How Back to the Future changed conveyancing

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21 October 2015

Posted by Scott Bozinis, CEO of Legal Futures Associate InfoTrack

bridesmaid dresses discount saleToday is a special day for all Back to the Future fans, and for those who don’t know or haven’t seen a newspaper today, 21 October 2015 is the day that Marty McFly arrived in the future.

In 1989, when the film was made, long before smart phones and the internet, Back to the Future Part II propelled audiences forward into 2015, showcasing what appeared to be impossible and almost laughable advances in technology that changed the way people communicated with one another, entertained themselves and performed tasks.

Flash forward to present day, and it’s worth looking at the film’s predictions and identifying what was made a reality, and what we have lived through or grown up with in terms of technological change.

What was predicted?

Our infatuation with personal electronics. From smart phones to tablets, laptops and the next wave of gadgets such as Google glasses, modern society has an obsession with personal electronics. In the film, the characters wear TV glasses and even use these to answer the phone. Our preoccupation with being connected at all times hasn’t yet extended to these lengths, but it has certainly changed the frequency and ways in which we communicate on both a personal and professional level. I can only see this continuing to increase.

Holding the world in your hands. There is a scene in which Marty uses a tablet to sign a petition to save the clock tower. The majority of those living in today’s society would be aware of the existence of tablets and how pervasive they have become in recent years. The convenience and affordability of this handheld device has changed the way people work and consume media, and has even allowed some industries to provide a much more flexible, mobile and personalised service.

Having the ability to access the internet wherever, whenever means working on the road or while on holiday is now not only possible, but very easy.

Getting some FaceTime. At the beginning of the film, the 2015 Marty McFly is fired by his boss over what looks a lot like Skype. Where a face-to-face meeting isn’t available, video calling is the natural alternative. People like to see who they are speaking with, and this kind of technology again is allowing business to be conducted in a more flexible and dynamic manner without losing the personal touch.

With the rise of smartphones, Apple has even developed a feature for video conference calls on a personal level, so no longer is video calling confined to the realms of the professional world, but now calling and speaking face-to-face with someone wherever you are is commonplace.

Television as art? From the traditional box-like TVs of yesteryear to the sleek wall-mounted televisions that we currently have, Back to the Future Part II predicted the idea that the moving picture would become a feature of every modern living room. It went so far as to suggest the television would be elevated to almost an ‘art’ status by mounting it on the wall like a picture.

The advances of technology around the quality of television displays (including 3D) have certainly made this a modern day truth. Further to this, the accessibility of masses of channels and networks, in particular, access to online global platforms such as Netflix, allow you to watch channels from around the world, and even multiple channels simultaneously in various arrangements – something that was also uncannily visualised by the film.

Back to the Future predicted many more seemingly bizarre technological trends that have now become reality, such as the hoverboard – it is certainly worth watching to see these for yourself.

However, unsurprisingly, there were also several other predications that didn’t quite come to fruition. Fax machines did not become the preferred method of communication, although these are still in use today in many homes and workplaces. Laser discs, or CDs as they became more affectionately known, are gradually being replaced by more practical methods of storing and carrying information such as USBs or cloud storage. Even many software companies no longer provide physical discs with their data on it to customers and instead direct them to use a secure code online.

Over the 26 years since the film was released, some of the technology depicted could have been predicted to some extent. Particularly with the advent of the internet later, it was only a matter of time before the human need for constant communication took us on a journey to develop different ways in which to close the time/space gap that separates us globally. The things that seemed virtually impossible back in 1989, we now take for granted every day.

So how has your firm moved with these changes in technology? Not 20 years ago, conveyancing used to involve filling out all forms manually, using a physical directory to address documents, and then having to wait for them to be returned via post.

Looking back, it is now clear how inefficient the process was, and we are lucky to have easy access to tools that allow us to be proactive, eliminating these inefficiencies to work smarter, not harder.

Watching the film today, what is obvious is that it cleverly predicted how the future would be an easier place to work, and with greater efficiencies through the use of technology, which neatly summarises just what we do at InfoTrack. The reality, though, is that there is still so much more that could be improved in conveyancing.

Personally, I’m just pleased the double tie fashion accessory didn’t take hold!

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