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The Dumbest Technology In Science Fiction

Updated November 12, 2020 34.1k votes 6.7k voters 688.2k views14 items

List RulesVote 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. 

  • Intended Use: "This is a fascinating little gadget," Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) tells newly minted Agent J (Will Smith) during a tour of the Men in Black facilities. "These are going to replace CDs soon. I guess I'll have to buy the White Album again."

    Actual Use: Yes, MiniDiscs were a thing in real life, but they went out of vogue as quickly as they came. If tiny discs had been the true successor to CDs, they would be even more fragile than their larger counterparts, and not to mention easy to lose.

    Better Technology: We can stream music nearly anywhere and everywhere. Even when not connected, some devices, like the 128 GB iPhone, can hold roughly 32,000 songs

    Is this some dumb tech?
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    The Elaborate Virtual Reality File-Storing Corridor From 'Disclosure'

    Intended Use: Tech company Digicom stores all of its data in a virtual reality system called the Corridor. Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas) attempts to break into the company's Corridor after a former lover (and current boss) attempts to ruin his life.

    Actual Use: This brand of virtual reality makes the user feel like they are somewhere else - somewhere else with a bunch of 2D documents projected in front of them. At best, the Corridor is a high-tech overhead projector.

    Better Technology: Virtual reality today is growing exponentially. From video games to escape rooms to medical use, VR is already centuries past the sad VR technology of Disclosure.

    Is this some dumb tech?
  • Intended Use: This snarky search engine is meant to be like Google but with personality - and lots of it. Dr. Know (Robin Williams) is meant to answer the user's questions, and he does so... sometimes. 

    Actual Use: For whatever reason, scientists in the future love to make their artificial intelligence snarky and unmanageable. If someone truly had important questions to ask an A.I. hub like Dr. Know, they would probably not be as patient as David (Haley Joel Osment).

    Better Technology: Alexa might unexpectedly laugh every once in a while, but at least she can answer most questions someone presents her. 

    Is this some dumb tech?
  • Intended Use: In the world of the Total Recall remake, a company called Rekall implants false memories into people's minds as a means of escape. When Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) pays for a secret agent memory in the Rekall system, he discovers that he was already an agent of sorts - and mysterious people want to take him out. Doug uses his hand phone to make easy video and audio calls. 

    Actual Use: It feels a bit anachronistic for a 2084 bio-phone to still have a 10-digit keypad. Also, if the technology exists to implant phones underneath the skin, why not just do it close to the ear and make it hands-free?

    Better Technology: Microchip implants are on the rise, at least in Sweden. The implants are commercially available and allow access to social media, banking information, and a host of other information in a chip under the thumb skin. Also, our smartphones already have much more sophisticated cameras and video-calling capabilities than Total Recall, which for some reason still has interlaced video.

    Is this some dumb tech?