Blade Runner and the Power of Sci-Fi World-Building

Fictional futures can help shape reality

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Photo: Angela Harburn/Shutterstock
Media Outlet: Future Tense

Kevin Bankston wrote for Slate's Future Tense on building science fiction worlds, specifically referencing the world build for the movie Blade Runner 2049 (no spoilers!).

 Blade Runner is often cited as one of the best, most visually inventive science fiction films ever. With the possible exceptions of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Minority Report, no other film has created a fictional future world so detailed in its execution, so comprehensive in the scope of its vision, and so accurately predictive of—and influential on—the design of the real world. But these movies aren’t just another illustration of the powerful feedback loop between science fiction and reality. If we look closer at the world-building techniques underlying these movies’ possible futures, they may even help us redesign our own futures for the better.


Kevin Bankston is the director of New America’s Open Technology Institute, where he works in the public interest to ensure that all communities have equitable access to an internet that is both open and secure. He previously served as OTI's policy director.