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The Top 10 Things Hollywood Thinks Computers Can Do

We've been watching movies and TV long enough to know that when a computer's involved, it's a magic box that can do whatever the story requires it to. Even if it bears no resemblance to reality.


Most of this list, compiled by some expert wonks in the UK, is made up of perfectly valid examples of how computers and their usage is sexed up by Hollywood — especially the whole exploding CPU business — but the biggest offender is the old "zoom and enhance" chestnut. Not only has it been going on for decades, but it usually bears a direct impact on the plot. As such, it's one of the laziest tools at a writer's disposal. "How to we connect the dots for the detective hero? Zoom and enhance!"

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Oh, they included clips from my favorite episode of CSI! They take a scanned 3x5 photo (SCANNED, it's not digital to begin with) and then spend most of the ep trying to get a fingerprint off the peach blur in the corner that is the photographer's finger in front of the lens.

THEN, when that doesn't work, they get a reflection off the subjects eye instead, and manage to figure out that it's a porthole on a boat.

Oh man, it makes me laugh every time.

Dear CSI: pixels are pixels are pixels. You have the resolution you have. That's it, no more, no less. At least the people spouting stuff about algorithms are a little more on top of it because it's implying they're just extrapolating information that isn't there and trying to pretend it is, though that's NEVER clear in the show.

You can't zoom in more, even on digital footage, and suddenly have more pixels. The image was captured at a resolution, the only way to zoom and actually get more information is with a proper lens, which happens when you're taking the image, not after.

Macguyver, however, gets a pass on any of this. If anybody could invent more pixels out of thin air (or with a paperclip and an orange peel) it's Macguyver.