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10 Hollywood Lessons on Evil Tech

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FRANCIS POPE
AP File

Movies have always cast predictions about the future of science and technology. Sometimes they conclude that the future's bright. Exciting. But most of the time? It's bleak. There's death. Destruction. Misguided Will Smith adaptations of classic novels. The conclusion we can draw from Hollywood about futuristic tech is that it's dark, dangerous and not to be trusted. Or used. Basically, we should stop inventing things right now, else this will happen...

[Warning: Some minor spoilers ahead]

1. Artificial Intelligence will lead to robotic overlords

Right now we're in charge, but one day technology will be our downfall. Yep, once we create sentient machines, you can kiss your place at the top of the foodchain goodbye. The Terminator franchise taught us that when robots become self-aware they'll have one hobby: wiping us out. If we're not a threat to machines, I, Robot predicted that they'll take over to stop us being a danger to ourselves. And Westworld showed us that even if machines don't go self-aware, they'll malfunction and still end up killing us. Looks like whatever happens, we're screwed.

2. Virtual reality will be used to enslave us

Holography could be a great way to learn, or blow off steam. But let's face it, ultimately it'll just be used to trick us into believing in a fantasy world created by dastardly enslavers. The Matrix taught us that virtual reality will be harnessed to use us as battery juice for the new mechanical super-race. Even humans will use VR to deceive and manipulate the rest of us, as evidenced in films like Vanilla Sky and Total Recall. The scariest part? We could all be in a Holodeck right now. With the safety protocols turned off.

3. Cryonics will awaken us to a world of pain

Why does no one ever wake up from deep freeze to a world of sunshine and rainbows in films? If you go into 'cryo' in a movie, you should probably turn off the alarm; you'll be waking up to a world of hurt. Ripley found that out the hard way in Aliens. Dave from 2001: A Space Odyssey probably wished he stayed in bed, too. Back on Earth, Demolition Man and Austin Powers taught us that cryo leaves you feeling like a dinosaur, and that the only person you'll recognise is a grumpy Sylvester Stallone.

4. Teleportation will produce monsters

In theory, teleporting seems like it would be super awesome. It could end the hassle of commuting. It would eradicate long-haul flights. You'd never be late for anything, ever again. But that's just not how it'll turn out. David Cronenberg taught us that when he let Jeff Goldblum climb into a telepod with a fly. It gets kind of disgusting. Star Trek has shown us several times that teleporting can be deadly, but even if we're not beamed to death we could be shrunk to a fraction of our size - as Mike TV from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory can confirm. Which is all very sad. I never saw Jumper, but that looked tragic as well.

5. Time travel will cause brain-scrambling

Yeah, everyone loves Back to the Future, but the truth is time travel will involve more trauma and less rocking out to Huey Lewis. Bruce Willis showed us in Twelve Monkeys that surfing the fourth dimension is bad for your mental health. Looper taught us that if time travel ever gets invented it'll be way too easy for mega crims to murder anyone they want. And on a more domestic level, The Time Traveler's Wife made it clear that transcending time makes it really tough to be a decent dad.

6. DNA manipulation will lead to supervillains

Hollywood is very clear that if we mess with our biological operating systems, respectable actors will transform into cartoon antagonists. Poor Rhys Ifans just wanted to re-grow his missing arm in The Amazing Spider-Man; he ended up going full lizard and 'evolving' into a generic maniacal villain. And he's not alone. In Iron Man 3, Guy Pearce developed Extremis and started smouldering more than Ryan Gosling. On a more cerebral level, Gattaca showed us that genetic tampering will divide and totally destabilise society.

7. The Internet will be hijacked by malicious ghosts

The living aren't the only ones who'll take advantage of emerging technology with dark intentions. Pulse showed us that it's only a matter of time before the dead get online and start spreading the kind of virus that makes Stuxnet look like the common cold. Of course, social networks weren't as big when Pulse came out, so if ghosts and spirits get killer broadband these days maybe they'll avoid downloading our souls and simply set up some kind of harmless after-life Facebook?

8. Video and TV will spread evil spirits virally

The web isn't the only way the dead will get us. The Ring and Poltergeist have both taught us that ghosts will use any form of technology to exact their bitter vengeance upon the living. You could argue that now video tapes are history, we've survived this particular tech disaster. But while technology changes, the dead's intentions stay the same. Someone's probably working on a horror movie about DVD subscription services right now. Death will find a way. Possibly on Blu-ray.

9. Cloning will lead to really scary theme parks

Welcome to Extinctionville, population: us. Jurassic Park clearly showed that if we start using the power of cloning to bring creatures back from the dead, it's bound to end in tears. Okay, so Jurassic Park was 65 million years in the making, which means scientifically it couldn't actually happen because we can't clone anything from genetic material that's more than three million years old. But that's still three million years of terrifying monsters that could be brought back to life! And a long time ago, in a mythology far, far away Star Wars taught us that creating clone armies will lead to intergalactic civil war. Which obviously isn't ideal.

10. Space travel will lead us to our doom

We've always dreamt of journeying to the stars, and the tech needed to get there is considerable. But Hollywood has repeatedly shown us that space voyaging just isn't worth it. Where do you want to start? The crew from Event Horizon didn't exactly have a fun excursion, nor did Sunshine's crew aboard the Icarus spaceships. And if we're not battling psychopaths or Hell itself, Messrs Scott, Cameron and Fincher showed us what happens when we encounter aliens. Game over, man. Game over.

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