearable tech even uses EEG monitoring to induce lucid dreaming and improve sleeping patterns.20 Maybe it's not as action-packed as Inception, but definitely as groundbreaking.

Prometheus

Prometheus

Super-Intelligent Androids

In 2093, a team of humans is sent on a mission to find the person—or being—who created humanity. Their spaceship is equipped with hypersleep chambers, an automated medical pod capable of performing emergency abdominal surgery, and an android named David. Besides possessing superhuman strength, David is also extremely intelligent and capable of speaking and understanding multiple languages. We see similar technology today in virtual assistants such as Google Assistant, which is expected to be capable of understanding and speaking 30 languages by the end of 2018.21

her movie

Her

Smart Home Technology

Her is a love story between a man, Theodore, and his operating system, Samantha, set in the not-too-distant future. Samantha integrates with almost everything in Theodore's life—from his favorite video game to the lights in his home. Her software operates from a tiny, singular earbud-like device. We see similar technology today with virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomePod.23

ex machina

Ex Machina

Androids with Human Facial Features

In the near future, a tech genius has created what he considered the first human-level artificial intelligence. It takes the form of Ava, a beautiful female android seemingly capable of feeling and communicating emotion.23 Her face looks completely human, although that's largely because Ava was played by a real actress. Today's androids don't look as lifelike, but tech developers are finding ways to make them appear more human. With human-like skin and a multitude of facial expressions, androids such as Sophia—the world's first android citizen—are as close as possible to real people.24

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