Another film set in the future, another dystopian prediction. It would seem most directors’ vision of future society is bleak, yet one in which technology continues to advance. Elysium is led by Matt Damon, a terminally ill car thief trapped on a rotting Earth who seeks to reach the rich people settlement in the sky run by a stern Jodie Foster. His reason? He wants to enter a Med-Bay, the only way to save his life. This device is depicted as a sunbed type pod which scans bodies for impairment, then heals as required.
The predictions can be seen in two ways. First, there’s the social aspect. Clear discrepancy exists in medical care between the wealthy and the poor. While advanced and prompt treatments are accessible to those who can afford it, less well-off populations suffer and die from easily preventable diseases.
With regards to technology, a full body scan like that of the Med-Bay can be yours for a small fee, picking up any burgeoning illnesses before they advance. It won’t treat them though — for that the fictional Med-Bay uses nanotechnology, which repairs the body at a cellular level. At Harvard Medical School, human DNA was used to produce a nanorobot. It was able to directly deliver molecules to cancer cells to trigger self-destruction. Northwestern University has created nanostars, which deliver drugs to targeted cells with precision enabled by the star shape. There’s also the area of nanofibres, which can be used to close wounds, engineer tissue and anchor implants. These will all be rolling out as treatments in the next 10 years – if you can afford them, of course.