Imagine a world where technology can predict when someone is going to commit a crime: well that is exactly what it is like in Minority Report, which takes place in the not so distant future of 2054 Washington DC. There is a prototype program within the police department called PreCrime that reveals crimes in real time, so the officers can go and arrest the people committing these crimes before they ever happens. Captain John Anderton is one of the program’s finest , yet one day he receives a notice that he will murder a man he has never met within the next couple days. Therefore, he goes on a mission to figure out how to prevent this. On the surface, PreCrime seems like a great and effective program; however, as the movie reveals, there are several flaws within it that need to be exposed.
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG7DGMgfOb8
*Beware: Spoilers Ahead*
The movie itself reflects on the age old concept of free will vs. determinism. Both are evident within the film, but the creators definitely point to free will being the right answer to this debate. The PreCrime unit embodies determinism at its finest, yet the movie shows viewers how incorrect and dangerous this perception can be. In addition, by the end, the program is disbanded and all the prisoners are released, pointing to how even some of the people within the program believe it was corrupt. It was proven that people still have a sense of free will as Captain Anderton was able to change his fate by choosing to not murder.
Minority Report would be an excellent addition to the course because of the philosophical aspects it examines. We talked about some philosophy earlier in the year with the articles on Deontology and Consequentialism. I think that this movie would fit in well on the schedule around that time because I think the movie would go along well with the idea of how people make their decisions. It would be really interesting to set up the talk the class before with the free will vs. determinism debate while the next class discuss Deontology vs. Consequentialism. The topics seem to fit hand in hand, so they should be used to improve the discussion of the others.
As far as the themes for the class go, I think it would relate to all three themes. With Digital Self, people are being modified or extorted for their special skill sets like with the Precogs. They themselves are the technology that is being used to run the PreCrime unit. On the other hand, Digital Consumer also fits in as everyone within the society are constantly relying on the technology that has been provided to them. I guess the would be similar to our society now. The society goes as far as to identify people by scanning their eyes. Captain Anderton was forced to get an eye transplant as a result. The Digital Creator category has to do with how the “future” is seen via the Precogs. This sense of creation in their minds is what sets everything off in the film.
The assignment I would create alongside watching the film would be to examine one other source of technology used throughout the movie like the eye replacement surgery, self driving cars, robotic bugs, or the 4D computer screens. Students could then evaluate the impact these technologies had on the society in the film and think about how it would effect our society now if it were implemented.
I think it would be interesting to examine something from the early 2000s in this class. This time period corresponds with the beginning of the rise of technology, which our class has examined. Also, the film depicts technology that was not available at the time but is now like personalized ads and voice automation technology. I think it would be cool to look back and see how people saw the future almost twenty years ago. From there the class could start discussing what technology they hope to see in twenty years from now. The 2002 Minority Report would also be interesting to examine because of how most of our articles and resources are from the past few years, and it would be nice to mix it up with something a little older. Overall, I think this movie would be fun to both watch and discuss, making it perfect to add to the course!