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White House Goes 'Back to the Future'

The White House is getting into the spirit of Back to the Future day – Oct. 21, 2015, was the then day in the future Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to in the iconic film series – by going online to discuss what the technology of 2045 will look like.

The agenda began with a Google+ Hangout conversation on time travel with various academics, followed by a couple of Twitter conversations on autonomous vehicles and the future of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), featuring chief technology officer Megan Smith, among others, and ending with a 1 p.m. Google+ Hangout on the brain.

Explaining why the White House was paying attention to the anniversary of a science fiction movie, Office of Science and Technology Policy deputy director for technology and innovation Tom Kalil said there was a good reason. "If you look at the history of technological and scientific development, a lot of times scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are inspired by the science fiction books they read and science fiction movies and TV shows they watch."

He cited engineers at Motorola inspired by the communicators in Star Trek and work being done on technology inspired by the Star Trek replicator.

The White House even included a letter on its website from Michael J. Fox (McFly) plugging the White House "Back to the Future Day" online lineup as well as talking about advances in Parkinson's – he has the disease and his helping in that effort through the Michael J. Fox Foundation. "Call me an optimist, but I believe that by 2045 we’ll find the cures we seek – especially because of all the smart, passionate people working to make it happen," he wrote.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.