Technology got us to where we are today and movies are a technology that not only pushes against the limits of technology itself, but continues to inform us about the technology we dream of and the techonology we fear.
Since the beginning of cinema, movies have shown us depictions of technology. From the classic Metropolis, to Sleeper, to Blade Runner, the technology depicted inspires as much fear as it does awe. Here’s our list of 5 Tech For Good movies we think are worth watching:
One of the highlights of Spielberg’s career, Minority Report follows Tom Cruise as he gets into all sorts of trouble in the PreCrime Division of Washington, D.C. of 2054. If you’re not engrossed by the neo-noir storyline and the philosophical issues, there are autonomous cars, insect robots, multi-touch interfaces, and retina scanners to keep you entertained. This all might seem a bit dated since all this technology exists now (except the insect robots), but remember this was 2002. Marvel at how much they got right. And keep an eye out for the crown jewel of all technological achievements: jetpacks.
Sometimes, dangerous military technology just needs to be struck by lightning. This is the plot of Short Circuit, an 80’s classic with none other than Ally Sheedy, Steve Guttenberg, and Number 5! The robot becomes sentient, learns about the world, and tries to prevent his deactivation by his creators. With the topic of killer robots occupying the headlines of today, take some time to watch a movie where you will see how non-killer robots are just way more fun.
2001: A Space Odyssey
If you haven’t seen it already, you’re just in time for the 50th anniversary of this Stanley Kubrick’s classic. A pinnacle of sci-fi cinema and easily the most influential and referenced, it not only set the bar of what film could achieve at that time, but it also showed us what technology has brought us, what it means to us, and most importantly, its limitations: “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
A touching love story from the great Spike Jonze starring a wonderfully forlorn Joaquin Phoenix about what happens when we give life to technology. Theodore Twombly is a lonely and depressed man who enters into a relationship with an OS (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) who can adapt and learn. If you want to be reductive, it’s a movie about a relationship with a computer. But, if you give it a chance, it’s so much more than that. We always have this idea that technology is inhuman but if it’s created by us, how could it be anything but human?
A movie that needs no introduction now that we’re almost five movies in. But this is the original and yet another Spielberg classic. Try not to focus on what happens when the dinosaurs break out and start killing people. Focus on the fact that there are dinosaurs again! How cool would that be? It made me believe, and it still does.