← Technological Analysis of Back to the Future II (1985)

Realism and Accuracy

Of the Technologies Featured in the Film

While the movie was able to accurately predict some of the technologies like the video conferencing we have today, the home automation, and HUD augmented reality technology,  it was also pretty off with some things. The mixture of old technologies mixed with the new fictional technologies is bizarre. They have hover-boards, but still have newspapers for news dissemination and telephone booths in the open.  These are just poor predictions.  The future as depicted in general is almost cartoony.

It seems like the 1985-view of the future was that everything would basically become upgraded, but no new technologies would be introduced that changed the way of life of the general population. Kids have now upgraded from skateboards to hoverboards, televisions are now larger and voice-controlled, shoes now tie themselves, etc., but everything is still used the same way. There basically were no social implications of computing technology. 

Also seems like in 1985 people viewed software-based systems as inherently glitchy and problematic -- this could perhaps be due to Therac-25 and constantly crashing computers, which resulted in six deaths between 1985-1987 [1]. Even in 2015 they seemed to think the robot waiters would be really glitchy and devices would constantly fail because of low batteries and just deliver half-doses with no warning or something.

The creators of the movie also were unable to predict the whole handheld technology revolution. There were plenty of screens throughout the movie, including on wearable technologies such as the heads-up displays Marty Jr. (2015) and Doc Brown wore, but no handheld mobile devices that are so common today.


[1] Michael J. Quinn, Ethics of the Information Age