6 Sci-Fi Movie Technologies That Went Stupidly Backwards
From the beaming technology in Star Trek to the free food dispensers in Star Trek to the interactive sex adventure rooms in Star Trek, sci-fi gadgets make the future seem impossibly great. Except sometimes they absolutely don't. Here are some crazy futuristic science fiction creations that are somehow worse than what we use now.
The "Planetary Defense System" In Star Trek Is Way Worse Than Today's
In the 2009 Star Trek reboot, the villainous Nero travels back in time for a scheme to destroy the Earth. It involves capturing the commander of the Enterprise, Captain Pike, and asking him for the codes to Earth's defense system. Spoilers ahead: Pike says no. Unfortunately, Nero's counterargument is jamming a mind slug down his throat.
But wait, hang on a second ... what the fuck are these codes? Are we expected to believe these people thought up a way to travel beyond the reaches of the galaxy in a warship filled with infinite food dispensers, and they didn't see a problem with having the ENTIRETY of Earth's "defenses" known to any one guy? Star Trek is telling us that no one raised their hand during that meeting to say, "Won't this leave us, like, really susceptible to time-travelers with brain bugs?" BS.
And not only is it strange to keep all the keys to the planet's security in one place, but it seems even stranger to entrust them to a guy who's job is to charge brain-first into an unknown cosmos so definitely filled with brain slugs. And there's not even a plan in place for when those codes are compromised. Once the codes are entered, everyone on Earth is powerless to do anything but watch Nero drill the planet into bits.
The Earth isn't that defenseless now, let alone 200 years in the future. If Nero showed up today, we have tanks, nuclear weapons, drones, guns, and ... uh ... several hundred types of karate? In Star Trek, it's all the responsibility of a few starships (which are all away on missions) and this stupid defense system. Your debit card right now has better security than the entire planet in the 23rd century.
The Hologram in I, Robot Is Worse Than A Post-It Note
In the futuristic world of I, Robot, Chicago is bursting with crazy new technology. Humanity has progressed to the point where they have robot slaves, but not to the point where they can see how something like that might go terribly wrong.
The plot kicks off with the apparent suicide of Dr. Lanning, a doctor of robot-making. Before he "fell" out a window, he set up a hologram of himself that would automatically call Will Smith in the event of his death. It's an incredible interactive program that can a multitude of questions Smith's character is anticipated to ask. Well, sort of. It has extremely limited responses, and never tells Smith anything with any practical use. It hints at a "revolution," but not who will start it. When asked why Dr. Lanning would commit suicide, it coyly suggests that's "the right question," but offers no real answers. It's so vague and cute that it almost seems like it was designed for romantic scavenger hunts, not for future investigators to investigate your death. Why even make it? Just leave a note that says "THE ROBOTS ARE REBELLING, SO IF I COMMIT SUICIDE, I PROBABLY DIDN'T."
Sure, the hologram obviously utilizes some advanced technology, but all of its basic requirements could be fulfilled by a voicemail. The doctor wanted Will to investigate the robots and discover their evil intentions, but why turn that into a series of word puzzles? Wouldn't most robot-hating detectives be perfectly willing to look into an uprising of terrorist murderbots without a hologram of a dead guy winking at them and leading them toward a fun mystery?
And the cuteness does not pay off. The robots take over before Smith manages to unravel much of anything. A piece of paper that said "Kill all the robots, like right now" would have solved every problem Act 1 presented. The movie attempts to explain this away by saying that the evil AI, VIKI, was holding Lanning hostage in his apartment, but that makes the fact that he created a pointlessly complicated avatar MORE dumb, not less.
The Hand Phones In Total Recall Are Way Worse Than Regular Phones
Current technology is doing absolutely everything it can to go hands-free. We have voice-activated lights, driverless cars, and video game systems we can strap to our faces. In the Total Recall remake, they decided to go in the opposite direction. They put phones literally into their hands.
These hand phones are supposed to be badass spy tech that only covert agents use. Why, you can make calls by putting your hand to your face, and you can utilize any glass surface for video calls. You know, when it's important to keep your discussions private.
For starters, modern phone technology gives you infinitely more freedom while you talk. Right now, you can share a video call while you walk around, or sexily point the camera down your pants. In Total Recall, you have to stay in one spot with your hand glued to a window. Do you have any idea how flexible you have to be to get your genitals into the frame from that position? With one of those, you're either looking at the taint of the world's greatest yoga master or your phone call is rated G.
