Looking Into The Future On 'Back To The Future Day'04:53

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October 21, 2015, was the day Marty McFly traveled to in the 1989 movie "Back to the Future Part II." The world the film depicts isn't one that we live in: no flying cars or hover boards.

Now that "Back to the Future Day" has arrived, Here & Now wants to try to envision what the world might be like in a few decades. We asked listeners to send us their predictions on Facebook and Twitter.

Paul Cauduro tweeted about cities built underwater. Hudson Doyle wrote that he hopes someone will invent a way to transform waste back into its component parts to be reused as new material. And Nels Nelson added, "I will settle for a pink Hello Kitty hoverboard."

Futurist Aaron Rosa talks with host Jeremy Hobson about what the future might look like.

Interview Highlights: Aaron Rosa

Are any of the predictions from "Back To The Future Part II" realistic?

“I mean, we can build living apparatuses for under water, hover boards may be not as realistic. Though, yeah, I know, this year Nissan and a bunch of people said ‘We’ve got one!’ They’re not that great, but they’ve got them.”

What about transforming trash back into its component parts to be reused as new material again?

“I think that’s one of the more interesting ones on this list, really. I mean, there are some, you know – nanotechnologies have been around for a while and that’s essentially what they want to do is how far down the chain can we recycle materials and we have such a problem with waste already. If we can figure out ways to turn it into something useful, that would be fantastic.”

How do our thoughts about the future shape the future?

“Our thoughts about the future are very, very important in terms of shaping the future. This is why science fiction like ‘Back to the Future’ is so important for us to keep refreshed, to keep a part of the conversation. When we begin talking and discussing about the things we’d like to see in the future – that has momentum and it has a social capital all its own that gets projects started, keeps people working on how are we going to improve our lives, our technologies, and the things around us.”

What’s an example of something we thought of and then it happened as a result?

“One of the most recent ones, you know, in the last century that’s kind of famous and has been really important is space travel. You know, we started thinking about traveling to the moon, who knows how long ago, but we did that. We accomplished that as a human race. Really the entire technological world that we see around us, and societies that are based on all those technologies – those all came from somebody’s ideas about ‘I bet this would be better if we had ‘x’ in the future.’ And so really it’s this constant dialogue between how our societies think about what they’d like to be like, and then how they go about starting to create those lives.”

But we don’t have flying cars or hover boards, which they thought we would when they dreamt up ‘Back to the Future Part II’?

“This is very true, very true. I’m really, really glad that we don’t have flying cars everywhere. They’re dangerous enough just moving along the surface of the planet. I can’t imagine having - well, let’s see, we’re about to have probably in the next 30 years, we’re going to add another billion people to the planet and even if a half of them, or a quarter of them, or a tenth of them were flying around in cars – that just sounds dangerous to me.”

What would you like to see 25 years from now?

“Wow, 25 years from now. So over the next 25 years, we’re going to be faced with a lot of serious planetary challenges. We already know that they exist - global warming, ocean acidification, sea level rise and there’s even talk recently of mass extinction – these are serious issues. They’re not given. These aren’t necessarily going to happen, but they do mean that we need to take action. It’s time for humans to step up and I think that our ecology is one of the more important things I’d really like to see the next 25 years. I’d like to see humans take an actionable stance towards that and really make some progress in maintaining our ecology and keeping it healthy for future generations.”


This segment aired on October 21, 2015.


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