Being both a sneaker freak and a BTTF fan, the news that Marty’s McFly’s mythical kicks were finally seeing the light of day made me giddy like a child on Christmas Eve. Sadly, this child-like excitement soon gave way to a very grown-up gloom when I realised Nike were producing just 1,500 pairs to auction off on Ebay (meaning you would need to be wealthier than an African dictator to get your hands on a pair). I did begin to assess my financial options but when selling a kidney on the organ black market looked like the most feasible, I did have to accept that perhaps these shoes were out of my reach.
In a desperate attempt to come to terms with a life without the ultimate throwback kicks, I headed off on journey of introspection, questioning whether I was nothing but a slave to a hollow capitalistic society conditioned to seek validation through the attainment of material possessions. This brief venture into luminous thought was short-lived when I realised there was a far more valid reason for not needing these shoes - the omission of the most important feature - self tying power laces! Without the power laces these felt like a cheap piece of memorabilia, akin to a plasticky battery powered Lightsaber.
Living in the futuristic sounding 2011 it’s easy to feel disgruntled at not getting the future that science fiction promised us. However, if you look at the technology that’s now ubiquitous in modern life, it’s clear the future is very much now. Granted, we’re not teleporting around vast Utopian cities and we’re a long way off creating artificial intelligence but sci-fi has made numerous accurate predictions. MAG sneakers aside, the second Back to the Future movie is a great example: large flat screen TV's delivering multiple streams of content, interacting with computer games without hand held controllers, hover-boards... OK, maybe not hover-boards.
Some will argue the "infinite monkey" theorem that if you make enough predictions you’ll eventually get some right (indeed some sci-fi is so bad it could have been written by a small primate) but you only have to look at the work of seminal science fiction writers such as Arthur C Clark and HG Wells to see numerous examples of eerily accurate prescience. Everything, from automatic doors to tablet computers and online newspapers were envisioned decades before they became a reality.
As well as forecasting the positive effects technology can have on society, Sci-fi is well known for presaging a much bleaker picture. The classic sci-fi cliché is a dystopian society where humans are unable to cope with the technology they’ve created. Populations exist predominantly in the digital realm, cyber-crime is rampant and surveillance states preside over all.
It might be prudent, in the digital age we live in, to take heed of this potential outcome Sci-fi is prophesying. Our reliance on the Internet grows every day; we share increasing amounts of personal information with a few mega-corporates who routinely collect and store this info, archiving it away in huge data centres. At present this may all seem quite benign - most of this information is used for targeted advertising and other annoyances but the implications of a world where every minutia of our lives is monitored, uploaded and archived is quite disturbing.
Personally, I’m optimistic about the future, as long as I get my hover-board and power laces I’m happy.
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