Fifty-two years from now, we’ll still shop at the Gap, read USA Today, and watch ”Cops.” Or at least that’s what Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise would have us believe in ”Minority Report.” True, the box-office topper doesn’t reveal what we REALLY want to know (who wins ”American Idol,” anyway?). But it does combine visionary details with a steady wave of product placements to create a relatively credible picture of America in 2054. Assuming you live that long, and that Spielberg somehow has managed to be as precognitive as his murder-predicting mutants, here’s a cultural guide to his future.
Shopping Not only will the Gap still be around, it’ll apparently sell exactly the same clothes: turtlenecks, jeans, khakis. But the era’s omnipresent eye-scanning technology will allow each store to recognize you from prior visits; it’ll even remember your specific sizes (on the downside, the computer’s habit of noting these out loud could prove embarrassing to the bodily self-conscious). Oddly, these Gap stores will thrive inside shopping malls that have the same maddeningly slow escalators as today’s.
Advertising Household brands like Pepsi, Aquafina, Lexus, Bulgari, American Express, and Ben & Jerry’s will no longer remain passive: Their billboards will recognize you by your eyes and give you a direct sales pitch, addressing you by name. Take note: If, like Cruise’s character, you’re trying to hide from the cops, this outspoken marketing twist can lead to even more distress than, say, today’s pop-up ads.
Transportation Sorry, no flying cars. But the compact autos of the future do travel on magnetized tracks that run up the sides of buildings. This means parking will no longer be a problem because you’ll be able to pull up to the side of your 50th floor apartment, dock your car, and step right inside. So long, SUVs.