Get All Access for $5/mo

How Sci-Fi Movies and Shows Spark Real-World Innovation What starts as a fantastical idea in a writer's mind often leads to transformative tech in our lives.

By Jonny Caplan Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Anna Gawlik | Shutterstock

Believe it or not, movie script writers, producers and directors are ironically — and comedically — technological prophets. Usually, it's totally unwittingly, as their true goal is really to create complex fictional dreams for us to immerse ourselves in, and of course, to entertain. But their elaborate and conceptual technological fantasies become the blueprints, and true creative inspiration for the technology entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers of the world, who end up developing these innovative technologies for us to use in real life.

Movies spark innovation

Remember the flying cars from The Jetsons, the talking Johnny-5 robot from Short Circuit, the 3D holographic health scanning device from Star Trek, or the superpowered A.I. brain from Wargames? All these crazy-cool technologies have now been invented, created and are already in use.

I personally interviewed many emerging technology innovators who were inspired in some way by movies on our award-winning TV series TechTalk on Amazon Prime and Entrepreneur TV, which I co-host with my dear friend "The Amazing" Jessy Katz. (Her connection to film-inspired tech is deeper than most — she's Steven Spielberg's highly talented niece.)

Related: The Entrepreneurial Genius of 'Star Wars'

According to MIT, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, leading to why we are so impressionable by TV and film. I find it quite incredible how human brains soak up information and references by the millisecond, which we can then turn into innovation and creativity in a heartbeat.

Well, technology isn't always created in a heartbeat, as several innovators have been slaving away at futuristic devices for decades. Take Professor Eli Kolberg and his soccer-playing robots, for instance, or Urban Aeronautics' Cityhawk flying taxis; both teams are at the tail end of a 30-year journey to change the dynamics of our technological future, however, they look like something straight out of the Jetsons and iRobot. What amazing stamina and belief to see the future, and to work for decades to achieve that dream.

Inspiration everywhere

I remember growing up as a Gen-X kid and thinking how much I had learned from television and the Internet. Well today, due to the rise of social media, Millennials and Gen-Zers and are absorbing information at unprecedented levels.

According to Pew Research, "Nearly all (95%) American teenagers aged 13 to 17 report using TikTok, with 16% saying they use it almost constantly." Digiday notes, "The unique thing about Gen Z is that while millennials have grown up with social media, Gen Z has grown up with video-first social media."

With all this rapid evolution and development, doctors and neuroscientists are still clambering to understand how the human brain works. The truth is, they don't fully understand it, with claims that we only utilize a minuscule portion of our brains, just as dramatized in feature films such as Lucy and Limitless.

Related: 50 Years of Leadership Lessons From Star Trek

Well, the 10% brain myth, may factually be a ruse, however, according to Salk Institute for Biological Studies, we may have 10 times more capacity for memory in the brain than previously thought.

We know for sure that the brain loves visuals, and therefore arts and culture has a fundamental impression on our mind and lives. Depending on a person's demographics, upbringing, influences and network, the way they see and think about the world, can drastically change in their thought processes, creativity, understanding and ultimate destiny.

The Path to Success

In the past, we measured a person's success based on their education, resources, and achievements, but today, education, professional skills and experience can be replaced for simply being able to create on social media, or working in a professional where technology, artificial intelligence and machines do most the hard work.

Truth be told, it's a phenomenal time to be a creator, with so many new verticals to explore and conquer. Now with the internet, smartphones, blockchain, robots and AI, they all provide easy and remote access to innovation, marketing, and opportunity for anyone who is bold enough to try.

Some argue that this is a bad time for creators, with artificial intelligence and robotics potentially taking jobs, but I strongly disagree, the time is ripe, the time is now, we need to learn how to harness technology for good and for the benefit of society and evolution, and prevent it for disadvantaging or ruining human life.

Technology isn't going to stop evolving and we need to jump on the train quickly before we risk becoming a Kodak or Blockbuster Video, who are victims of missing the rapid evolution of technology.

Never has there been a time where the average Joe can be so creative and entrepreneurial and get involved on such a grand scale, in so many new avenues, with the 24/7 opportunity to collaborate and monetize on the global stage.

Things are evolving fast, and TV, film, theatre, art, and music have greatly shaped how we see the world. That's exactly why MTV was such a big hit in its day; music, culture fashion and style were all broadcast in a unified manner, to be absorbed, regurgitated, and experienced globally.

Iconic shows created and celebrated culture via television for many in the '80s and '90s, likewise, modern-day productions, such as Shark Tank, TechTalk and Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch have spawned an army of hungry new entrepreneurs with over $200M in deal flow via the exposure of TV.

It's no wonder that fictional media and entertainment showcasing unfathomable and futuristic technological apparatus has catapulted us into this automated and machine-infused future at the speed of light.

The Future Is Here

Many speak about the fear of what's coming with futuristic technology. Will A.I. take our jobs and become big brother? Will robots hurt us? These are normal fear-based responses to unknown change, usually based on the premise that there may be a chance we can stop evolution.

AI, robotics and intelligent machines have actually been around for decades. Armies around the world have been using these technologies in real-life scenarios for a long while, but the tech is now evolving fast and becoming much more accessible to the mass market.

