The argument could easily be made that some of the most creative and innovative thinkers are sci-fi writers and filmmakers. In the recesses of their minds are some of the most interesting, farfetched, and technologically advanced ideas. Think of books like 2001: A Space Odyssey, or films like Star Wars or Star Trek – the ingenuity and creative mastery it takes to thoroughly dream up these worlds is awe inspiring. Many times these creators are able to accurately predict the future, so to speak. Their thinking is so spot on with where technology is headed that many of the objects in their stories become reality some years later.
So, in the interest of exploring just how far ahead of their times they were, let’s take a look at some of the predictions sci-fi filmmakers made that actually came true.
The idea of body scanners and x-ray vision have been mainstays in many superhero and science fiction films. However, it was in 1990’s Total Recall that we saw the most accurate prediction of what is now commonplace at airports, with body scanners which were essentially moving x-rays. In fact, those seem much less invasive than the ones we actually have now, which only stop at the skin.
Arthur C. Clarke, acclaimed author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, enjoyed making predictions of what the future would look like so much so that he made an entire book about them, called Profiles of the Future. One prediction he made, way back in 1945, was the use of satellites for television and other forms of communication. It would be another 40 years before satellite internet and television would even be a reality.
Cell Phones & Smart Watches:
Among the many, many things that were predicted in both the Star Trek series films were cellphones and smart watches. During the first two films, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the group communicated via what we could call “smart watches” now. Not only did they accurately predict these devices, but in the third film, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock they switched over to hand held mobile phones, thus predicting the modern cellphone.
Who can possible forget Rosie from The Jetsons who, in addition to being a dutiful maid and housekeeper, was a robotic vacuum. Roomba made Rosie (sort of) a reality in 2002 when they released their first robotic vacuums. The Roomba, loaded with sensors that allow it to detect dirty spots, keep it from falling down stairs, and maneuver around objects, has sold around 10 million units since its introduction. While they may not be able to cook you breakfast like Rosie did, they’re a start.
The idea of an android (no, not the phone, but a robot made to look like a human) as we know it was first predicted in 1886, in Tomorrow’s Eve by Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam. There was also a similar android in Fritz Lang’s classic film, Metropolis, in 1927. In the film, the mad scientist Rotwang creates a robot that resembles a woman in order to to help fight back against a growing coup amongst workers. While today’s androids aren’t bringing down the hammer on disgruntled workers, they are disturbingly real looking, and the technology is rapidly advancing. So much so that the South Korean government felt the need to create a Robot Ethics Charter to serve as guidelines for what can and cannot be programmed into android’s “brains.”
Of course these are all examples of successful predictions, which we all know doesn’t always happen in sci-fi (and sometimes we should be grateful for that). Knowing just how many innovations these creative minds were able to predict makes watching any sci-fi film or reading any futuristic book a whole new experience, with the added sense of “we could actually have these things someday.” Give it a try, watch one of your favorite sci-fi films or read one of your favorite sci-fi books and imagine just how close we are to having the things they predicted…