Back to the Future’s Future is Too Futuristic

Time for a little more geekery about Back to the Future. While watching part two I couldn’t help but notice that the filmmaker’s vision of 2015–a mere seven years away–was incredibly advanced. Granted the movie was made in the late 1980s when 2015 was still 25 years away, but it’s kind of incredible how far off they were in their predictions. Of course it’s only a movie and it’s all for good fun, but it has interesting implications for science fiction writers trying to depict the future. Namely: The future is never as advanced as you think it should be.

In Back to the Future 2 we see all sorts of incredible futuristic advancements. The most eye-popping is the flying car, and it seems the entire interstate system has already been transferred from concrete roads to airborne flyways. Clothing comes in self-fitting styles, skateboards can hover, the weather can either be controlled or predicted with perfect accuracy, fingerprint scanners have replaced door knobs, video screens have replaced windows, home appliances are voice activated, food is regularly de- and re-hydrated, a home energy appliance creates as much energy as a nuclear reaction and fax machines are everywhere.

The last one is especially funny, given our current Internet-based office and the way the fax machine is quickly becoming a dinosaur of a bygone era. Of all the imagined technology in Back to the Future‘s future, very few of them have actually come to be. We’re not even close to having many of the potential advancements.

I realize this is all rather geeky, but I find it interesting–especially when I wonder what the world will be like in 25 or 30 years. While my imagination wants to picture incredible change, I think change comes more slowly in the real world. The bigger differences seem to be in culture and style. Those change radically every 25 years, even every 10 years.

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