“The Future is Closer Than You Think!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
The two movies of the summer appear to be Barbie and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One. I have yet to see either; I’ll certainly find inspiration for innovation, creativity, and trends in both.
I was interviewed about Mission Impossible for Inverse, which bills itself as “the coolest place to get smarter.” Their ‘masthead’ is music to my ears:
We explore the science of anything, innovations that shape tomorrow, and ideas that stretch our minds. Our goal is to motivate the next generation to build a better world.
Inverse takes a scientific approach to analyzing culture and a cultural approach to talking about science. Since our launch in August 2015, we’ve endeavored to analyze the world thoroughly — if not consistently. Our aim is to better understand tomorrow by examining today.
The article that resulted, How Realistic Are The Mission: Impossible Spy Gadgets? A Real-Life Spycatcher Explains is a fun read, and I am one of two experts quoted (the other being a former FBI counterintelligence and counterterrorism operative, who obviously gets most of the ‘ink.’) The writer previously interviewed me for my take on the Back to the Future series.
Gait analysis, smart contact lenses, exploding gum, gecko-like walking pads – science fiction movies always offer up a wonderful vision (or a terrifying one) of a new, complex future. The challenge today is that today’s science fiction is often tomorrow’s reality sooner than we think. In the case of the Mission Impossible series, it’s safe to say that many of the ideas in the earlier movies in the series, which might have seemed far-fetched at the time, are closer to reality, if not yet already in existence, today.
I had a few observations along the way:
The closest thing to Mission: Impossible masks that reality has to offer is in the emerging field of regenerative medicine.
Carroll tells Inverse soon we’ll see 3D-printed teeth using live tissue. Other examples in recent years include a 3D-printed ear made from a patient’s own cells.
While the IMF can print a mask in a matter of minutes, in reality, it takes months to grow these replacement body parts for disfigured or disabled patients.
Smart contact lens technology? That’s an easy one:
Within a few years after Ghost Protocol’s release, Samsung, Sony, and Google each had a patent for their version of a smart contact lens. We have yet to see these contact lenses on the market, but O’Neill says the military is looking at how this technology may be used, and Carroll says, “I think that’s one that we’ll look back in five years and go, ‘wow this one really happened.’”
There were a few other comments that I made that didn’t make the final article. Exploding gum? I spoke to the writer about my keynote some years ago for the US Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, previously referred to here, commenting that half the room looked like Doc from Back to the Future. If anyone could be inventing exploding gum, it would probably be these folks!
In any event, science fiction is great – but keeping fiction in science is becoming increasingly difficult!