Nasa / Space

What are the most prophetic science fiction movies?

TechRepublic members and regular Geekenders have debated their favorite sci-fi genre movies on numerous occasions, but based solely on the criteria of how prophetic a movie has been, what sci-fi/futuristic movies would you nominate -- and why?

Here's a good list for the Geek-faithful to pick apart: Popularmechanics.com compiled its list of the most prophetic science fiction movies of all time a while back, and while TechRepublic members have long debated best-of lists in the sci-fi category, I thought the focus on the "prophetic" quality was interesting. I know that many of you probably have your own nominees to argue for, so first, let's look at the Popular Mechanics Top Ten:

  • 10. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • 9. Short Circuit
  • 8. Soylent Green
  • 7. Blade Runner
  • 6. The Running Man
  • 5. Destination Moon
  • 4. The Truman Show
  • 3. The Road Warrior
  • 2. Minority Report
  • 1. Gattaca

For each entry, PM cited the particular items that each movie "forecast," such as the space tourism trend that cropped up in 2001: A Space Odyssey. What movies do you think belong on this list? And, of course, explain why. Have at it!

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Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

234 comments
snaik95899
snaik95899

Terminator Johnny Mnemonic Mad Max Equilibrium Aeon Flux The Island Minority Report Jurassic Park The 6th Day

Crypt0qu33n
Crypt0qu33n

There was a story by Vonnegut, I believe, that was made into a movie on PBS called " Harrison Bergeron". It was about how gifted people were given handicaps so they were only "average". That no onecould be smarter/pretty/more talentedthan anyone else. Sounds like political correctness to me!

Crypt0qu33n
Crypt0qu33n

I saw a movie in the early 80's called "Wrong is Right" In it, terrorists groups would blow themsleves up on tv just for the coverage. No cameras-no suicide bombers. SOund Familiar?

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

I know this is an old thread, but I have to get my feelings for the PM article off my chest. Genetic profiling bugs me, not just the moral argument, but, probably, genetics are not as influential as a lot of people think. There are two strong, even undeniable, arguments that go against predicting one's behavior through genetic profiling. 1. There is a massive psychological study published recently (in the past two or three years) that proves that as newborns, humans are blank slates, therefore all behavior is learned, not pre-programmed as genetic profiling proposes. We learn dysfunctional behaviors. 2. The emerging science of Epigenetics strongly suggests that environment, not genes, have the most influence on human behavior. Thus, if one lives in a violent environment, your epigenetic chemistry will suppress the genes that regulate violent behavior as survival mechanism, and one's behavior is prone to be more violent in stressful situations, even to the point of being a sociopath. Both arguments prove that human behavior is far more complex than mapping one's genes and seeing what could be a dominant trait. If a company denies me a job through genetic profiling, I believe I have grounds to sue for a large settlement.

MalcolmG
MalcolmG

How about H G Wells "Things to come" it predicted several 'things' one notable one was the 'Walking Sickness' after the use of a terrible weapon, survivors of the 2 H bombs dropped on Japan showed many of the symptoms H G described many years earlier

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

No mention of [i]Equilibrium[/i]? A great social commentary, and I don't find it particularly difficult to envision the day when various drugs are embraced as an answer to social problems. Parallel - Serenity - Parliaments experimental drug creates the Rievers. :0

haimsn
haimsn

In the early 50's there was a movie based on a Robert Heinlein story. Both were named "Destination Moon". This was one of the first stories to stipulate that a multi-stage rocket would be needed for this mission. I saw this movie in 1953. In 1963, I was working at NASA-MSC on the Apollo project. In 1973, any person who was going to land on the moon had already done so.

aandruli
aandruli

Rich people telling politicians what to do, terrorists, paperwork stopping government in its tracks, and oh yes, secret government torture practices

makwolven
makwolven

hmmm... pocket communicators long before star trek, big flat display screen in flying saucer, robbie the robot an AI robot adhering to the basic robots rules of not harming humans, synthesis of common elements into useful products ... sand and transistors anyone? Twinkies? A networked "consciousness" server amplifying puny human's capabilities, vaporizing ray guns (lasers) and throw in Anne Francis's skimpy outfit and sexual boldness along with uniforms Vanilla Ice would feel comfortable in... The movie.. visionary, pure 50's cheese and beef cake, mixed with enough stuff to terrify a six year old in a wonderful old vaudeville cinema. It let me see things that I knew were logical and made me realize that our collective will is more powerful than we realize.

