Discussion Questions

for Films from the Future

If you are reading Films from the Future in a book club, using it in a class, or simply interested in a study guide to accompany it for your own personal use, these questions may be helpful.

They’re designed to kick-start interesting conversations, but are just a starting point for getting more out of the book!


Discussion questions:

  • What are some of the ways in which new technologies are people’s lives today?
  • How does the current speed of technology innovation present unique challenges?
  • Should tech companies and scientists be doing more to innovate ethically and responsibly?
  • Can art – including movies – really provide insights into the ethical development and use of new technologies?


Jurassic Park (1993)


Discussion questions:

  • Is using genetic engineering to bring extinct species back a good idea?
  • Should scientists be allowed to experiment with altering the genetic code of humans?
  • Can experts ever completely predict the consequences of a new technology?
  • Who should decide what scientists can and cannot do?
  • Are rich entrepreneurs with grandiose ideas good for society?


Never Let Me Go (2010)


Discussion questions:

  • How realistic is the story that evolves in Never let Me Go?
  • What are the pros and cons of cloning humans?
  • What makes someone genuinely “human”?
  • Are there technologies that exist now that are so useful that they are too big to be allowed to fail?


Minority Report (2002)


Discussion questions:

  • If scientists could develop ways of spotting potential criminals, how should they use the technology?
  • Could artificial intelligence one day predict what people are going to do?
  • Can machines and algorithms reflect the biases of their creators? And if so, how do we ensure that these don’t adversely affect people?
  • how important is personal privacy in a world where everything’s being recorded?


Limitless (2011)


Discussion questions:

  • What is “intelligence?”
  • Would you (or do you) use “smart drugs?” And if so, why?
  • Do you think there are times and places where smart drugs should not be used?
  • Who should decide who gets access to medications that can improve mental performance, and who doesn’t? 


Elysium (2013)


Discussion questions:

  • If we could one day 3D print replacement body parts, how big of a game-changer would this be?
  • How realistic is the division between rich and poor as it’s portrayed in Elysium?
  • Is it better to create more jobs with some being in dangerous workplaces, or to improve workplace safety but as a result reduce the number of jobs available?
  • How do you think automation will affect your life over the next 10 years?


Ghost in the Shell (1995)


Discussion questions:

  • If you could enhance your body with technological implants, would you?
  • Do you think we’ll ever have wireless brain-computer interfaces, and if so, is it a good idea?
  • Is there a point at which replacing body parts with machines might affect how “human” someone is?
  • If you have a machine in your body that you depend on, who’s responsible for keeping it going?


Ex Machina (2014)


Discussion Questions:

  • What are some of the pros and cons of innovating without permission?
  • Are “superintelligent” machines likely to emerge in the future?
  • What are the most exciting and most scary aspects of artificial intelligence to you?
  • What does “intelligence” mean when it applies to a machine?


Transcendence (2014)


Discussion questions:

  • What does “technological convergence” mean?
  • How important is it for everyone to ask tough questions about the impacts of new technologies?
  • Is terrorism in the name of halting dangerous technologies ever justified?
  • How can people sift out realistic expectations of science and technology from the hype?


The Man in the White Suit (1951)


Discussion questions:

  • How could engineering materials atom by atom change the world as we know it?
  • Should scientists be taught to better-understand how people and society operate?
  • Are good intentions good enough in science and technology?
  • How involved should members of the public be in what science is done, and how it’s used?


Inferno (2016)


Discussion questions:

  • Can bad movies still be useful in making sense of emerging technologies and what they might do?
  • Should scientists be allowed to create deadly pathogens in the lab, and tell others how to do it?
  • Do the ends ever justify the means when attempting to create a better future using science and technology?
  • How can scientists be advocates and activists? Should they be?


The Day After Tomorrow (2004)


Discussion questions:

  • How fragile is the current state of the Earth’s climate?
  • What does it mean to be a responsible citizen in the “anthropocene?”
  • Is it better to try and maintain the Earth as it is, or ensure it is resilient to change?
  • Should we use geoengineering to intentionally manipulate the Earth’s climate?


Contact (1997)


Discussion questions:

  • Are religious beliefs and science mutually incompatible?
  • How important is belief important in science, and why?
  • Is Occam’s Razor a useful concept for separating out likely possibilities around emerging technologies from improbable ones?
  • How are people likely to react if we we discover life on another world?


Discussion questions:

  • Is technology innovation a force for good or bad in society?
  • Who’s responsible for ensuring science and technology benefit as many people as possible?
  • What can you do to ensure that science and technology are used to create a better future?
  • What emerging technologies most excite you
  • What emerging technologies most concern you?

Films from the Future is available from:

And everywhere good books are sold.

Published by Mango Publishing
ISBN: 978-1633539075