submit to reddit
Pin it
Back to the Future II - dates
"Back to the Future Day" is rapidly approaching.

This fall, expect to see an onslaught of social media posts about how scientists and engineers have failed us because they haven't invented hover boards, self-drying clothes, holographic sharks, or flying cars. These sorts of Back to the Future memes have been showing up on social media every October for the past few years, often with the dates misquoted. These posts also tend to lament the lack of the nifty technologies showcased in Back to the Future.

And it isn't just Back to the Future that makes people get all nostalgic for the science fiction technology of yesteryear. At the turn of the century, people also bemoaned the huge gap between the manned spaceflight program depicted in Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of Arthur Clark's classic novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. We also don't have food in the form of pills, or robot butlers, or lightsabers, or holodecks, or wrist phones either. Oh wait, we do have wrist phones, so we can check that one off the list.

But maybe the tech that we do have is actually better than what is depicted in contemporary science fiction movies.

Here's what bothers me: the same people who use their smart phones to post these "Back to the Future Day" memes to Facebook, and demand that scientists get off their lazy butts and build a working hoverboard, often take the technology that we do have for granted. Remember that Marty and Doc Brown had to coordinate their efforts to steal the sports almanac from Biff using walkie talkies because the universe depicted in Back to the Future hadn't even conceived of the idea of a useful portable phone.

Back to the Future II - Marty with walkie talkie
If only Marty and Doc had cell phones

Granted, the network to use that phone wouldn't have existed in 1955 or 1985, but that isn't the point. Even in 2015, future Biff Junior and his gang have to go looking for Marty Junior in the diner to find out if he would join them in their criminal endeavors. Nowadays, that would probably be accomplished with an email or txt message, but those future kids didn't have the tech for that, so they had to wander around town actively looking for each other.

The point that I'm trying to make is that many science fiction stories made false predictions about where the advances in technology would occur. They make grand predictions in one field (flying cars or warp drives), but completely fail to anticipate potential advances in other fields (networking or computer UI). Real science may not have developed antigravity fields for hoverboards, but it has produced a consistent and exponential increase in computer power and connectivity that very few science fiction writers had anticipated.

Computers, smart phones, and the internet have become ubiquitous in our culture, giving everybody virtually instant and unlimited access to information and the sum of all human knowledge, and fostering intercontinental communication and collaboration. And this can be carried around at your fingertips at all times. Unfortunately, this also means that people have instant access to virtually unlimited misinformation, but there's always a price for progress.

You don't have to come from the 23rd century (like Mr. Scott) to think keyboards are "quaint".

I don't know about you, but I much prefer my laptop and cell phone over having a stupid hoverboard - say nothing of the internet infrastructure and protocols that allow me to write this very blog. Heck, I can't even skateboard anyway (though I do snowboard - very poorly). I'd also much rather have one of the self-driving cars that is set to hit the road within the next few years than to have a flying DeLorean. Letting the car drive itself so that I can turn commute time into productive work or leisure time is way more appealing to me than having to pilot my car through controlled inter-city airspace and having to worry about other drivers merging into my lane from above or below, instead of just left or right. Not to mention the stress and terror of getting caught in the turn radius of a semi-truck and the turbines of a 777 jet liner.

The ubiquitousness of information technology is also considerably beneficial to society - much moreso than some novel hoverboard. Before you complain about digital media rotting the minds of our modern youth, just think of all the 12-year-olds building robots in school, writing their own top-selling mobile apps, or providing professional-quality tech-support to their parents. The accessibility of information means that more people (including those in traditionally-underpriviliged communities and developing countries) can educate themselves instead of relying on failing or non-existent public school systems.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere."
   - Isaac Asimov
Star Trek - Spock crying
It's OK Spock, I'd cry too if I lived in a
future with those archaic computers.

More than ever, innovators and entrepreneurs can literally come from anywhere, regardless of their background and upbringing. Heck, the modern smart phones and tablets that we have now make the technology used by Mr. Spock and even Captain Picard look quaint.

So as October 21st approaches, think twice before sharing the "where's my hoverboard?" memes, and take a moment to appreciate the rapid, history-changing advances in technology that have taken place. I'll take the internet, my Android phone, and gaming laptop over some silly hoverboard any day.

And maybe those hoverboards and warp drives won't be far behind...

Comments (1) -

05/14/2020 11:51:12 #


Contribute Comment


We'll incarnate your avatar from the services below.
PlayStation Network Steam Xbox LIVE Facebook MySpace Pinterest Twitter YouTube deviantART LiveJournal

  • Comment
  • Preview

Grid Clock Widget
12      60
11      55
10      50
09      45
08      40
07      35
06      30
05      25
04      20
03      15
02      10
01      05
Grid Clock provided by trowaSoft.

A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

Check out my YouTube content at

Follow me on Twitter at:


If you enjoy my content, please consider Supporting me on Patreon:

FTC guidelines require me to disclose that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made by clicking on Amazon product links on this site. All Amazon Associate links are for products relevant to the given blog post, and are usually posted because I recommend the product.

Without Gravity

And check out my colleague, David Pax's novel Without Gravity on his website!

Featured Post

The Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season RecruitingThe Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season Recruiting08/01/2022 If you're a fan of college football video games, then I'm sure you're excited by the news from early 2021 that EA will be reviving its college football series. They will be doing so without the NCAA license, and under the new title, EA Sports College Football. I guess Bill Walsh wasn't available for licensing either? Expectations...

Random Post

A dislocated shoulder wont stop me!A dislocated shoulder wont stop me!01/17/2020 Snowboarding is a dangerous sport. A couple years ago, I almost broke my neck in a fall. I fell face-first so hard that my goggles were crushed. I was lucky to have escaped that fall with only a bloody nose, broken goggles, and maybe a very mild concussion. That incident inspired me to buy a helmet -- something my partner had...

Month List

Recent Comments

Comment RSS