Back to the Future and Our Present

Oct 7

Great Scott! how Back to the Future got our present right.

Tonight, our beloved (or reviled, depending on how they’re playing) Pittsburgh Pirates play the Chicago Cubs. This game is a wild card to determine who gets into the playoffs. Who can tell me what that reminds them of? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

If you said Back to the Future, you’re right, especially since this game is taking place in the year 2015. Fans of the film have pointed out how many cultural events the film accurately predicted, even things that some companies are releasing just to make them come true. Pepsi perfect comes to mind.

So what did Back to the Future get right? Quite a few things actually.

Hoverboards: They do exist! Unfortunately they aren’t exactly what the film predicted, but they do hover. German companies IFW Dresden and evico Gmbh worked with Car Company Lexus to create a skateboard that hovers on magnets, repelling against magnets in a modified skate park. And it really works.

Tech based on thumbprints: It exists too. Anyone with a next-gen iPhone knows that this exists, but compared to Back to the Future. Using Apple’s Touch ID, users can do anything from opening the phone to paying for a dehydrated pizza (hopefully soon).

Personal virtual reality: It’s already being sold. The Oculus Rift glasses system has been around for a while but hadn’t reached the kind of ubiquity that Back to the Future hinted at. With Oculus Rift’s purchase by Facebook, we can only hope that we’ll get them soon.

Drones: They’re already an integral part of our lives. While the news drone in the film was more benign, the drones of our 2015 perform tasks ranging from photographing our weddings to fighting in wars. In this case, our 2015 jumped ahead of the film.

Videophones: They exist, but there is debate about how well they work. Pretty much every smartphone has two cameras that are used to hold video calls. There is even a company who’s sole purpose is video calling called Skype.

Double neck tie fashion: I’ve seen some people doing it, but only by accident.

Is it really worth it to dissect Back to the Future for cultural relevance and use it to dictate what will be our future technology? Probably not, but seeing how this film hasn’t lost it’s wit or charm over the years, I think of it as aspirational. I’d rather have a funny future than a bleak one.

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