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A Reddit rendition of a Future Road

Cinema has always been known to take you outside of yourself and through the screen… transport you into the lives and places of others. Sometimes it takes you to an era past, and brings a ping of nostalgia. Other times, the place it takes you is somewhere entirely new, somewhere we might be in the future. When this happens, we can either think “Oh, there’s no way society or the world could look like that”, or “Wow, is this really the way of the future?” Whenever we visualize the future through technology, we are engaging our Technological Imaginaries.

While Sci-Fi films have always tried to best create this new world, few have come as close as Minority Report to actually picking up many parallels that we now see in our lives. This movie was made in 2002 and some of the elements seen in the movie are: retina scans, multi-touch interfaces, 3-D screens, insect robots, personalized advertising, e-papers, crime prediction software and jetpacks. Retina scans were already available before the movie came out. Multi-touch interfaces and 3-D screens have already been made. The rest on the list (with the exception of the jetpacks) are currently in development and will be realized soon. Director Spielburg said the only technology in the movie that was entirely Sci-Fi based was the jetpacks.

Some other elements were transparent computer screens and video calling. Skype and Apple’s Facetime have already made this come true.

After watching this movie, it’s hard to believe it came out 10 years ago, as it seems much of the technology is only barely catching up to us now.

How did they do it?

Spielberg put together a team of the top 15 most influential people in the technology world into a “Think Tank”. He knew the setting of the movie would be 2054 and they set about for 3 days solely to think of new technologies that would be created. They had to base their decisions off of things that would be feasible, and look to current technology as an inspiration as well.

How do you go about trying to predict the future of technology? You have to start by finding a void in what is currently available and how you can make it better or more appealing. In order to start, you have to be open to the idea of technology being an important part of your life. If you regard technology as a bad thing, you are less likely to dream of elaborate new creations. Or, you will think of new technolgies, but they will be dark and distopian… the world would probably be a better place without them.

Many Sci-Fi films portray a distopian view of the future through technology. With robots replacing humans and an earth that is void of emotion, these movies do not give us much to look forward to. Even the distopian views are technology imaginaries because it is a depiction of what could happen in the future. When thinking of the future, we embody our fears, hopes and wishes into the technology.

The utopian view of technology was prevalent in Minority Report. Although the precogs were controversial, their initial use was for the greater good of the population.

It is hard to see the long-term effects of technologies. The initial use may change based upon current consumer wants and needs. When a technology is developed, the utopian view is placed upon it, and only until an unforseen amount of time, is it proven to be true or false.

While it is impossible to predict the future in technology, it is important to keep an engaging eye towards “the next thing”. We must not let the fear of the unknown cripple our potential in advancing technology.

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One thought on “Technological Imaginaries

  1. First of all great layout on the blog. Really user-friendly and simple design. I firmly agree that movies such as Minority Report do not give us humans much to look forward to. Rather we must be constantly looking over our shoulders for the next best technology that assists us with everyday activities. Heilbroner’s article on technology making economic history only supports this claim due to our efforts in profiting from technological determinism.

    I also concur with our lack of prediction of technology’s long term effects, being as it changes ever so frequently both on a minor and major scale. I would also reference Jelsma’s reading on subject vs. object and how humans effect the development of technology and vice versa.

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