Welcome to films of futures past, the series where we look at films set in futures that have now passed and ask the question what did they get right? This time we’ll be looking at sci-fi actioner, The 6th Day.
Released in 2000 and set in the year 2015, The 6th Day stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a family man who discovers he has been cloned. In a world where human cloning is illegal, he must save himself from the assassins sent to destroy him to cover up their secret. Alongside the possibility of human cloning, the film also presents several other futuristic advancements predicted to exist in 2015. Now that the year has passed, let’s see what they got right.
As stated in the text at the beginning of the film, British scientists managed to clone a sheep named Dolly in 1996 after 434 attempts proving that the theory was possible. Although human cloning is yet to be achieved, this is more down to the ethical issues rather than feasibility. Some countries have even passed legislation regarding cloning that makes the likelihood of anyone being cloned in the future very small. Besides, even if an exact copy of someone’s human cells and tissues were created, it would only be as an embryo and not a full grown copy like that seen in the film.
In regards to pet cloning, with Dolly the sheep a success it was inevitable that other animals would eventually be subjected to it. The film depicts a commercial service called RePet, offering to clone your deceased pets. In 2004 the first commercially cloned pet was a cat named Little Nicky produced by Genetic Savings and Clone for the fee of $50,000. So in that regard, The 6th Day hit the nail on the head with that one.
Toward the beginning of the film Arnold’s character uses a couple of smart tech devices around his home. The first of which is a mirror able to display a daily schedule, video content and wish him a happy birthday. In 2015 a company called Perseus started developing a smart mirror concept that could display the weather, news, a calendar and videos. By 2017 smart mirrors became widely available with many individuals building their own. So despite being a couple of years out on it’s commercial release they correctly predicted the tech would exist.
Another home device used is a fridge with the ability to warn you when particular contents are low and allows you to re-order immediately. The year of the film’s release LG had designed and built the first smart fridge with in-built webcams to track contents and internet connectivity to re-order. Unfortunately at more than $20,000 it didn’t take off right away, but as other electronics manufacturers such as Samsung improved on the tech and affordability by 2015 smart fridges were becoming more commonplace. Although discoveries in vulnerability raised questions regarding their online security. So although the concept was already a reality in 2000, they were correct to assume many homes would have one by 2015.
As Arnold and his work colleague played by Michael Rappaport commute to work, Rappaport has seemingly given full control over to the car enabling him to have an in-depth conversation, rarely glancing at the road. Autonomous cars have featured in films for many years and is an idea that has been developed by car manufacturers as far back as the late 1920s. With each stage of development increasing the number of tasks the car can perform under it’s programming, companies such as Mercedes, Tesla and Google have been making large strides over the last decade. In 2014 Google revealed its fully autonomous prototype with no steering wheel, gas pedal or brake pedal. Whilst self-driving cars were not causing traffic jams in 2015, Tesla are hoping to roll out their fully-autonomous systems in 2018. So, not far out on that one.
Throughout the film 3D holograms are seen in various places from advertisements to a holographic girlfriend. Holography has existed since the 1940s, but despite incremental advancements in the technology we’re still not quite there when it comes to 3D holograms as depicted in the film. Current holograms can only be projected onto a flat surface, so despite their incredible 3D effect, it couldn’t straddle you like the woman seen in the film. However, scientists believe we’re not far off that possibility.
Advanced Robotic Toys
SimPal Cindy is the latest hot toy in The 6th Day, an advanced full size robot friend that can do a variety of things as well as grow real hair. Despite being one of the creepiest toys ever, it’s what all the kids want or have. Over the last twenty years robot toys have become more and more advanced from furbies in the late 90s, RoboSapien in 2004, to Cozmo a couple of years ago. But whilst robotics in other fields have come an incredibly long way, we’re still not quite there when it comes to creepy robot dolls that grow hair, let alone in 2015.
So there you have it, The 6th Day attempted to paint a picture of what life would be like in 2015 and to be fair it was pretty close. It seems we’re still a few years off 3D holographic girlfriends and robotic dolls for our children, but the smart devices used were a reality in 2015 along with pet cloning and they weren’t far off predicting autonomous cars out on the roads. Human cloning on the other hand was a real long shot and something I doubt we’ll ever see due to it’s ethical issues. We’ll give The 6th Day a C+.