Where is the Future?

Wondering what happened to the future, as it seems to have disappeared.

Back in the late 1990s, the internet was the future. Middle-class households were starting to get computers, get online, the dot-coms were booming, and the future was a bright light we were following.

Then came the bust, Web 2.0, the rise of smartphones and an upheaval in journalism, the rise of Facebook, and all that. We got a bit turned around, and surrounded by blinking lights, we cannot tell which way to the future. We do not have the old, strong voices of media to help guide us. They are as confused as we. The juggernauts of the new technology like Google stopped pointing a way forward, became too focused on their own limited vision for their own business. The old guard of IBM and AT&T and the like? Bah, they can barely chart their own future. The old AT&T commercial’s refrain that “You will…” is long gone. Microsoft no longer asks “Where do you want to go today?” Apple Computer just wants to sell you the next slightly-updated iPhone, or maybe a wristwatch.

Sure, maybe autocars will come down the turnpike at some point, but by that point will we even care? Is the future anywhere anymore?

Part of the reason that Elon Musk and Bitcoin get attention (besides money) is their ability to sell a future. Once upon a time, an unknown “It” was touted by advertising from Amazon-dot-com, and it turned out to be a self-balancing two-wheel scooter that didn’t revolutionize anything. But hyperloops, Martian fever-dreams, telescope-blinding satellite constellations, and anonymous climate-destroying cryptocurrency? Sounds future!

There’s still a strong expectation that there will be a future, and we want to know about it. But lately the strong visions of future have evaporated along with the reservoirs out west. We can’t find it! It was here somewhere! Who had it last?!

It’s been awhile since I heard any buzz about Graphene, for example. What the heck, Graphene! You were supposed to make everything…more… grapheney?

And before you say it, pandemics don’t count, and neither do supervillain-rich folks skimming the edge of space! Sure, they were both predicted to be part of the future, but that was supposed to be along with the good things, too. We were supposed to have candybars that gave us an hour of superpowers or dogs that could beat us at chess, weren’t we?! Reanimated dinosaurs that breach containment? Aliens, laser guns, meals in pill form? Something? It was all so hazy back before it arrived—the future—and now that it’s here, I think it’s broken.

Some ideas to reconstitute the future include greater investment in basic research, even more blinking lights, and reducing carbon pollution so that the future can exist.

Others include:

New physical non-volatile media formats

We should have some kind of weirdly-shaped storage. Make it 3D, like marbles or little Rubik’s cubes. It should be rewritable and high-density.

Committee for Development of Youth Slang

Let’s face it, kids of today aren’t coming up with cool new words enough. Cheugy is itself cheugy AF. Come on, kids, you’re not even trying! All cool futures have lots of weird words, like in A Clockwork Orange or 1984. It’s the duty of youth to make them up.

Non-fashion clothing improvements

Fashion constantly invents new looks that never last. Instead, the average person’s wardrobe needs some updates. Better hats, pants that fit, new fabrics, something.

Music that I Hate

The music of today doesn’t make me want to scream. I don’t listen to much of it, but it’s mostly okay. That’s a big red flag. Adults are supposed to inherently grate at modern music. Not future enough!



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