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: