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Kontra Kommando

Really Off Depictions of the Future from Past Movies

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Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like these movies. But I find it hilarious as to how wrong the creators were when they had envisioned the future. Here are some examples:

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes; set in 1991



Escape from New York; set in 1997


Back to the Future; Marty goes to 2015

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Yeah I've come to realize nothing will ever look futuristic. No new inventions will dominate things.

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Yeah the present was so futuristic in the past :P

You could also have quoted 2001: a Space Odyssey, but the title is self explanatory.

The cars didn't fly, but that last scene when Marty sees a computer on a museum is quite accurate: I just saw one pc with floppy discs in a museum these days (and an Atari).

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Not sure if Escape from New York counts. First, the entire world isn't supposed to like that, just Manhattan has been turned into modern day Australia. Second, it's an alternative future and as far as depicting gang-ruled cities, it's cheesy, but not off. 1984 is way off even if you count North Korea, but no one's really going to point fingers, because these movies are not describing the future, they're satirizing the present. The future of their vision is exaggerated on purpose. Same with Brazil, Robocop or even Running Man, although the movie focuses on the absurdity of TV shows where King's novel goes straight into serious dystopian environmentalist/leftist activism.

I wanted to point out Strange Days...


...but 15 years later, although still in diapers, Oculus, heh.

Blade Runner looks like it's going on this list in 2019. Off-world colonies? Indistinguishable human replicants? Extermination of almost all animals on Earth? Eh heh. Actually, all of Dick's novels-to-movies are totally off.

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I'm so waiting for next because I get my flying car, self lacing shoes and jaws 19 movie

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There are three main erroneous assumptions with attempting to divine the technology future:

1. Technology will change, not society. You just need to look at Robida's artwork.

2. Technology will have gigantic leaps in some domains, but won't change much in others. It often turns out to be true, but in the other way around. Like in 2001: A Space Odyssey, you have a Turing-capable AI with advanced voice synthesis and recognition and image recognition advanced enough to let HAL read on the astronauts' lips. But he still uses punchcards.

2. Technology will not really change that much. That Back to the Future clip has futuristic-looking cars, but you don't see anybody lost in their smartphone/iPad/whatever.

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Clonehunter said:

I thought Marty went to 2015, since 1985, 1955, and 1885.


He did. The YouTube description is accurate.

Aside from the specific technologies, BttF II is a really accurate depiction of the pop-culture side of 2015. Ridiculous gimmicks, high-tech antiques, ubiquitous displays, kids complimenting their mom on being good at using convenient food machines, etc. Well, it got the Japanese CEO thing wrong, but everybody got that wrong in the 80s.

I mean it with the rehydrated pizza thing. Yeah, we don't have those, but when you've gone to your friend's house for lunch and his mom couldn't competently heat a Pizza Pop that scene just hits home.

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I would nominate star trek the next generation.

as if humanity would accept other cultures and life, by all means humanity is making everything 'western' because politics does not understand that being civilized does not mean being western. it is just one fragmented civilization spread over many countries with their own version like it should be 'variation and freedom'.

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It's hard to predict how quickly technology is going to advance. Like, it seems people are always predicting things like holograms, which may never really become commercially viable, but at the same time, no one could've predicted how quickly smartphones changed our way of life - even in movies and whatnot that predicted smartphones, they never seemed to predict the societal implications.

I do think Star Trek's portrayal of the future is somewhat accurate - in that they portray a galaxy of people all constantly connected to each other, but they never really explored the ramifications of that.

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FireFish said:

I would nominate star trek the next generation.

as if humanity would accept other cultures and life,

I tend to see Star Trek as being like a utopian ideal, or possibly an allegory for own world affairs.

It's particularly evident if you look at the time period in which the original series aired: it presents a future where there's a bridge crew of multiple races, nationalities and even species, all working together. Star Trek has a black actress as one of the main cast (Uhura) at the time when America was going through the civil rights movement, and a Russian (Chekov) at the height of the Cold War.

