How will technology shape the future we live in? Unlike environmental anomalies or presidential elections, the technology we have in 1, 5, or 10 years from now will build off what exists today. In this sense, one may assume that predicting the future of technology and its influence on society has a predictive and linear nature. From hindsight, one knows that this is not the case.
Most people would look to the past trend of technology and create a linear project to the future. In some cases, this works. For example, Moore’s law accurately predicted, for the past 40+ years that the number of transistors for a fixed area would double every two years. In other cases, these predictions have failed miserably. For example, when commercial airlines became mainstream in the 20th century, people predicted faster and faster travel times. As a result, projects like the Concord came into fruition. However, it never became integrated into society. This was the result of a motley of problems from exorbitant fuel costs, noise pollution, and a misunderstanding of the consumer’s desires: cheap flights. As a result, responding to consumer’s needs, aviation technological innovation shifted from speed to efficiency.
Since taking a linear approach is not always accurate, emphasizing the consumer’s expected desires rather than past trends can provide a more accurate method in predicting technology's future impact on society. How can one possibly devise a system to predict this? Turns out, there is already a multi-billion dollar industry that tries to depict people’s expectation for the future of technology: sci-fi movies. The classic example is Back to the Future II. Wireless video games, handheld tablets, video conferencing, and the whole genre of wearable tech can all be traced back to this film. Even though the hoverboards or flying cars are not around today (at least not yet), this film provides a surprisingly accurate system in predicting the future of technology. Lastly, unlike a linear approach, sci-fi movies delve into completely novel fields of technological applications and challenges human desires.