Visions of the future

Design transforms our current world into a preferred state. Conclusions about what such preferred states are, requires in depth knowledge about ethics, economics and technology. But since these preferred states are situated in the future, they always include a certain amount of speculation.

Science Fiction books and films speculate about possible futures and technological developments. This genre has a rich history of ideas and stories. They often reflect the current trends in our society. The original Star Trek TV series, for example, reflected the cold war. The united earth symbolized America, whereas the Klingons represented the USSR.

Understanding the social and cultural dimensions of Science Fiction, enables the students to make better choices in their designs. Designers are at the pivot point of creating brave new worlds and they require knowledge about what visions of the future exist to be able to avoid a 1984.

The movies are often longer than two hours, and hence two time slots (one whole afternoon) are necessary for this assignment. This assignment is the second in a series of two. It focuses on recent SciFi movies.

Learning Activities

The students will watch one SciFi movie per session and will watch one additional SciFi movie at home. They will reflect on these movies by answering several questions that will be posted for every movie in our Moodle platform.


The students will reflect on the ideas behind the SciFi movies by answer a set of given questions. In addition, they will pick one machine-human interaction from each movie and argue about its desirability and quality.


Visions of the future is divided into two courses. The first will look at early SciFi movies while the later investigates more recent releases.

Visions of the future 1

  • Metropolis 1927
  • The day the earth stood still 1951
  • Dr Strangelove 1964
  • War of the worlds 1953
  • 2001 A space odyssey 1968
  • Fahrenheit 451 1966
  • Clockwork orange 1971
  • THX1138 1971
  • Silent Running 1972
  • Soylent Green 1973
  • Logans run 1976
  • Dark star 1974
  • Brazil 1985
  • Hitchhickers guide to the galaxy 1981

Visions of the future 2

  • Blade Runner 1982
  • Tron 1982
  • Dune 1984
  • Nausicaä 1984
  • Ghost in the shell 1995
  • Twelve monkeys 1995
  • The fifth element 1997
  • Gattaca 1997
  • Existenz 1999
  • Dark city 1998
  • I robot 2004
  • The matrix 1999
  • Sunshine 2007
  • Aeon flux 2005


Christoph Bartneck
Jan Rouvroye

One thought on “Visions of the future”

  1. Hi Christoph and Jan,

    A very interesting course and a great selection of movies. I like to add a movie which you might not have seen. Screamers (1995).

    That Sci-Fi movie was quite inspiring and expanded my thoughts about artificial intelligence. Especially how we humans will interact with robots of the future with emotions like empathy, love, hate and fear.

    It also stimulates curiosity and discussion from a philosophical view.


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