The worldwide release and access to the AI-powered Chat GPT certainly raised public awareness and usage of the tech, with investments in AI now soaring. Even Elon Musk is getting back in the game, with the launch of xAI, a new truth-seeking AI project.

Related: 5 Best Sci-Fi Movies and Series to Watch on Netflix

Our reality became even more dystopian/utopian when Boston Dynamic launched their dancing and acrobatic Atlas robots and bionic dog-like pet, called "Spot." We already have R2D2-style autonomous police robots that are guarding our cities, thanks to Knightscope Robotics, who also roam around our casinos, parking lots and airports. We're also starting to fight dementia and Alzheimer's in elderly patients, with autonomous machines and technology, thanks to robots such as Elli-Q.

Science Fiction is becoming our reality, as Star Trek-style scanners are on the way to check our health and zap our food. Believe it or not, it's now perfectly normal for a doctor to elect a robot or AI to participate in a medical procedure or surgery. Even 3D Holographic Surgery is a thing — it's just mind-blowing.

TV and film have had a profound effect on the development and evolution of our society, as we know it, however, both in a positive and negative manner.

Entertainment Fears Innovation

I find it remarkable, both as a filmmaker and technology innovator how closely these two verticals align in synchronicity, but at the same time, are so far apart from each other.

The entertainment industry, although prophets of our technological future, are widely technology and innovation-adverse. The functionality of our televisions and the interactivity of TV, film and theatre is still quite limited and rudimentary.

Imagine the possibilities if we incorporated more advanced technologies into our entertainment!

In my experience, and with our catalog of highly innovative programming and features, the entertainment industry is still much too slow and fearful to adapt and delve into exciting new technologies.

There are, however, some of us are still pushing the boundaries forward.

Making a Change

One of my personal missions in life is to create wholesome, healthy, and impactful media and content, that can be absorbed and interacted with in a multitude of ways. I'm also determined to nurture our society by pioneering and supporting the entertainment industry to evolve successfully and harmoniously with the onset of new and emerging technologies.

Our production company has incorporated both robotics and AI into our processes, for over five years. We also currently have several Original Productions in development, that delve into the future of technology and offer heightened interactivity for the viewer, with more controls and collaboration with their environment and smartphones.

I take my hat off to legendary movie producers, such as the great Steven Spielberg, who had such ambitious and elaborate stories, that ended up shaping our future. Without these futuristic dreams that were shared for us all to see, who knows how far along we would have been with the development of technology?

We have come so far, yet it feels like media is dragging us down today, not uplifting us to the next era. As an industry, we need to focus more on creating the TV and film of our future to aid our next steps.

Create, Innovate and Develop

With the entertainment industry painting our future, yet slow to develop our path, this leaves huge ground for those who are both entertainment-minded and technology-savvy.

Never has there been so much opportunity to interact and utilize new technology in almost every element of a business.

For those in the media industry, we need to embrace usage, testing and trial of new technologies and verticals. The world is developing rapidly, and without leading the way or fast adoption of global trends, we risk becoming a thing of the past. We, of course, must also be mindful of our teams, crews, and workers.

For technology innovators, team up with creators and filmmakers, you guys are made of a similar cloth. Watch movies to explore the possibilities of innovation. Try to find the technologies that have been imagined, but not yet created.

I intend to be at the forefront of this leading revolution, which to be honest, should have already been conquered. There is so much ground to cover, and we have only truly set out on the fast lane.

My adaptation of Alec Baldwin's phrase from the 1992 Glengarry Glen Ross movie would be: "ABC – Always Be Creating."

Get working and start innovating. The future rewards the brave.

Jonny Caplan

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

CEO of Tech Talk Media & Impossible Media

CEO @ Tech Talk Media & Impossible Media | Creative Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 | Host of Amazon Prime's ‘TechTalk’ | Executive Producer of ‘The Rise of A.I.’, ‘NFTme’, ‘Inside NASA’s Innovations’ + | Winner of 25+ Awards & Duke of Edinburgh Award Winner | Media Personality & Speaker

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

Jack Dorsey Says It Will Soon Be 'Impossible to Tell' if Deepfakes Are Real: 'Like You're in a Simulation'

Dorsey said we will "not know what is real and what is fake" in the next five to 10 years.

Business News

Controversial Clothing Company Shein Quietly Files IPO in London

Shein is headquartered in Singapore, where it's been since 2021, though most of its operations, including factories, are in China.

Science & Technology

How Generative AI Is Revolutionizing the Travel Industry

GenAI won't displace travel agents; instead, it will enhance their efficiency, enabling them to focus on crafting tailored experiences that resonate with travelers on a deeper level.

Growing a Business

India is the Perfect Location for International Expansion. Here are 5 Things to Consider When Expanding to India

Entering the Indian market brought several discoveries about the business landscape there — some of them unexpected.

Business News

Mark Cuban's Google Account Was Hacked By 'Sophisticated' Bad Actors

The "Shark Tank" star said someone "called and said I had an intruder and spoofed [Google's] recovery methods."

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.