6 Sci-Fi Technologies With Suspiciously Unaddressed Problems

#3. Looper -- Why Entrust Loopers With Killing Themselves?

In a dystopian future, criminals have developed a foolproof plan to get away with murder: time travel. They capture their hapless enemies, hogtie them, and shove them 30 years into the past, where assassins, called loopers, are waiting to blow their heads off and dispose of the bodies. All parties are happy: the loopers are paid richly for their services, the mob bosses get to evade present-day authorities, and the soon-to-be-dead guys at least get to take a cool trip through time.

And Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets to pretend he'll turn into Bruce Willis.

One tiny drawback for loopers, however, is that they know too much to be allowed to roam free in the future, so their contracts state that they'll eventually be sent back in time to be killed by their own younger selves. But other than that, they are free to do whatever they want (without having to worry about the state of their livers or lungs) until the past literally catches up with them and shoots them in the face.

The Problem:

Why send the loopers back to the one person who has a reason not to kill them, though? All time-traveling victims have their faces covered, but the movie shows us that there's nothing stopping them from humming a melody that only their past version will recognize -- or, you know, talking, since their mouths aren't completely covered.


As a result, occasionally a looper will hesitate and his future self will escape, creating a whole mess of complications (it's what sets off the entire plot of the movie). The only practical purpose of this system seems to be that it allows the bosses to send the loopers the extra retirement bonus they get for completing their last job, but they could just as easily send that money by itself, or with a dead mule, once they've confirmed that the looper was killed by someone else.

"Here's the payment for the job you haven't completed, amoral killer. Don't try to con us or anything."

Oh, and did we mention that in the future, time travel is about as illegal as murder? The crime bosses are setting themselves up for failure; if they don't get in trouble for breaking the laws of man, they will get caught for breaking the laws of physics.

#2. Surrogates -- Robotic Surrogates Would Squash Our Babies

In the world of Surrogates, human beings spend all day sitting in comfy futuristic chairs while their remote-controlled robo-avatars go about their daily lives. It's kind of like playing World of Warcraft, only you never leave the hou- actually, it's exactly like playing WoW. Your surrogate even looks like an idealized version of yourself.

Which means at some point, Bruce Willis' character said, "Yes, I want that comb-over."

Pretty much everyone has a surrogate in this future, to the point that it's incredibly unusual to see real human beings out in the real world. And why should they come out? This way, you can do anything you want without risking any bodily harm -- the chair itself makes sure your body stays in shape, so you don't get bed sores or butt cramps. If some dick hadn't started using surrogates to kill people, it would have been a utopia.

The Problem:

Except for one thing: How the hell do you raise kids in this world? At one point, we're shown an ad for "Surrogates for Kids," so we know that the whole "human beings start out as fragile screaming midgets" problem hasn't yet been solved in this future. Kids still exist.

They don't seem to understand how skateboards work, though.

But surrogates are incredibly strong -- they can jump insane distances and pick up lampposts and so forth -- and we're explicitly shown that the low-budget models used by a big chunk of the population have really terrible coordination. At one point we see one trying and failing to put a key in a lock. Now imagine that super strong, super clumsy robot trying to change a baby's diaper.

You can see the problem, right? But even if you can afford one of the more expensive models, there's another problem: When do you give the kids a surrogate? They can't survive in a world of careless robots without a robot of their own, unless they enjoy being accidentally hip-checked into a wall by a powerwalking surrogate.

"PleaseletthatbegumIsteppedon. PleaseletthatbegumIsteppedon. Ple-"

Of course, we're just avoiding the bigger issue here, which is: If everyone stays in all day, how do they conceive babies in the first place? Are the robots anatomically correct? You failed to address the issue of robot penises, movie.

#1. Star Wars -- Blasters Are a Stupid, Stupid Weapon

We're using Star Wars here because it's the most famous and beloved example, but every self-respecting sci-fi franchise has them -- laser guns are the coolest guns ever, and in every futuristic universe where they've been invented, they've also completely replaced regular guns. We've never seen a Stormtrooper shooting a rifle -- after all, why would you bother with bullets if you have freaking lasers?

Bullets don't go nearly as well with Pink Floyd and LSD.

The Problem:

You have to understand something about the guns armies use right now: They're not designed to put a neat hole in the enemy. They're designed to create ragged, horrific wounds that bleed a lot. But like all energy weapons in the Star Wars universe, blasters do the opposite. They cauterize wounds -- that's why we never see any Stormtroopers or Rebels bleeding after being hit by those things, and why when Luke's hand got chopped off by a light saber (which presumably works the same way as blasters), it didn't turn into a Tarantino-esque bloodsplosion. That's like creating a sword that instantly disinfects and patches up any wound it creates.

"Stop whining. These were originally invented for Padawan circumcisions."

And then there's the fact that they also give up your position. If you're in the middle of a war zone and shooting at your enemies from cover, it's pretty important that they don't know where you're standing so that they can't, you know, shoot back. But if you're using a Star Wars-style blaster, every single shot fired is like a big neon sign pointing in your direction. Hell, that's actually understating it -- the thick, slow-moving energy beams are a hell of a lot more visible than neon, even in broad daylight.

But almost none of that can hold a candle to the one thing that, in the real world, would render the blasters utterly useless: Laser shots appear to move much slower than bullets, or even arrows. Characters easily dodge them or deflect the beams with light sabers. We don't care if you have "Jedi reflexes" or not: If you tried that shit with a bullet, you'd soon find yourself sans hand. Also, we've seen non-Jedis dodge laser blasts, too, once while sitting three feet from the guy doing the shooting. You remember that scene, right?

We're just gonna leave this here.

Chris blogs over at Laffington.com.

For more sci-fi technology that doesn't jive with us, check out 5 Powerful Sci-Fi Technologies Wasted by Their Own Movies and 6 Technologies Conspicuously Absent from Sci-Fi Movies.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Shocking Truth About Gun Violence (By Dogs).

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn the difference between a photon torpedo and a proton torpedo.

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