Back To The Future? We’re Already There


“Drivers? Where we’re going we don’t need drivers.” That’s what Doc Brown should have said. But instead, he uttered the now famous line about flying cars not needing roads. Alas, the world in 2015 is not what we thought it would be 30 years ago.

Today marks the date featured as the future in the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II, and I’ve been waiting for this since I was 10 years old. From the moment I watched the film, I dreamt of the future as they portrayed it – a world of flying cars, robots, and hoverboards. It was utopia. As the years passed, and I watched the world unfold somewhat differently, I began to think about the role of science fiction (and prediction in general) in our cultural narrative. Was it more important to be right? Or to inspire? In the spirit of that inquiry, here are a few words about the film, the future and our place in it.

Time circuits depicting the date and time of the future

Think back to the world of 1985-89, when the trilogy began and these films were imagined. Madonna and Wham! were topping the charts. People were listening to them on Sony Walkman portable cassette players. The Apple IIGS was hot shit. No cell phones. No Internet. Tim Berners-Lee was just developing its early foundations at CERN.

In that context, the job of the creative team behind the film was extremely challenging. They had to imagine a world nearly 30 years in the future, from a vantage point where digitization was still a largely academic concept. They had to make it conceivable, but also fun and entertaining. And they had to bring it to life in front of our eyes, without the benefit of modern computer graphics. —> Read More