A techno historian at the U. of Illinois has contracted with the City of Chicago to take all the old photos and drawings of the city and to make a program that will allow random viewing of the city at points in time. It is a great success, so there is an add-on contract to make the photos show in sequence so the viewer can see the city grow from its infancy (just a few wood trapper buildings along the Chicago River) right up to the present tall building downtown. It also shows aerial views of growth out to the sprawling suburbs.
The historian is approached by a private concern to use their more sophisticated and remote accessed, software, data base, and super computers to upgrade the original program and add morphing so that the city now continuously grows. The viewer can see a dance of buildings springing up aging, being torn down, and replaced by newer buildings. Aerial real views show the sprawl growing like grass in time lapsed motion.
Then more data bases are offered and added which include the personal histories of people who shaped the city. His program now shows not only buildings growing and being torn down but people acting out their roles.
He can (ala "De Javu" Dansel Washington special effects) creates a four dimensional volume of Chicago. The viewer can pick his place and time and see the world unfolding. It can also zoom in time, showing a race of events up to a point in time and -- a race forward in time from an event up to the present.
The historian's 19 year old son, is an avid game designer/builder, and because of this is thought by his father to be a no good. Though they live together, they can hardly speak.
Looking over his father's shoulder, from a distance, the father's computer program is so attractive he has to see it up close for himself. He steels his father's passwords and with his much advanced programming skills starts playing with his dad's creation.
He adds a causal structure for why things happen. The resulting output looks like his dad's except it can now produce scenarios that move the present into the future. The scenarios depend not only on the state of the present, but the behaviors of the millions of people who presently shape the future of Chicago.
Since the son is the programmer of this simulation he is also in control of these billions of choices. He can choose if these people choose about the same basic behaviors they do today. Or he can have them choose radically different behavior. For example, they can be made to choose very green and very socially just behaviors.
After running a range of alternative behaviors he finds they all produce a future Chicago that looks as gloomy as John Carpenter's " Escape from New York."
The son treats the future of Chicago as he would any "player against the simulated world" computer game. He, at first enjoys the challenge of finding ways to survive personally in this gloomy landscape. But he then realizes that this database is not fantasy. It's real. None of his alternative choices (e.g. a walled portion of the city just for himself) produces conditions he likes.
He becomes quite despondent. He shows his girlfriend his work, and what he has learned about the bleak prospects for the city.
The girl friend works at SKIL as an analyst and knows everything we know.
She explains this all to him and he tries her proposal in his program. Chicago's future, for the first time, turns green and nice. (strings up bring on the brass and kettle drums.)
The story then takes a dark turn. The father's funding agency has been secretly monitoring the program's activities. The son's gloomy predictions of Chicago's future (not his bright alternative future) threaten the profitability of their business.
They decide to bury the findings by killing the reclusive father and erasing the programs that give his computer access to the remote database and super computer.
Since they don't know it is the son who added the features and ran the simulation he is not in the line of fire. However he is cut off from the super computer. He has nothing to show. Without access to the remote site, the ideas have the weight of fantasy.
However, he, his girlfriend, and the movie goer are left with their memories intact of what it takes to avoid a future no one else has seen.
Which is the movie's title, "The future no one else has seen." or "Unseen future."
12/15/07 (revised 3/1016)