October 21, 2015
Back to the Future
is now in the past
Great Scott, we're in the future!

the future from 30 years ago

Oh boy, today marks the “future” date of Back to the Future. After this day, all of Back to the Future will have happened in the past.

Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel thirty years into the future, and October 21 is the date they travel to, where they encounter all kinds of futuristic technology, some of which would still be futuristic by today’s standards.

Some predictions:

Drones exist!

but they’re pricey, loud, niche and unwieldy. And they “wild west” days of flying them without a license are soon over.

We can pay with our electronics!

but it’s confusing and hardly supported. Google (and now Apple) has been trying for years. Vendors and customers don’t seem to be getting onboard.

We have virtual money!

'Some bandito stole all of my virtual money! Enjoy your first class flight to Miami, your new Nordstrom jacket and your gas station burrito, because your balls are mine.'

Again. We have virtual money!! but… bitcoin is unwieldy and not mainstream. You can’t easily use bitcoin to pay for a cup of coffee, or get groceries yet. This day remains to be seen, especially with all the bitcoin fraud of late. The irony is probably that once bitcoin gets more regulated, it will catch on with the investors, and eventually with the rest of the world.

Video Calling

of all the tech in this list, video calling probably works the best. I use Skype and Google Hangouts for work, and (very occasionally) use FaceTime to speak with family and friends (more occasional are FaceTime butt dials)

Fingerprint scanners exist

but don’t trust using these as easy access for your house yet although this does exist …use your own judgment

Wearable technology

wearable is actually catching on, though most of this technology is separate from the actual threads we wear. We do have arduino and capacitive threads, but they’re nothing more than works of arts or engineering experiments at this point. Also, what’s the point of a self-lacing shoe?

Hover boards

would companies like Lexus even work on these if it weren’t for the movie?

A lot of tech that the movie predicted actually exists today. But we don’t really seem to be living in this “high tech” world that the scenes from the movie predict.

Technology isn’t really the problem- engineering seems to move at a faster speed than cultural adoption. We still like to do things the old-fashioned way, and we’re very skeptical about adopting “revolutionary” technology, because we don’t understand it (self-driving cars), or we are actually afraid of it (GMO food). Our ignorance gets in the way of the future.

30 years forward

This year also marks my 30 years of existence (I was born right before the movie came out! I guess I’m still a young’un). I wonder what the world will look like in another 30 years; what will happen during my (perhaps) most productive years, and what the world will look like right before retirement? (kidding, at this pace I’ll never get to retire)

What will the world look like on October 21, 2045 (man, that feels so far from now)?

Clothing

Clothing will remain the same, as it has been for the last 2,000 years. We will probably still not have a lot of wearable clothing. Aside from medical devices, electronics in clothing would just be expensive and kind of pointless.

Oil is still king

How long have we tried to get fusion technology going? Alternative fuels? Solar? Don’t get me wrong, we’ve made great strides in alternative fuelds. But in 30 years, most of the world will still be running on the good old black gold. Cars might have found another way, but heavy industry and manufacturing will still rely on this grimy goop, despite more frequent and far worse disasters than the Gulf Oil spill.

More people will appear in the world

The population will grow denser. But we will still deal with the same problems we’re dealing with today. We will find solutions that will deal with our problems, and we will still be stratified by the division of rich and poor (like we have been for the last 2,000 years)

We will not run out of food.

Climate change will occur, and despite more people and less arable land, we will be more efficient raising and delivering hardy crops.

We will still be bigoted

The victimizers and victims will be different, but the same amounts of bigotry and racism will remain. With the muslim population growing and slowly overshadowing the ‘white’ population, count on more violence and racism on the streets.

TVs will get bigger

If I get all of the others wrong, this is the only one that will be right. Will we get better TV? Maybe. I’m not sure if our current run of great TV-writing will last for that long

Self-driving Vehicles will almost be a thing

We will absolutely see more self-driving assisted technology. Cars will be our “wearable devices” but… we will still be slow in adopting fully-automated technology.

Self-driving trucks will take over the interstates, but they will have an uphill struggle becoming ubiquitous thanks to labor laws and unions

Self driving cars will appear on the streets, but any accident or bug or problem involving one will cast companies in a harsh shadow. We will not have fully embraced this technology, and many will resist its full adoption.

Technology will be transparent; We will stay skeptical

We will be dependent on technology more than we ever have. But technology will not come in the form of more or larger (except for TVs!). We will lose much of the technology fetish we’ve adopted over the past twenty years. Not quite luddites, we will come to expect technology to always work, but we will not want to tweak dials and tap screens anymore. We will want technology to bring us together more, as people – we will want to crave that personal connection, of presence and mindfulness.

More technology will not mean more screen time. And by the way,

They will still not get VR right

Oculus will almost get it right. Almost.