For a Ryan Reynolds comedy-sci-fi set between 2022 and 2052, realism wouldn’t exactly be the first thing that comes to mind.
But Netflix’s new film The Adam Project actually gets some things pretty spot on about what life might look like in the next 30 years, according to an expert futurist.
The new flick follows Adam (Ryan) as he travels back in time and meets his past self (Walker Scobell) and his late father (Mark Ruffalo) in a bid to come to terms with his past.
There are fighter jets, there are wormholes, there’s VR robots and of course, there’s time travel.
We caught up with Dr Ian Pearson, an expert futurist with a background in missile design and cybernetics, to find out how much of it could actually happen – brace yourselves!
What’s plausible from the film?
The world of sci-fi, from The Avengers to The Adam Project, has largely decided that making fighter jets invisible will be a staple of the future.
Dr Pearson explained that this is incredibly plausible and actually, we’re almost there.
‘They have an invisibility masking effect on the jet, we already have that today in the labs and, to a point, you can disguise certain things with invisibility shields,’ he said.
‘So we have some of that technology and it’s feasible that it might be available in 2052 for large scale things like fighter jets.
‘So some of it is quite realistic.’
‘Some bits, you wouldn’t expect to [happen by] 2052, which probably are feasible,’ Dr Pearson explained. ‘Things like the lightsaber that characters use.
‘I actually wrote a blog on how to make a lightsaber a few years ago and it is entirely feasible. You could do it, and you could certainly do it in the 2052 time frame.
‘It wouldn’t look quite the same – but then the film’s got artistic license!’
‘The other thing that’s entirely feasible is the hover boards, so we see people floating around those,’ Dr Pearson continued.
‘Hover boards actually already exist – some require a metal surface underneath, some use big air jets, some use other effects…those are quite feasible.
‘Whether you could do them in 2052, probably you could if you tried hard and had enough money.’
Time travel – kind of
While some elements of the film are already almost in reach, it’s safe to say time travel is not one of them – at least not in the way we’d all expect.
‘Things like the wormholes and time travel – we haven’t got any idea how to do that! We know you can do time travel in cyberspace but that’s not quite the same thing – that’s just checking previous records, Dr Pearson explained.
‘From about 2050, when you’ve got a full link between computers to your brain, you’ll be able to record your thoughts and keep them.
‘In 2100, you’ll be able to come back to 2050 and talk to your earlier self. That’s not real time travel, that’s just using databases.
‘Time travel in the real world – we haven’t got any idea how to do it. But time travel in cyberspace, from about 2050 onwards, you can do it as far back as about 2050 but there’s no way you’d be able to come back to 2022.’
What are the most realistic sci-fi TV and films?
The Adam Project is just the latest in a long legacy of sci-fi which imagines what life might be like years into the future.
While realism definitely isn’t the defining feature for most TV and film, there are some that have done pretty well according to Dr Pearson.
‘The Schwarzenegger [Terminator] series that came out in the 80s and 90s were very, very accurate in terms of what we expected technology to be,’ he recalled.
‘I was working in cybernetics back then and when we watched Terminator, we were like, this is pretty much exactly the technology we would expect to have in the future – and this is the kind of problem we’re worried about happening, if our network was to somehow go conscious and rebel against us.
‘That plus Total Recall. That’s pretty much exactly what we were thinking at the front edge of IT research at the time. There are some science fiction films that have been very accurate in terms of the sort of technologies that we would expect.’