Total Nerd

The Dumbest Technology In Science Fiction 

Maggie Clancy
Updated December 6, 2019 6.8k votes 1.6k voters 123.1k views 14 items

List Rules Vote up the seemingly cool sci-fi tech that would actually be terrible to use in real life.

Flying cars. Battling robots. Holograms and virtual reality. These are all devices that might have started out as pieces of sci-fi technology, but over time, these seemingly wacky ideas have turned into reality.

There's some sci-fi tech from movies and TV we wish were real, but there are other sci-fi inventions that are best left to the screen. Sure, some of these sci-fi technology ideas sound good in theory - who wouldn't want a self-drying coat like in Back to the Future Part II or extra storage in their brain like in Johnny Mnemonic? But if you really think about these sci-fi gadgets, they are impractical, dangerous, or plain unnecessary. 

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Quantum Leap is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Dumbest Technology In Science Fiction
Photo:  NBC

Intended Use: The Handlink allows the user to open and close the Imaging Chamber. Here, the Observer can watch the Leaper and their surroundings - and vice versa. 

Actual Use: The remote, which inexplicably looks like it's made of Legos, always needs a good thwack before it works. Shouldn't such sophisticated technology be more reliable than a Nintendo cartridge? 

Better Technology: We might not be able to see other people's surroundings at different points in time like in Quantum Leap, but we do have discreet camera and tracking systems. Any operative trying to tape undetected can even buy spy-grade camera equipment off Amazon.

Is this some dumb tech?
Johnny Mnemonic is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Dumbest Technology In Science Fiction
Photo:  TriStar Pictures

Intended Use: It's the year 2021, and Johnny Mnemonic (Keanu Reeves) is a freelance data courier who holds sensitive information in his brain's cyberkinetic implant. 

Actual Use: In order to store data in his brain, Johnny has to dump all his childhood memories to clear out enough space. So how much data can he store? A whopping 80 gigabytes, or about as much memory as a modern-day smartphone. Now Johnny does end up pushing that to 320 GB - which is about as much RAM as can be found in an upgraded Playstation 3. However, the movie claims this much data can destroy a courier's mind.

Better Technology: Elon Musk has been developing his Neuralink for quite some time now. Initial plans are to have paralyzed people use the Neuralink to control computers and tablets. And if we discover a way to hack our brains, we may have the capacity to store roughly a petabyte of data. That would be enough data to store the internet in its entirety.

Is this some dumb tech?
Pacific Rim is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Dumbest Technology In Science Fiction
Photo:  Warner Bros.

Intended Use: Designed to fight the Kaiju that emerge from another dimension, Jaegers require two co-pilots to connect their neural pathways. Together, the pilots must work together to coordinate the movements of these massive machines. 

Actual Use: Three-legged races are annoying for a reason: moving perfectly in sync with someone is a challenge. Now imagine the stakes are not just losing to your co-workers, but letting a giant sea monster destroy an entire city. Even the most well-trained and calm co-pilots might have a split instance where they think differently, which would leave the Jaeger vulnerable to a mighty blow from a Kaiju. 

Better Technology: According to Robin Murphy, a professor of computer science and engineering at Texas A&M University, humans have been making robots more advanced than Jaegers for quite some time. Most are smaller (think Tony Stark's Iron Man suit) and designed to help instead of be used in conflict. For example, Japan is using nurse robots to care for its aging population, and the Massachusetts police department is already making use of a four-legged robot named Spot

Is this some dumb tech?
Minority Report is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Dumbest Technology In Science Fiction
Photo:  20th Century Fox

Intended Use: Steven Spielberg's 2002 film Minority Report had us all excited for floating computer screens that could be effortlessly manipulated with the flick of the wrist. Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise), a member of the PreCrime police force, uses this sleek interface to interpret the data from the Precogs, AKA the psychics who help predict wrongdoings in this dystopian thriller. 

Actual Use: While we can now use gestures to control technology like phones and speech-generating devices, we aren't standing and swiping at air. Imagine holding up your arms for eight hours a day. It doesn't sound hard, but it would take a good amount of muscular endurance just to get through your slew of morning emails. 

Better Current Technology: The small computers we all carry around in our pockets have screens that can be swiped, pinched, and screenshotted. Microsoft's Kinect uses Time-of-Flight (ToF) depth-sensing technology to sense a user's movements to control video games and other devices.

Is this some dumb tech?