Hey, Tech Community, Maybe You’re Overdoing It a Little With Minority Report?

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Photo: 20th Century Fox

It's been more than eight years since Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Philip K. Dick's short story — about a police state that used "precogs" to predict and stop crime before it occurred — hit theaters. And about as long since we could watch a Tom Cruise vehicle and not have "Scientologist! Scientologist! Scientologist!" running like ticker tape through our neural pathways. But all that time and distance hasn't loosened its stranglehold on the tech media's imagination. In the past week alone, there have been nearly 300 stories that reference Minority Report, including coverage of billboards that address people by name, tracking software that predicts the future, and touchable user interfaces. And don't forget the multiple roundups about how closely real-life technology mirrors Minority Report. This shows us two things: (1) People are totally reading Twitter, and (2) it's time for a new metaphor.

There's a reason, of course, that techies can't help themselves from dipping into the Minority Report well. Back in the early aughts, Spielberg hired a team of futurists to help him develop a vision of where the future was headed. So no one's saying Minority Report isn't the Most Influential Sci-Fi Movie of Our Time. But tech writers, get a Netflix subscription or something: You've already blown your reference wad on this one. Some recent offenders:

The Telegraph:

The new advertising hoardings will behave like those in the film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, in which Cruise's character is confronted with digital signs that call out his name as he walks through a futuristic shopping mall.

The Huffington Post:

An article that appeared Wired Danger Room yesterday reveals that the CIA and Google are now in cahoots to invest in a new company called Recorded Future -- a real-life version of Minority Report, one that's all fact and no fantasy, It's purpose is to know the present and predict the future, totally.

Mediaite:

Frankly, though, until Tom Cruise comes bursting through the office door to arrest our Managing Editor for the future assault of some Mediaite commenters, my inner geek is more concerned with how cool this sounds.

Fast Company:

As well as the "business intelligence" side to the firm, there's a real feeling of Minority Report, here. It sounds like the kind of tool that will be used to predict crimes and terrorist activity as well.

Computerworld:

Science fiction becomes reality in today's IT Blogwatch. Minority Report is here -- no, not the arm-wavy user interfaces, but pre-crime analytics, courtesy of IBM's Blue CRUSH. Read on to find bloggers getting to grips with Armonk's precogs.

The Future According To 'Minority Report' May Be Now [NPR]
7 Ways Real-life Crime Fighting Mirrors Minority Report [Fast Company]