The utopian vision is even more obvious in TNG where humans have eliminated poverty, abolished money and now "work to improve themselves" through some new philosophy that's never really explained (probably deliberately so).

If I'm honest, your cynicism towards it might be well-placed; a society like this might be too utopian, something that could never work. However, it's also nice to have these utopian visions of the future, perhaps as something to aspire to. The characters in TNG are always unambiguously "good guys" striving to do the right thing: many of the episodes deal with complex moral dilemmas that play into this. It's a bit sad in a way that we've lost this kind of science fiction series from our screens; the sci-fi series we see nowadays are darker, full of brooding anti-hero characters or the sci-fi equivalent of soap opera plots.

Kontra Kommando said:

looks like it was 2015.

No, it's actually today!

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According to Doom 3, the military will be using 8 round pump-action shotguns in the year 2145 (with a range not exceeding 5 feet.) Oh, and no weapon flashlights. Ain't nobody got time for dat.

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Gez said:

There are three main erroneous assumptions with attempting to divine the technology future:

1. Technology will change, not society. You just need to look at Robida's artwork.

2. Technology will have gigantic leaps in some domains, but won't change much in others. It often turns out to be true, but in the other way around. Like in 2001: A Space Odyssey, you have a Turing-capable AI with advanced voice synthesis and recognition and image recognition advanced enough to let HAL read on the astronauts' lips. But he still uses punchcards.

2. Technology will not really change that much. That Back to the Future clip has futuristic-looking cars, but you don't see anybody lost in their smartphone/iPad/whatever.

Has anyone here read the Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface manga (2001)? That's the most perfect depiction of future (2035) I've ever seen. The technological advance is not that far ahead (except for the unrealistic cyborg tech inherited from GitS), but there's an insane lot of cyberspace diving, augmented reality and hacking everywhere. On the other hand, there's some psychic crap and I'm sure Shirow didn't manage to predict the geopolitical situation.

The point, however, is that the thing is a clusterfuck of unreadable technobabble. Keeping up with the story is almost impossible and the concepts Shirow invented/interpolated are casually thrown around like they're daily bread&butter with just a short explanation at the end of the book that doesn't help you much. And that's it - if someone dropped you in year 2035, I don't think you'd be too shocked by technological advances, but goddamit, I swear you wouldn't be able to even understand what people are saying most of the time.

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RUSH said:

According to Doom 3, the military will be using 8 round pump-action shotguns in the year 2145 (with a range not exceeding 5 feet.) Oh, and no weapon flashlights. Ain't nobody got time for dat.

Well, I agree on the flashlight issue, but the shotgun issue was one of (crappy) balance. There was two versions of the shotgun in DOOM 3, what the mars security zombies carried and yours. Your shotgun had 8 pellets and had really high damage per pellet, but really bad spread to balance it out. The mars security zombie one had a much tighter spread (1/3!) And only 5 pellets per shot, and much less damage. It was (in my opinion) a knee jerk reaction to all of the shotgun usage in DOOM and DOOM 2.
Anyway, OT my vote for off the ball future visions would go too Juudge Dredd (The 2000A.D. comics, NOT the travisty that was the 1995 film!) Soldier (a direct to DVD film in the UK of a Kurt Russel film) and to some extent, Logan's Run, simply forvthe smart female lead and future orgy scenes.

And tits, lots of tits...

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@fraggle :
I agree to the fullest, such deep series with good actors need to come back. It presents a hope that mankind would not continue on its current path. By all means humanity is now literally acting like the Borg, Use and leave depleted no matter what it means for anything.


@dew
Shirow Masamune is a well known and respected science fiction writer and artist. his Appleseed and Ghost In The Shell stunned the world and the first movie based on it was once one of the absolute first (adult) animated movies to use computer assisted animation.

His depiction of the near future is frightening realistic, and many of his concepts are actually a true topic today. hackers rebelling, governments diving into the net to see and know all, almost inhumane depth up to the designs and workings of everything. I would call that a masterpiece with a lot of truth.