tptorpey
tptorpey

Dune. replace Fremen with Bedouin and spice with oil...the rest is easy.

john.calvert
john.calvert

If you ask the Tron guy, he'll tell you Tron was one of the most prophetic movies. For the way computer code fought computer code. Me I don't have any that aren't already in the list so I thought I'd throw this one in.

destimator
destimator

I didn't see Time Machine referenced(not the book...). Either version seemed to profess a bit of Prophesy. The similarities between the two movies include what we are supposedly going to do to ourselves in the not too distant future. I suppose the original intent of this line was for the machinery of our time but I believe there might be a correlation between the two. Well, that's my couple of coppers. reprobate

Jaqui
Jaqui

that no one has yet mentioned 20,000 leagues under the sea. Sorry, but it was a Sci-Fi novel, and done as a movie. and every bit of technology Jules Verne put into the book has come true. Nuclear Power. Divers, working at depths where it was impossible when the story was written. Submarines Giant Squid, they have recently found evidence under the Antarctic Ice Cap of squid large enough to actually be able to kill a sperm whale. So even though it was a fantastic myth, it is now very close to being scientific fact.

codesNstuff
codesNstuff

I agree that Gattaca has to be the most phrophectic at this time, how ever The Matrix should definately be in that top 10 list. The computer's have more and more capabilities that sooner or later they could very well become more intelligent. There are already computers that learn.

george.theophi
george.theophi

Taking the view that PM's aritcle means "what has come true?". I would nominate Star Trek for the most accepted and manufactured technologies - Handheld mobile comms device = Mobile phone. - "Swish" door = Automatic doors - Talking computer - can you imagine this even now, but it is real? - Universally available information - Internet - Uhura's wireless earpiece = bluetooth & IR headsets - Men wearing leotards!!! - Space ships = Only the USS Enterprise counts, of course. What else, anyone?

gr8audioguy
gr8audioguy

Have to toss Galaxy Quest in the mix (at least for remote consideration) Alien abductions, Sci-Fi cons.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Most of us are slaves to technology, with the exception of an elite few :) Sometimes the technology can be mistaken for flesh and blood.

gdomingo
gdomingo

Arnold is Governor of California in 2008 (That is wrote from the book), we've been told to conserve on toilet paper (What's her face), virtual sex, (Sexting, Interactive Internet porn) physical contact of any kind is looked down upon (High-fiving in school is considered an assault) a messianic figure as our leader (Obama will save us all) Swaering will get you ticketed (New York) Smoking is banned, People revert to bands of people stealing food (Name just about any large town) Miniscule Middle class (if you don't think the current policies are heading that way your naive) Emergence of Taco Bell (Let's face it, about 1/3 of the restaurants are Yum/Taco Bell or McDonalds, and the upcoming tax increase and health care will wipe out just about all the small restaurants) Safety foam for car crashes, alredy used in some military vehicles. Street cameras every where (coming to a street corner near you if not already there) RE-contitioning instead of punnishing prisoners. Virtual Meetings. Commercials being the most popular media (infomercials drag in more money that advertizing via standard venues) Not to mention all the basics like cell phones, low voltage lighting, smaller cop cars, more congested cities, intranet, etc.

oxydal
oxydal

I've got to throw a couple into the frey -- "Things to Come", H.G. Wells & "1984", George Orwell

hcombs
hcombs

One of the BIG hits in 2001 A Space Oddesy was the prediction of flat screen laptops to view videos and perform other computing functions. In one of the movie posters you see an astronaut on the moon entering data on a virtual keypad on his A4 sized laptop, another prediction come true.

Reboot XXXI
Reboot XXXI

Where?s Matrix, I Robot = (Metropolis), Terminator, AI, RoboCop, perhaps even Transformers is sort of prophetic??? Mean, aren?t machines and computers becoming too good and too smart for us? We have the knowledge but they will not have any "ethical" issues to worry about: Human Clonation??? The list of must prophetic sci-fi movies must be larger.

twobrats64
twobrats64

Are you people blind??? Here we have a propehtic tale of the little guy fighting the arrogant incompetence of the military industrial complex with nothing more than Head & Shoulders shampoo. Add to this the extraordinarily fine acting and Seann William Scott singing "You Are So Beautiful," and you have the makings of a blockbuster!

