Hard Science Fiction Films that Predict the Future
Dr. Andrew Maynard, physicist and leading expert on socially responsible development of emerging and converging technologies, brings science fiction movies to life.
Films from the Future analyzes what society once thought was impossible, threading together advances in science and technology that are radically changing our world and have the potential to impact our lives in unknown and unpredictable ways.
Over the last half-century, humanity has seen technology grow at an alarming pace.
The jump from room-filling processors to pocket-size super computers is just the beginning. Artificial intelligence, gene manipulation, cloning, and inter-planet travel are all ideas that seemed like fairy tales but a few years ago. And now their possibility is very much here. But are we ready to handle these advances? As Maynard explains, “What these movies do rather well is provide us with a glimpse around the corner of our collective near future, to help us see what might be coming down the pike and start thinking how we might respond to it. Viewed in the right way―and with a good dose of critical thinking―science fiction movies can help us think about and prepare for the social consequences of technologies we don’t yet have, but that are coming faster than we imagine.”
Films from the Future looks at twelve movies that take readers on a journey through the worlds of biological and genetic manipulation, human enhancement, cyber technologies, and nanotechnology. Readers will gain a broader understanding of the complex relationship between science and society. The movies mix old and new, and the familiar and unfamiliar, to provide a unique, entertaining, and ultimately transformative take on the power of emerging technologies, and the responsibilities they come with.
Films from the Future is an essential guide to navigating a future dominated by complex and powerful new technologies.
FROM THE BACK COVER
The Movies That Shape Our Future…
Physicist Andrew Maynard threads together his love of science fiction movies with his expertise on emerging technologies to engage, entertain, and make you think about the relationship between technology and society as humanity continues to push the boundaries on advances in science. Through the imagination and creativity of science fiction movies, Maynard introduces readers to the profound capabilities presented by new and emerging technologies, and the complex personal and societal challenges they present. Each movie in Films from the Future provides the starting point for exploring potentially life-changing technologies and trends, from genetic engineering (Jurassic Park) and brain-enhancing drugs (Limitless), to human augmentation (Ghost in the Shell), and artificial intelligence (Ex Machina). These are woven together with emerging ideas on technological convergence and responsible and ethical innovation to provide a sweeping perspective on where our technologies are taking us, and how we ensure this is where we want to go. With each examination, you will take a progressive journey through the fascinating worlds of biological and genetic manipulation, human enhancement and cyber technologies, and nanotechnology. Maynard shows that the fantastical worlds of the movies might not be as impossible as we think. With a focus on hard science, economics, the social implications of technological feats, and the movies that could very well become our real-life future, Films from the Future will be sure to educate and entertain!
“Art imitates life, but life also imitates art. Some technologies that existed only in science fiction are now becoming real. So, it makes sense that those movies can also help anticipate ethical and social problems arising from new technologies. This book walks us through some of the most iconic films―pointing out things, with an expert eye, that most of us had missed the first time around. It makes me want to watch those movies again.”
―Patrick Lin, director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly; co-editor of the book Robot Ethics 2.0: From Autonomous Cars to Artificial Intelligence
“Thoughtfully composed and delightful to read, Films from the Future ushers us on a whirlwind tour through decades of science fiction, shedding light on some of the most extraordinary achievements of our time. Maynard explores the incredible possibilities and dire consequences of boundless human innovation, imagination and ambition…and may just change the way you go to the movies.”
―Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing and Executive Director of Science Debate
“We humans have a profound ability to imagine the world we want to live in, and the ones we don’t. And though we share these visions in movies, the strange truth is that we continually fail to build that wonderful world we can imagine. What is that chasm between imagining and creating? Andrew Maynard challenges us to walk that brave path through that thus-far uncharted countryside, and build that positive future.”
―Lindy Elkins-Tanton, leader of the NASA “Psyche Mission: A Journey to a Metal World”
“With the insightful use of science fiction movies, Andrew Maynard raises some deep philosophical issues about who we are and want to be as human beings while graphically illustrating what could go badly wrong, and he raises the difficult question “Is there research that shouldn’t be done and are there technologies that shouldn’t be developed?” We may not all agree with his take on these questions but raising them is a worthy endeavor. This book is one way to spread the word and get the conversation started. It should be widely read by scientists, engineers, physicians, business and political leaders and other professionals, indeed everyone who cares about the future of humanity.” – Neal Lane, former science advisor to President Bill Clinton.
“As the breakneck advance of technology takes us into a world that is both exciting and menacing, sci-fi films give us an inkling of what is to come, and what we should avoid. Andrew Maynard explores our near-term future through the crystal ball of cinema sci-fi, and deftly shows how a seemingly frivolous film genre can guide us in shaping tomorrow’s world.”
―Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, and host of Big Picture Science
“If you like science fiction, you are already studying risk: that’s the alluring premise of this highly readable book. It’s bound to get film buffs pondering philosophical quandaries posed by movies that have real analogues with the highest of moral stakes in the world today.”
―Nathaniel Johnson, senior writer at Grist
“Andrew has captured the foresight of science fiction filmmaking with Films from the Future. Using clear examples of current emerging technologies to show just how accurate many of the future scenarios were in these films Andrew is able to prove just how close we are to the future we see in many of these films. Sci-fi is a mirror into the heart of our species. It is also often a self-fulfilling prophecy. Films from the Future is a perfect mix of these two ideas. It is both techno-philosophical and at the same time grounded in tangible research and foresight.”
―Gray Scott, futurist and author of The Automated, Digitized, and Simulated Future
“Maynard will have you questioning the most rational assumptions, not just those featured in movies. While the future cannot be predicted from ‘exponential trends of the past,’ this book shines with hallmark traits of a bestseller.”
―Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter
“This marvelous book is among the most engaging and insightful that I’ve read in many years. It’s the sort of book that you keep reading because of the inherently fascinating topics that it covers―from resurrecting dinosaurs to enhancing human cognition, from mind-uploading to contacting extraterrestrial intelligences―and then before you know it, you’ve learned something crucial about emerging technologies, ethics, and the future of humanity in this infinitely strange place we call ‘the universe.’ Perhaps the single most important feature of the book is its use of fiction and storytelling to bridge the chasm between different political and religious views that often make public discussions about the ethics of technology impossible. Thus, Maynard explores―with skillful eloquence―human ingenuity through human imagination, scientific discovery through artistic expression, and our rapidly changing present through the anticipated futures of sci-fi narratives. It is for this reason especially that I hope this book will be widely read by conservatives, liberals, Christians, Muslims, and atheists alike.”
―Phil Torres, author of Morality, Foresight, and Human Flourishing: An Introduction to Existential Risks
“What an unexpected and compelling combination of art and science. Using creativity, from the minds of filmmakers, to examine the potential pitfalls of technology, to show humanity a better path – pure genius!” – Danielle Feinberg, Director of Photography at Pixar