(note in 2013/2014 a microsoft sponsored new 4 part git ova came out)

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Nightmare Doom said:

Thing is it shows we can't predict the future, we can only imagine it via the lens of the present.

If you look at Robida's "in year 2000" artwork, you'll find out he hits quite close to the mark for several things. They definitely do not look anything like what he imagined, but functionally they exist. For example:

Roomba:

Mobile-home:

TV:


For some things, he severely undershot it, though. For instance, the idea of using satellites and spy planes would have seemed too far fetched, so he merely replaced observation balloons with an observation autogyre:


And of course, there are other things he imagined that do not exist and it's a shame. I want a whalebus service.


(Click for bigger pictures)

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fraggle said:

I tend to see Star Trek as being like a utopian ideal, or possibly an allegory for own world affairs.

It's particularly evident if you look at the time period in which the original series aired: it presents a future where there's a bridge crew of multiple races, nationalities and even species, all working together. Star Trek has a black actress as one of the main cast (Uhura) at the time when America was going through the civil rights movement, and a Russian (Chekov) at the height of the Cold War.

The utopian vision is even more obvious in TNG where humans have eliminated poverty, abolished money and now "work to improve themselves" through some new philosophy that's never really explained (probably deliberately so).

If I'm honest, your cynicism towards it might be well-placed; a society like this might be too utopian, something that could never work. However, it's also nice to have these utopian visions of the future, perhaps as something to aspire to. The characters in TNG are always unambiguously "good guys" striving to do the right thing: many of the episodes deal with complex moral dilemmas that play into this. It's a bit sad in a way that we've lost this kind of science fiction series from our screens; the sci-fi series we see nowadays are darker, full of brooding anti-hero characters or the sci-fi equivalent of soap opera plots.

No, it's actually today!

See, I actually liked Deep Space 9 the best (I'm actually in the middle of rewatching the series), because it explored the darker side of Star Trek - showing that humans, even in an ideal future, aren't the perfect angels of the galaxy the original show portrayed. There's still issues of racism and prejudice. Sometimes, good people do bad things for what they believe is right. In what in my opinion was one of the best episodes, you had the captain faking intel to draw the Romulans into a war they had no interest in fighting (and dealing with the resulting guilt for what he'd done - even knowing in the end that it was probably their best hope of actually winning the war). You had Section 31, a covert organization in Starfleet that basically went against everything Starfleet stood for. And that's just scratching the surface. Some absolutely hate Deep Space 9 because it goes against everything Star Trek was supposed to be about, but I felt it was the most relatable views of the future.

And I mean, I think in some ways, it actually reinforces the ideals of Star Trek - it shows the darker elements of humanity, but shows we can still strive to be the best we can be, flawed though we may be. Going back to the lying and faking of intel, yeah, Sisko knew he had done something horrible, but he strived, he fought tooth and nail to at least make his decision count for something, to ensure that the wrongs he had done were ultimately for the greater good, whether or not he could ever personally forgive himself for them.

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Then there's Event Horizon, a movie made in 1997 which had flat screen monitors and one of the characters watching a home video on a tablet device.

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geekmarine said:

See, I actually liked Deep Space 9 the best (I'm actually in the middle of rewatching the series), because it explored the darker side of Star Trek - showing that humans, even in an ideal future, aren't the perfect angels of the galaxy the original show portrayed.


In the next generation picard gets called onto the judgment floor more than once by he Q entity. In one of those episodes they explicitly stated that hundreds if not thousands of poeple died because of the exact decisions he made. More then once he is faced with the mental dilemma of his decisions. Or Ricard going mad with power, yet he does not save a dead child even though he could. the first ever star trek is a bit off 'beutiful woman in sexy dresses' but TNG went way beyond and over that. Got to hand it to sir. Patrick Stewart for his performance.

All the other star trek shows never realy seemed up to the task. (to me personally)

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Doominator2 said:

If Jaws part 19 is coming out in 2015 they better start releasing a new Jaws movie every month from now on.