Mabrick
Mabrick

If you what to talk about prophetic I don't think the last forests from Earth being housed under domes in space is much more prophetic in view of current climate change and the rate of deforestation on this planet. No, I am not a rabid environmentalists but let's give the nod where the nod is deserved!

older ****
older ****

but this has been bothering me for a while [don't know how many will be coming back--hopefully many/all--but this forum is getting dated], but here goes: From the posdts, many of you [and all of you would not be a stretch at all], are quite [very], bright, for a subject that requires some independent/salient thinking. Why is it then, that many of you have not posted some sort of a Bio in your profiles? I [62yrs old], have... ..And would be VERY interested in reading yours After being in Company[s] management from '73-92, and downsized 3 times, I went back to school [ITT-only--an AA Degree-but a 3.86GPA], and have never been happier. Until the last downsize, which was age-based--and it was an R&D Lab, with no superior to report to.--The best job in my life--wrote my own performance review at my 3rd year. Some of you have been doing this, in one capacity or another [my fingers never touched a K/B till I was 48 !!] for a long time, and your experiences/growth/traing/etc must be fascinating. I don't want to sound critical, but seriously, give it some thought !! [I have actually been thinking about upgrading mine----it was done in a RUSH. Actually think this might be a good subject to start a forum on??? And to those at TR that monitor this, you have a GREAT "enterprise" going, keep up the good work Sam

roleat
roleat

Is on my personal top 10.

codesNstuff
codesNstuff

I can't beleive I didn't think of Jules Vern, He's an awsome writer and many of his science fiction ideas have come to light as being very true. Thanks!

john.a.wills
john.a.wills

It may have been in the movie (I do not remember) but it was chemical power in the book (I can't give you chapter and verse because I have no copy here and haven't read it for decades). But you are right: it was definitely a prophetic novel.

mailboweb
mailboweb

..a bit of an exaggeration. Humans are large enough to kill an sperm whale. Maybe they where from Atlantis..

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

They are programmed with learning like behaviour. In order to program something you have to understand it, and we don't understand intelligence or learning, or memory, so they mimic behaviors. You'll know when they get intelligent, when you see them all voting outside to go on strike..... The matrix was stupid in tech terms, a human uses far more energy than it could possibly generate. We aren't even close to efficient.

mault
mault

Don't forget -disks for data storage -space shuttle - reusable ship from space to planet. - and possibly the flat pannel big screen TV

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...but I'll be d@mned if this isn't right on the money. Add in the wussification of the citizenry, the non-lethal weaponry and the move from oil-based vehicles, and this movie is just about hitting 1.000. That is truly frightening!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

science fiction film ever made. Nothing fantastic, logical progression of ideas and massive injections of all too credible reality. Especially the politicians destroying the domes because the reminder of their total and complete failure was too much to bear. Can't call it prophetic yet, as far as I can make out we aren't going to bother putting anything into space before we destroy it.

Mabrick
Mabrick

(NT) means "no text"

Jaqui
Jaqui

the book description could be currently called a Hydrogen Fuel Cell, where electrons are ripped from hydrogen atoms and used for power, then returned and combined with oxygen to result in water. It is classified as a chemical reaction because of the membrane used to strip the electrons, but really, you are playing at the atomic / sub atomic level. :)

Jaqui
Jaqui

they found a couple of "teeth" from the squid's suckers in a dead sperm whale. The whale had beached itself. then they found a squid in a block of ice just off Antarctica that was about 75% of the size calculated for the one they found the tooth in the whale's skin. Then some fishermen caught one in their nets that was the same size. Autopsies of the two squid carcases show they were adults, and fully grown. This leads them to believe there is at least one more species of squid that would grow to be the size calculated from that tooth they found.

codesNstuff
codesNstuff

Don't take it so personally, I know they have to be programmed to act like they are learning. The Matrix is just a great what if movie. So it's ok.

