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December 6th, 2002

Back to the Future Scorecard

In Back to the Future II, young Marty McFly experienced life in 2015 for a few days. 2015 isn’t that far off now, especially with the New Year beckoning, so I thought it was high time to see just how likely the 2015 in BTTF really is.

  • Hoverboard. The infamous hoverboard gained notoriety when producer Robert Zemeckis claimed they existed at the time. In reality, they feel pretty far off – given we have nothing at a consumer level that beats gravity. Maybe the Segway will ‘replace’ the Hoverboard in history, though. Likelihood: 30%.
  • Self-adjusting and self-drying clothing and shoes. When he first gets to 2015, Marty puts on a large jacket. By pressing a button, the jacket resizes to fit him. Similarly, his shoes are too large and have no laces; a button makes them fit. A very cool technology, and given that wearable computers are practically here, I think it’s very likely that these will exist in 2015. Likelihood: 95%.
  • Flying cars. Not if the Bush administration has its way! [rimshot] (Thank you, thank you! Try the veal!) …Anyway… hover cars are a very neat concept, of course, but flying cars at high speeds? Highways in the sky? It sounds pretty far-fetched, even though we were supposed to have all of this stuff in 2000. I maintain that we won’t have them until at least 2020, and that’ll only be because the Segway doesn’t change the way we build cities. Likelihood: 20%.
  • Fully automated restaurants. The Cafe 80s was a fully computerized restaurant, featuring a Max Headroom-like Ronald Reagan acting as the ‘waiter’. Given that Europe has been developing enormous automated vending machines, I don’t think this is far fetched. I don’t think a Cafe 80s will really exist in 2015, though, given that 80s nostalgia is an ongoing thing now. It won’t make it another 12 years. Likelihood: 85%.
  • Pepsi at a restaurant costing $50.00. Doc gives Marty a fifty to buy a Pepsi. That’d mean in 12 years, the cost of a Pepsi at a diner would increase nearly 25 times. I don’t know about you, but that would really, really, really make things difficult for me. Likelihood: 25%.
  • Bionic implants and ‘muscle suits’. Biff’s grandson Griff has bionic implants to supplement his brain (or lack thereof) and a specially-designed suit to give him more strength. This will happen. Likelihood: 76.3%.
  • Changing newspapers. As Marty recovers from an experience with his self-drying jacket, he and Doc read USA Today, which changes dynamically in their hands. Paper computers exist, and I think they’ll be mature by 2015. Likelihood: 90%.
  • Death of doorknobs, wallets, and IDs. Instead of doorknobs, doors use fingerprint identification to let people in. Fingerprint IDs, in fact, are everywhere: they pay for things and provide positive identification. It’s a really cool idea, and given how far things are right now, I don’t see it not happening. Likelihood: 95%.
  • Roll-up TVs. TVs in 2015 are all big, for the most part, and are roll-up – like projector surfaces today. I think the technology will exist to make an ultra-thin TV, but as a roll-up? Naah, it’ll just vanish – with Clapper-like ease. Likelihood: 60%.
  • Hydrator. This kitchen appliance would take a small foodstuff, entirely devoid of moisture, and give it all the moisture it needs. Black and Decker will make this appliance, and it will be in pink. Best of all, it’ll make a whole pizza from Pizza Hut in about 10 seconds. However, we haven’t had any big cooking innovations since the microwave… so this seems dream-like. Likelihood: 40%.
  • Mr. Fusion. A device attached to a car that will convert anything – garbage, for instance – into fuel. This would be an incredible invention: it’d take care of our global garbage problem while providing fuel for our retrofitted flying DeLoreans. I would love one. It seems far-fetched today, but given what Toyota and Honda are doing with car engine technology… I could see it in 2015, but not at the consumer level. Likelihood: 20%.
  • Vietnamese vacations. Marty and Doc stand by a travel poster urging readers to “Surf Vietnam”. People already visit Vietnam today (surprise!), and I could see it becoming a hip tourist destination. Likelihood: 78%.

Overall, the movie did a pretty bad job of showing us the future. What were they thinking? We’d continue to have real, life-changing inventions that helped people live better, more enjoyable, and more productive lives for a long period of time… a sort of neo-Renaissance?

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

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