I agree.

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FireFish said:

In the next generation picard gets called onto the judgment floor more than once by he Q entity. In one of those episodes they explicitly stated that hundreds if not thousands of poeple died because of the exact decisions he made. More then once he is faced with the mental dilemma of his decisions. Or Ricard going mad with power, yet he does not save a dead child even though he could. the first ever star trek is a bit off 'beutiful woman in sexy dresses' but TNG went way beyond and over that. Got to hand it to sir. Patrick Stewart for his performance.

All the other star trek shows never realy seemed up to the task. (to me personally)

I wouldn't dare compare TNG to the original series - yeah it had its hokey moments, but it did get good, and you're right, it did get into some darker stuff, just I feel like DS9 really took that idea and ran with it. Also, the whole business of Riker not saving that little girl always bothered me - I get we had to show him resisting the urge to let power go to his head, but come on, that was downright silly (except for the whole dead little girl thing, I mean). If you really wanted to show him not giving in to the power, they should've given him the chance to say, wipe out the Borg or something. That dilemma would've made much more sense.

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Ugh. First-season nonsense. Indeed. Any reasonable person would break that promise to Picard in a similar situation.

The stupidest nonsense to come from Star Trek is the Prime Directive. Listening to Picard insist they let people die to avoid contact with low-tech civilizations at all costs is ridiculous. On one occasion he was willing to let his own people die, and on at least one other he was willing to let an entire species die. I can't imagine what kind of cultural damage the Federation was likely to do that was worse than the death of a species!

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Hmm, looks like I need to check out both DS9 and the original series. I'm a big TNG fan, but you guys have pointed out things I didn't really take note of. Guess it's time to get my Star Trek on!

1984 also comes to mind as an incorrect depiction of the future, but I still love the underlying message of the book (the film was pretty good, but the book is a classic). Obviously the Big Brother concept is a bit sci-fi in presentation, but "thought crimes" could still be a thing one day, if humanity goes down the darker path.

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Doomkid said:

Hmm, looks like I need to check out both DS9 and the original series. I'm a big TNG fan, but you guys have pointed out things I didn't really take note of. Guess it's time to get my Star Trek on!

1984 also comes to mind as an incorrect depiction of the future, but I still love the underlying message of the book (the film was pretty good, but the book is a classic). Obviously the Big Brother concept is a bit sci-fi in presentation, but "thought crimes" could still be a thing one day, if humanity goes down the darker path.

I don't think "thought crimes" were the real issue with 1984. It wasn't simply that Big Brother controlled everything and took out anyone who wasn't down with the party agenda, but the government was so deceptive and manipulative that people weren't even aware of what was really going on. Honestly, the whole notion of thought police was almost unnecessary - doublethink did the real work, painting so many layers upon layers of lies that even when someone thought they were fighting against the system, they were really playing right into it.

I'd compare it to the Matrix, if, when freed from the "fake" world, people entered a real world that was just as much a simulation. Say the machines picked up that Neo was resisting the Matrix, so they created a simulation of him escaping with Morpheus and company - and have it turn out that all that was just as much an illusion. It'd be a perfect way to control freedom fighters - you give them the illusion that they've broken free so that they don't even realize they're still trapped.

Sorry to go off on a tangent there, but I think that really sums up the real evil of 1984. There were wheels within wheels there - most people simply accepted the government, but even those who resisted were still being led by the government. They were allowed to resist to give them the illusion that their actions had meaning, while they were still being manipulated and controlled all the same. Direct control of the masses is difficult - giving them the illusion of choice, the illusion of free will, is much easier.

Heck, to tie this back to why I love Deep Space 9 so much, there was an episode about just that - Bashir uncovers a plot by Section 31, the Federation's secret police, but he was intentionally allowed to find out about that plot, and his actions to resist the plot were actually the intended consequence - he ended up inadvertently helping Section 31 through his actions of trying to stop their plans (which had been the whole point all along).

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