The folly of mankind playing god. The inevitability of nature’s triumph over man’s efforts to contain and control it. That life finds a way. Whatever moral or message you took from your first viewing of Jurassic Park, the chances are it wasn’t that, y’know what, we really need more dinosaurs about.
But then you’re probably not Elon Musk’s Neuralink business partner Max Hodak, the man alongside whom Musk plans to start putting microchips into people’s brains by the end of the year. “We could probably build Jurassic Park if we wanted to,” he tweeted earlier this month, to which the only sane response is ‘in the name of all things holy, please don’t do that’. “Wouldn’t be genetically authentic dinosaurs but [man shrugging emoji],” he continued, “maybe 15 years of breeding + engineering to get super exotic novel species…”
we could probably build jurassic park if we wanted to. wouldn’t be genetically authentic dinosaurs but 🤷♂️. maybe 15 years of breeding + engineering to get super exotic novel species
— Max Hodak (@max_hodak) April 4, 2021
So it’s mutant armour-plated mega-raptors he’s wishing into reality now? Getting a bit cosy and dull up here at the top of the food chain, is it? Time to spice life up a bit by throwing a little angry-thirty-foot-reptilian-carnivore action into the pot? Don’t know about you, but if there was a real-life Jurassic Park I wouldn’t even dare pop in to use the toilets.
If cinema – from Jurassic Park to The Fly and Prometheus – has taught us anything about messing around with other species, it’s that no curious biologist should ever be left alone in a lab for the sake of humanity. If we’re going to utilise cutting edge modern technology to bring films to life, there are far better options to choose. If we’re desperate to share a planet with a gigantic, violent reptile, perhaps we should consider genetically engineering our very own Godzilla – at least it’d be on our side. Plus, as a sea-dwelling nuclear monster, it might be able to melt all the microplastics into an adhesive goo that it can use to stick the ice caps back together.
If we’re going to try to focus our most imagineering billionaires’ resources away from pointlessly realising The Martian and onto other cinematic fantasies, let’s at least make suggestions that might actually benefit us. It seems premature, for instance, to start talking about recreating entire prehistoric hunting grounds before we’ve even got Iron Man jetpacks or the hoverboards that Back To The Future II promised us would be around by 2015. And once Musk and his boffins have cracked anti-gravity, we’re halfway to a real-life Blade Runner, driving sky-cars around vertical cities full of personalised holo-adverts 10 storeys high. And who wouldn’t relish the chance to live in a smog-clogged sci-fi techno-dystopia, with a summer place, perhaps, in the post-apocalyptic desert wasteland?
Imagine the Star Wars landspeeders, hover bikes and cloud cities we could build. They could solve so many problems – we could give one to the Super League (if it ever happens) to play their matches in for millionaire sky people while the rest of us down here get on with having to support Brentford. Or call one ‘Float Britain’, cover it in Union Jacks and give it to the Brexit Party and all their supporters to live in, suspended in splendid British isolation three miles above Buckingham Palace. It would certainly be preferable to their own likely cinematic preference – to build an actual London-on-wheels that can drive around having fights with other European cities, like in Mortal Engines.
It’s such twisting of cinematic physics that really fascinates me. Musk has previously discussed the idea of creating a real-life warp drive, which might help bring all manner of intergalactic sci-fi wonders to our doorstep but will probably just mean we’ll all learn how long it takes to do the Kessel Run on a replacement bus service. Meanwhile, let’s repurpose the Large Hadron Collider to create the wormhole to an alternate universe from Donnie Darko, so that we might get a glimpse of a world where Dominic Cummings never happened. We should, however, set a strict Nolan Limit on such developments – no one wants to find themselves stuck in my recurring nightmare of being naked in a maths exam and if the world starts going backwards like in Tenet we’ll all have to watch Mumford and Sons headline Glastonbury again.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but filmic fantasies have become reality before. A simple VR headset could now let us all experience 10 minutes in the head of John Malkovich, and we’ve all been living in Groundhog Day for a year already. Others are going to become essential – James Bond’s underwater car from The Spy Who Loved Me will soon be made an inevitability if we’re still going to get around during all this global warming. But let’s retain a calm, sensible, non-dinosaur approach to the future or, before too long, we might find some mad billionaire is trying to turn us all into singing human cats.