And forget how everyone nearby gets to see and hear your conversation. Where is the camera? Does the guy on the other end also have his hand pressed up against some department store's window? And what happens when you need to reboot your phone? Do you have to go to a surgeon and carve it out every time, or can you slap your hand against something hard a few times? And let's not look past how you'll be talking to everyone with the exact same device you use to masturbate. It's like answering a video call from your mother on your fleshlight.
Back To The Future's Self-Adjusting Clothes Are Worse Than Regular Clothes
In Back To The Future Part II, Marty McFly travels to a wildly unlikely version of 2015 where the Cubs have won the World Series and a woman is president. Along the way, Marty picks up some future clothes to blend in. They're so advanced that they automatically fit to his body -- the shoes shrink to his foot size and even lace themselves! They also have a weirdly dickish computerized voice built in, which seems like a step backwards for customer service.
Wouldn't that mean every jacket is really a size XXXXL squeezed down to fit you by mechanized jacket-squeezing robotics? Wouldn't that be heavy? Way too warm? Prone to deadly constriction-related accidents when exposed to rain? You know what might be nicer? A regular jacket already in your size. And that's before we even get into the "My shoes crippled my feet" class-action lawsuits. Marty's shoes do not seem gentle when they crank down on his foot without warning or provocation. If one of your toes is bent the wrong way in this 2015, your future-shoe is going to snap it off and vent the pulped bone and flesh out its waste ports.
In A.I., Their Search Engine Is A Floating Head Who Understands Nothing And Charges Money
Since no one has talked about A.I. in 15 years, you probably don't remember the plot. It was about a young robot boy named David on a quest to find the Blue Fairy, a character from Pinocchio he thinks will grant his heart's desire, because he's an idiot robot who doesn't know how anything works. Along the way, he partners up with Jude Law -- who is a humanoid sex toy, because Hollywood is a place where you don't get fired for saying "What if the little boy was best friends with a fuckbot?" Law takes the boy to the mysterious Dr. Know, who is said to know everything in the world.
It turns out that David has been brought to what is essentially a glorified information kiosk with a ridiculous mascot. And it can't provide information for crap. It can only answer questions asked in very, very specific ways, and also charges money. What? This is a future world in which sex dolls go off on their own and pursue full, enriching lives, but their search engines are less functional than a modern cable company's automated help desk?
And you have to sit through a flash intro before you can use it.
And this movie came out in 2001, when search engines definitely existed. There were television commercials for a website where you could ask an internet butler to find things for you. And yet while the regular world could ask Jeeves the location of both of Cindy Margolis' tits for free, the robots of the future were stuck pumping quarters into an idiot mall kiosk with the deductive reasoning of barely one of Cindy Margolis' tits.
In The Future, All Important Files Are Stored In Giant, Stupid, Virtual Reality Structures
The 1994 Michael Crichton movie Disclosure is mostly about Demi Moore sexually harassing Michael Douglas. So it's already pretty fantastical, and that's before you get into the hilariously futuristic technology of their company, DIGICORP. See, when Douglas needs to access some files, he has to put on gloves and goggles, get scanned by a VR system, and stroll through miles of virtual museum where virtual filing cabinets are kept alongside history's most contemplative and treasured art. Only it is way, way slower than that sounds.
The virtual building is enormous and takes actual minutes to walk from wing to wing, and for added convenience, there are also deadly pits. Oh, did we forget to mention this file system is littered with certain-death pits?
And that doesn't even account for the dangers of evil virtual intruders deleting all your files. Something Douglas encounters when a skeleton wearing Demi Moore's headshot hacks into the system and attacks his cabinets.
Similar VR storage systems exist in almost every '90s movie about technology. Something about that decade really made us think the future would involve crawling into our computers and manually carrying files around. The Lawnmower Man and Johnny Mnemonic took it a step further and added a bunch of random unlabeled shapes to their interfaces, accurately predicting that all modern hard drives would be cluttered with useless, floating 20-sided dice.
And if you think file storage was ridiculous, hoo boy, wait'll you see what they thought sex was going to be like. '90s movies were absolutely certain that the cyber-future of sex was chaotic flashes of elbows and nipples, Trapper Keeper landscapes, and featureless chrome monsters embracing. Picture rubbing up against a mouth-like area of a silvery fractal man amidst lovescapes of bouncing polyhedrons. You know what, why don't we leave you with a shot of it? Warning: EXTREMELY NSFW.
Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes there. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction http://www.asymmetryfiction.com for all your fiction needs. Jordan Breeding is a part-time writer, a full-time lover, and an all-the-time guitarist.
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