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Movies that mispredicted future technology
The Oscars are this weekend, and we thought it was a good chance to talk about how technology is presented in the movies. The industry often gets it wrong, when depicting the future or even the present era of technology. Sarah Wanenchak* has a great post at the blog cyborgology about why tech on film can be a tricky. Here are some other examples of movies that didn't effectively predict the future of tech.
Gattaca supposedly takes place in 2020 or thereabouts. Moral challenges regarding genetics? Almost definitely. But this level of genetics-based societal strata seems unlikely. Great outtake nonetheless:
"2001: Space Oddysey." Artificially intelligent computers by 2001? Almost but no cigar. HAL might be close, but even just the computer parts alone in this movie are way too big.
"Bladerunner"? Straight classic of course. Also hard to decide if "android" in this movie predicted or inspired the name of Google's operating system. But either way...2019 seems much too early for this robot clown fight:
Last from our short list: "Terminator 2." Again, the 1994/1995 landscape seems prescient. After all, Google Glass seemed based on this kind of heads up display with technology scrolling across your eyes. But considering we're still waiting for wearable tech to be cool, it's pretty obvious that this fight scene couldn't yet happen.
What movies can you think of that grossly overestimate the tech of the present or "future," now passed?
Free vintage video games from the Internet Archive
Here's some news that will probably make your week less productive. The Internet Archive recently posted a huge trove of vintage console video games from the 70s and 80s. I'm talking atari twenty six hundred. I'm talkin Coleecovision. And yes, The Astrocade. You can play in a browser or download the simple sofware. If you need me I'll be working my way through California Games.
A wedding cake that plays video games
Weddings can be a racket, but you might spring for this. If you're not scared of being left at the altar. A company called Posh Entertainment offers a cake that plays projected video games, right on the frosting. Donkey Kong. Pac Man. Super Mario Bros. Beats the heck out of the little dolls, right?
A new flying machine, inspired by a simple swimmer
Whenever I'm flying in my dreams, I'm always doing the breaststroke. I guess because I know what it's like to swim, my brain substitutes that in for whenever I have to imagine myself flying. So it makes perfect sense that mathematician Leif Ristroph came up with a new species of flying machine this week that looks like a jellyfish. Wobbly, sure, and perhaps not the most intimidating drone. But you've got to love the simplicity of this tiny flying machine. Ristroph says you could build whole fleets of them and have them float around cities collecting data--maybe measuring things like air quality, for instance. As far as I'm concerned they don't have to collect anything. They can just float around and be awesome.
Send us your tech questions for our new segment: TechSplainer
We're going to start a new segment on our show this week. We're calling it TechSplainer. Complicated or simple, we plan to answer your questions about software, hardware, and everything in between, in plain English.
You can send us ideas on Facebook or Twitter. Unless of course your question is: "What is Twitter?" Seriously though, we want to hear from you no matter what your technology questions are. And we hope to do you the service of answering them with the help of some of the smart folks we talk to every week. Another great place to send us your queries is the Public Insight Network. Or, post your burning questions below in the comments. Hope to hear from you!
This inForm 'dynamic shape display' table is incredible
I am starting my Christmas list today. At the top: the inForm morphing table from MIT's Media Lab. It uses a huge grid of tiny square pins in real time that replicate the movements of your own hands or other items picked up by a Kinect motion detector. And it looks incredibly fun to play with. (h/t Gizmodo)
These algorithm videos on YouTube are mesmerizing
Apparently there's a whole genre of YouTube videos that not only assign visuals but also audio to computer algorithms that sort information. Yours truly is not an expert, but I think my favorite sounds from this video come via the radix or LSD sort algorithm. There's an interesting explanation of the videos here. But even if you don't understand it, it's fun to watch and listen to:
Drones. They shoot missiles at military targets, they deliver pizza, and now they promise to scare the heck out of little kids. A guy on YouTube outfitted his quadrocopter with tattered white linnens, and glowing eyes. It's a treat, especially if you need a deterrent for the tricks. H/T Motherboard.
This Samsung smart watch ad blows Apple out of the water
There was a long period where Apple's ads seemed like pure genius. So clean, so simple and attractive -- really the best possible imagination of what branding could be for a tech company. One might even argue that more than the company's products, Apple's marketing really put the company where it is today. But this Samsung ad for the Galaxy Gear smart watch blows current Apple marketing out of the water:
As a 33-year-old, this thing hits all the right cultural spots. Predator, Dick Tracy, Inspector Gadget, Knight Rider...and of course the soundtrack is LCD Soundsystem. But hey, if you're more into Fred Flinstone, the Jetsons, and Flash Gordon, it will work for you too. As listeners will know, I've been a skeptic of any smart watch that doesn't truly function like a Dick Tracy watch. And I don't think the smart watch thing really works until we're all wearing semi-permanent wireless ear buds. But in terms of pure marketing, I think this is really well done. What do you think?