lucien86
lucien86

Hhhmm.. on AI I agree and disagree - but then I would I've been working on Strong AI for 15 years. Some of us do actually have a pretty good idea how most human thought processes work. - Its all a sea of argument but the answers are out there. (and once you know them it becomes commercially essential to hide them) The only way to prove any of the models works is to build a working AI based on it - and the first to do that will make a LOT OF MONEY. As for the Matrix it is a ridiculous idea and is basically very similar to part of Hyperion. The hegemony AI's are stealing human 'processing cycles' from people while they teleport from place to place, etc etc. If you want realistic prophetic sci-fi on AI there are are a few of the best - 1. ST:TNG The Enterprise computer 2. ST:TNG Data 3. Iron Man, Tony Starks home system 4. The little robot from Oedo Cyber City 5. Short Circuit One (especially on the design of Johnny Five) 6. Demon Seed (apart from floating pyramids) 7. 2001 Hal (remember Hal is only trying to obey orders) 8. R2D2 & C3P0 - inspired many into robotics and AI. (only look at first three films) (Fav AI - Zen and Orac from Blake's Seven) Nightmares - 1. The robot armies from the phantom Menace etc. (imagine fighting a war against an unending stream of millions of robot soldiers) 2. The Terminator (a sentient AI created by accident - with nuclear weapons and robot factories. Note to self remember not to fit AI system with nuclear weapons) 3. AI (robot slavery creates a vile soulless merciless fascistic society, etc)

mailboweb
mailboweb

..like most people know why the are striking.. Considering we are made of "atoms" that is an silly statement. I thinks the whole virtual concept of the matrix is an pretty realistic prophesy. Most of use live detached from society, at least in an spiritual manner. And who is to say what is real anyway. We are still intrigued by someone wearing an mask and the we look down at African trible people.. I think the matrix( 1st movie) could be looked at as an prophetic movie maybe not by intend but as effect. Because the emptiness really exists, and to make real contact you need to leave the physical world.. Technology is of no importance but it is all there. Space travel technology, advanced intelligent life, clashes between worlds, spiritual awareness, pattern recognition, physic power, quantum based theories, ect...

JasonJD48
JasonJD48

I'd say Tablet PCs, such as the tablet things used frequently in TNG. Video phones and/or web video conferencing

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

Who cares about the people! protect the forests and the robots. For the the love of god! THE ROBOTS!!!!!!!!

destimator
destimator

The Japanese scientist who trawled a camera and has video of these levithons...

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

great, not for me. Not great sci-fi at all in my book, but most great sci-fi is in books and will probably stay there, Hollywood just doesn't have the balls.

lucien86
lucien86

Ah what you are talking about is the poor pitiful thing that is 'standard' AI today. What I am working on is algorithmic or 'Strong' AI - or some call it 'artificial consciousness' or 'machine intelligence'. - A Strong AI can fly a jet unaided, drive a car, you can give it instructions in English and it will understand them. It can analyze and solve problems on its own and is usually designed to run autonomously from human control. Strong AI doesn't work yet but its only a matter of time, and there is a growing and accelerating worldwide research effort pushing towards it. Timespan 5 to 10 years. - And its exactly the same as the SF AI.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

for emancipation? Got together and formed a union? All depends on how you define artificial intelligence of course... The sci-fi definition and the scientific one aren't the same

older ****
older ****

"Down-counting [or "up"--depending on your frame of reference..."], and pictures on keys of fast food registers, and hot [additional], keys on "expanded" keyboards...right on the money--may made Idiocracy get my final vote...read about it, now I have to see it...

tsschall
tsschall

truly hot looking women in skin tight leather both with and without tattoos! Come on folks, arguing that it;s going to happen / is already happening doesn't have to mean in entirety, but those looking at the dominance of machines in our life have a strong point, and does anyone see our society/world growing less dependent on them? Heck when's the last time a clerk made change by counting instead of looking at the register to see what the amount should be? How many of those kids running registers at MC Donalds or the IGA do you think know how to do so? The newest safety device on many cars is a rear view video camera. It's easier than turning your head I guess, and worth the resulting loss of 3D vision and depth of field needed to judge distance, I guess. The message of The Matrix may well be that we are enslaving ourselves to our technology in that we are forgetting/have forgotten how to survive and perform even the simplest of functions without technology. If you don't believe it, let your teenager try to drive a manual transmission; ask your seven year old to address and envelope and send a letter to grandma; put a dial telephone in front of the 14 year old and ask her to call someone; etc.

codesNstuff
codesNstuff

Right on, I completely agree, I write poetry a lot and you can turn something real into a poem that doesn't sound anything like the event. People must read between the lines, Thanks!