6. I, Robot (2004)
Two days ago in New York City, a robot passed a self awareness test. No: this is not the tag line for the next science-fiction thriller. This is something that actually happened. The reality of robotics is that it is something that is been around for a very long time. What many of us sometimes don’t realize is that robots surround us every single day. Your printer technically is a robot. Anybody who works in manufacturing will spend their entire day surrounded by pieces of robotic equipment. Your phone can now send an email for you or remind you to buy a birthday cake for your son. Like it or not, robots have become an essential part of our day to day life.
The film I, Robot is set in 2035 where human-esque robots serve humanity. Most characters have a Robot who will act as their maid or servant and make their coffee, clean their house and accompany them on errands.
In the film, these robots go rogue and start to destroy humanity as they rise to take control of the planet. While robots killing humans in a plot to take over might be a little far fetched, humanoid robots to aid us in our day to day life are a very real prediction. You can see humanoid robots at most robotics fairs, and it has been suggested that advanced robotics can actually help humans to further evolve as a species (see films like Terminator or X-Men).
While a robot that achieves a human level of consciousness (as seen in I, Robot) is likely a very long way off, progress is certainly being made.
7. Elysium (2013)
It is the year 2159. Humanity has been divided into two distinct classes. The rich live on Elysium, a luxurious space station that orbits the earth and has gardens, clean water & all the riches of our modern life. The middle and lower class remain on what is left of planet Earth: a decaying, hardened, crime ridden existence.
The probability of the context of Elysium becoming a reality is highly debatable. Most argue that Elysium is entirely metaphorical and a commentary on the socio-economic realities of the 21st century. While this can be true, we have to wonder how much of this film could become a scientific reality.
The use of exoskeletons is something that is currently under development. Many militaries all over the world are considering the use of mechanical suits or exoskeletons to maximize the damage potential of their troops. Other uses could be to help those who have suffered injury to their limbs, or have become victims of old age. In any case, the use of ex skeletons (though they may end up looking a lot sleeker than the one Matt Damon sports in Elysium) could be very real within the next ten years.
Further to this, scientists predict that a floating world such as Elysium may actually be possible too. There will be obvious problems that stand in our way (like, how do we create gravity?! And what would happen with the weather?!) however questions like this are only driving us forward. While it may be a few hundred years before anything even remotely looking like an Elysium becomes real, it is certainly on the trajectory and should not be dismissed as impossible.
8. Europa Report (2013)
Sebastián Cordero’s 2013 Sci-Fi thriller Europa Report is a dramatization of something extremely real: a manned mission to Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Europa has been gaining a lot of attention lately and is one of the only surfaces that is deemed a possible suitor for human colonization. The colonization of Europa would not be without it’s challenges, but it is one of the smoothest observable surfaces in the galaxy and has water, so it’s not a bad start!
Of course, colonization is a long way off. We haven’t even been to Europa yet so there is a multitude of dangerous elements that could be found there. However, Europa Report definitely got this right: we are going to send people there to look for sources of life. Scientists will analyze the chances of life existing on Europa already, and the potential for humans to survive on the distant moon. An unmanned probe will likely be visiting Europa within ten years and scientists are keen to have humans follow suit. Not only does Europa hold the biggest chance for extra terrestrial life, but will also give us valuable insight into what lies beyond our galaxy.
9. Her (2013)
Spike Jonez’s 2013 romantic comedy, ‘Her’ may not be classified as a full on science fiction, but it certainly deals with technology that requires a little bit of imagination. The film follows a protagonist named Theodore who falls in love with his extremely self aware intelligent computer operating system. This is, of course, devastating as he cannot hope to have a legitimate romantic relationship with her, can he?
For many this film reminds us of ‘Siri’, Apple’s digital assistant, but it takes it a step further. Most scientists agree, however, that this tech is not far off. Particularly with advancements in the way that our technology can monitor our lives (think of the way Apple watch can keep track of everything health wise) and the progress made in virtual reality, it could only be a few years before intelligent OS’ become reality. That is not to say that this tech is going to become so self aware that it will evolve beyond us, but it will undoubtedly become an integral part of our daily lives and much sooner than we anticipate.
10. Interstellar (2014)
Earth is not going to live forever. Some believe that there will be another ‘big bang’. Some think an ice age is coming (or could be brought on by volcanic activity). Some people argue that climate change is going to destroy our planet and cause a mass extinction, not just of life but of our food and water.
Christopher Nolan’s 2014 blockbuster Interstellar takes a dying earth and asks us a question: would we wait to die, or would we try to find somewhere else to go? The ‘fact’ or ‘reality’ of this concept depends heavily on how the Earth will die. If the Earth deteriorates in a slow and visible enough way then we may have time to think about colonizing another planet. If this is the case then Interstellar could serve as a startling glimpse into the future. In fact, many scientists are arguing that more time and money needs to be spent on finding alternate planets for human life and many believe that Nolan was trying to drive this idea home.
Additionally, Nolan draws on some pretty crazy science throughout most of the film. Worm holes are now a universally accepted part of our universe and it is not entirely impossible that one could open some sort of portal to travel from one side of the universe to the other. Additionally, Nolan uses (but does take a few liberties with) worm holes to pose interesting questions about the nature of time. Many scientists agree that gravity can completely alter what we understand to be the way time moves, and it can be argued as science fact that the way characters in Interstellar age is a direct result of their proximity to alternate gravitational forces.
This is in no way a definitive list of the films that blur the line between science fact and science fiction. Of course, many of our favourite sci-fi flicks are based on some sort of reality. However fun it is to rely solely on our imagination, it is both exciting and frightening to try to grasp the reality of what we are watching.
Author Bio: Rachel Helena is an aspiring screenwriter, and loves talking about anything to do with film. She runs a review blog at thereeljunkie.com and vlogs as The Reel Junkie on YouTube. Outside of film, Rachel enjoys craft beer, travelling, and food.