Is futurism over? We mock the fantastical visions of future utopias that defined science reporting in the “nuclear age.” We’ve developed a feel for the slow pace of real technological development,1 so it only makes sense that we’ve all but abandoned the “Kitchen Of The Future!” style showmanship.

What I didn’t realize is how jaded we’ve become to incredible breakthroughs in science and technology. William Gibson writes,

Say it’s midway through the final year of the first decade of the 21st Century. Say that, last week, two things happened: scientists in China announced successful quantum teleportation over a distance of ten miles, while other scientists, in Maryland, announced the creation of an artificial, self-replicating genome. In this particular version of the 21st Century, which happens to be the one you’re living in, neither of these stories attracted a very great deal of attention.

Think about that. I did it, too. I read these headlines on Slashdot and didn’t even read the summary, because apparently quantum teleportation and artificial life aren’t surprising enough.

I wonder if my kids will even understand the kind of dreams we used to pin on the future. Will their generation develop its own version of futurism? Maybe they won’t have to dream of a fantastic world, because they’ll be able to make it real.

  1. Alvin Toffler’s estimation of ten years from research to commercial technology seems to be shortening. The eInk technology used in ebook readers only took a few years to commercialize after the first research was reported.