New Technology Paper: 2015 as Displayed in Back to the Future II


As the year 2015 came upon us, people got thinking about the popular 80s film, Back to the Future II. This is the film where Marty McFly goes forward in time to the year 2015. The film was released in 1989 and thus tried to predict the world 26 years on. That is by no means easy to do but some of the predictions are quite accurate  while others – think fax machines, are pretty off.

New Technology 2015 student, Gadidjah Margrét Ögmundsdóttir, chose as a research topic to examine the technology predicted in the film and how accurate it was. As she says in the introduction of the paper:

The predicted 2015 has flying cars and thus floating road signs and traffic regulations in the sky. It also includes hoverboards, self-drying and fitting clothing, automated homes, dehydrated pizzas, video conferencing, dominant fax machines, and many other peculiarities. Many things collide with the real 2015, other things are far off, and some things are completely missing.

This report discusses the predictions made of the year 2015 in the 1989 movie Back to the Future Part II. The predicted technologies as well as the predicted behavioral changes based on those technologies are evaluated and analyzed. How well can the future be predicted? Is it possible to foresee the chain effect of innovation, leading to new technology and behaviors? Why were some advancements of technology easier to predict than others?

One of the interesting points made in the paper is the observation that the movie totally lacks smartphones, probably the most popular technology in 2015.

Gadidjah Margrét’s paper can be found here: