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Has Sci-Fi lost its direction or digital inventions are just not exciting anymore?

image Do we have a Science Fiction imagination shortage? Can we ever be surprised by a new digital gadget again?

I watched Knight and Day movie the other day, it was funny and Cameron Diaz did a nice job. What that caught my attention in this movie was seeing Tom Cruise using a cell phone that looked very much like an iPhone running some sort of location based application to track the bad guys. I believe that few years ago it would’ve looked like a cool futuristic capability, yet these days I found that scene to be as fascinating as someone cooking food using his/her microwave. Actually, this scene got me thinking about the current gap between visionary and fantasy movies. I know that Knight and Day is not considered a Sci-Fi move or a gadget packed film, it is actually a comedy. Yet, seeing an iPhone in a an action movie a la James Bond style (even though that it is a comedy) was enough to trigger my thoughts about where we are in the technology world and this post.

What that also happened during that movie trip is seeing the preview of a new DiCaprio film Inception. This movie is considered a Sci-Fi movie (by IMDB – see next to Genre), but I disagree with that categorization. I can live with smart robots, doctors replacing human body parts with machines, the big brother (no more privacy), and even a trip to space that involved meeting aliens, but, for now, I have hard time making the leap to someone getting inside someone else’s brain, dreams, or people going back in time. I don’t have problem enjoying such a movie, I just don’t see the existing technology even to start supporting this kind of capabilities.

Over the years we saw movies that introduced technology that did not exist yet, but was somehow on the near to mid-term roadmap. These movies actually helped to inspire inventors to build that technology a little later, including smart computers, robots, phone, location based services, touch screens, real-time video streaming,and more. Today, in a movie like Inception I can’t see the next few steps ahead between what that we have now and what that is presented in the movie. Someone could say that Inception is 30, 40, or more steps ahead, and maybe this is true, but for now, it seems more like fantasy to me. I would like to see in a Sci-Fi movie the world 10 to 20 years from now. I would like to see the next generation of scientist inspired by the creative power of Hollywood.

One possible explanation for this phenomenon is that we are maybe getting closer to the point where the digital world has run its course and we need to look for the next thing in other places. The first transistor was invented in 1947 and since then we experienced the digital revolution in almost every part of our lives: communication, commerce, finance, news, entertainment, education, science, politics, transportation, dining and more. Maybe this process is near its ending. At least in modern countries. It could be just a temporary halt and we are about to be surprised with something totally new. Btw, I’m yet to find a good reason for owning an iPad:)

Where to look for the next thing?  PCR was invented in the early Seventies, mapping of the Human Genome was accomplished between 2000-2003, and recently J. Craig Venter Institute announce the construction of the first Self-Replicating Synthetic Bacterial Cell. This seems like the beginning of a new revolution to me with potential products on the mid term road-map (average life expectancy over 100 years).

To be fair to Hollywood, most movies that involved biological Sci-Fi where too scary or depressing to watch(Twelve Monkeys, I Am Legend).

What was your experience watching a recent Sci-Fi movie?

Picture credit: Lara604

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