Total Recall: What It Got Right and Wrong, The Future is Here!

Dear readers,

I love Total Recall. Yes, it’s based in a future drawn from Philip K. Dick’s stories, but it’s interesting. I want to let you guys in on a weird secret: what did Total Recall get right and wrong? Note: I’m focusing on the 1990 Total Recall, not the 2012 reboot, as the 1990 one has a bit more jazz with Arnold in it, and Arnold is the best. So without further adieu, here we go.

Virtual reality. This is a promising thing. Just imagine yourself going on a virtual vacation. If I had it my way, for instance, I’d forget the lost luggage, lost things, ticket crap, passports that don’t get stamped, travel bans. We’d want a vacation in the islands, but imagine doing that without actually going there. A virtual reality vacation in Antigua with a few warm sips of tropical air, lime drinks, and so much more. It is a promising thing, but virtual reality has hit the gaming world first. However, I don’t see us doing Saturn cruises any time soon. Virtual reality also allows med students to perform virtual surgeries and use their hands and robotic medical assistants, like Da Vinci Surgical System, to do complicated procedures. Virtual reality helps the med student to learn fast, and simulated surgeries and scenarios might help docs get it right the first time. It’s highly important that surgeries be done right the first time, and using virtual means, the students learning medical procedures will do just that. Now, I’m not expecting anything like implanted memory chips though. Arnold’s character, Douglas Quade is derived from a Douglas Quail, and he has a billion identities, and goes off as a secret agent. However, doctors can’t guarantee they’ll be doing memory implants. Not yet, and hopefully not at all.

Transport. Imagine you’re Douglas Quade, Arnold’s character, unconscious and dumped in a cab. Spoiler alert, the cab talks. And imagine what could happen if you wanted to go somewhere in that talking cab. “You’re in a Johnny Cab.” Oops, there’s a couple things wrong with this picture. While there is CarPlay, Apple’s version of automation in travel, I don’t think we’ll ever quite get to the idea of a mannequin driving you around and talking strangely about a “hell of a day.” Arnold’s character gets noticeably frustrated, and honestly, I think a cabby in a human form is preferable. In any case, transport is not quite as automated as one would think. We do have Waymo, the google smart cars, but they just don’t talk like the cars in Total Recall.

Space colonization. I hope this is wrong for a few reasons: one is that Mars is a red planet that takes a whole year to get to. Two, the whole terror of Martian society being ripped up by an agency sounds much too much for those who are different. Third, why bother colonizing another planet when we could either terraform or destroy it as a human race? While science tells us that Mars is a desert planet with almost little life on it, we’re bound to see more. Thanks to NASA’s Mars rovers, we’re looking at so much of Mars we haven’t seen before. However, we might not even get to Robert Heinlein’s Red Planet either.

If you want to watch Total Recall, do so with a critical eye. However, be careful because you could find yourself wondering if the next cab driver you get is automated or the guy who drives rebels around.

Beth