Jul 31 2016

Shadow Scout Commentary: Cautionary Tech Tales

Thanks to Pokémon GO, augmented reality (AR) has been on our minds quite a bit. By merging the virtual world with the actual world on a grand scale so quickly, many outrageous Pokémon GO stories sound like urban legends …did you hear the one about these GO players who found (fill in your favorite Law & Order subplot here). And with the release of “Nerve“–a movie about young people playing an online game of truth or dare that has them doing anything to break the internet (and each other)–the theme of technology as both terribly addicting and simply terrifying persists.

Several movies have played on that constant tension in our relationship with technology: as much as we are compelled by the promise of technology for humanity, we are often as repelled by the perils of what technology could change about our humanity.

Here’s a quick list of cautionary tech tales:

This movie was social commentary on top of social commentary (compliments to Rod Serling!). Filmed roughly five years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the shadow of the Cold War loomed large along with concern for harnessing nuclear power responsibly, as evidenced by Charlton Heston’s anguished cry during the movie’s iconic ending, “You finally did it!”

Combine the audacity of HAL 9000 with the military hookup of Skynet, and you have Colossus. Starring Eric Braeden (best known as soap opera bae Victor Newman on “The Young and The Restless”), this movie is the classic story of A.I. Knows Best for Humans (Whether Humans Like it Or Not).

Ok, the virtual reality special effects in the movie don’t quite hold up today–but this ’90s kid appreciated the sci-fi/horror take on “Flowers for Algernon.” If anything, the take home message of this movie is beware of geeks bearing oculus rifts!

This cyberpunk actioner starred a pre-“Neo” Keanu Reeves as a data courier with some very valuable information in his head. Set in the year 2021, most of the world’s population suffered from NAS, or “nerve attenuation syndrome”, a debilitating illness brought about by humanity’s heavy reliance on technology.

A #SaturdayNightSciFi fave of mine–this film is highly underrated. Taking on racism, politics, complex relationships and cybernetic voyeurism–“Strange Days” is that rare blend of scifi noir. What makes me love this film even more is knowing this production had strong women at the helm in front of and behind the camera: “Strange Days” was directed by Jane Campion, and starred Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis.


About the author

The Shadow Scout

Lakita’s geek force within was first publicly observed when she bopped to Herbie Hancock’s “Rock It” video as a very young child. This same said force was nurtured in adolescence through many weekends watching “Star Trek: Original Series” with her father and VHS binge-reserving “The Twilight Zone” television series from her nearest nerd sanctuary, the public library! Lakita also considers herself a public service “lifer” and supports youth voice inspired and empowered by the arts. A live tweeter and competitive trivia leaguer with dreams of learning esperanto or coding one day (whichever comes first), you can usually find her on twitter: @artshumana

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