In a recent episode of the podcast BackStory, host Ed Ayers presents his co-hosts with a puzzle. He gives them three different visions of the future and asks: What do they all have in common?

  1. Two guys, Mike Donovan and Gregory Powell, have been tasked with investigating an abandoned mining operation on Mercury. The conditions are so harsh that the men cannot even go outside. So they turn to the only one amongst them that can handle the intense heat of the sun: a robot called Speedy.
  2. There's a helicopter pilot named Adam Gibson. He lives in a place where animal cloning is practiced widely. Human cloning is still illegal but there's a thriving black market in human clones anyway. Gibson gets embroiled in the shady world of human cloning and discovers that he himself has been cloned and the second Gibson has assumed his identity.
  3. A teenager named Marty walks into the middle of town and is surprised to find enormous advertisements being projected on the sides of buildings. "Jaws 19" is on the movie marquee and cars whizz by through the air. Marty is absolutely floored by all this because up to this point he has lived in a very different world.
Any guesses?

The three scenarios were:

  1. "Runaround" an Isaac Asimov short story from 1942
  2. Movie The 6th Day with Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2000
  3. Movie Back to the Future Part II a Robert Zimeckis film from 1989
What did they all have in common?

All three scenarios are set in the unimaginable year of the future 2015.

Welcome to the future.