Printed: 2020-07-15

Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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Are You Amazed Yet?

Mike Treder

Ethical Technology

December 29, 2009

Have the last ten years filled you with awe at the pace of scientific discovery? Or are you more, like, meh…

In a few days, it will be 2010—the start of the second decade of the new millennium.

By 2010, according to the fictional reckoning of Arthur C. Clarke, humans were supposed to be capable of conducting crewed missions to Jupiter. In reality, we’re not even close to that.


To put it another way, we are now further removed in years from the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey than that movie was from the classic silent film Metropolis.


So, where are the space colonies? The starships? The sentient computers? For that matter, where are the aliens that we should have discovered by now?

An article by Paul Milo in the Boston Globe ponders the same issues:

With just days left in the year, you might be trying out a few cool things you expect to use in 2010—an e-reader, a talking GPS system, mittens wired to run your iPod. But it’s a fair bet that there are some things you won’t have.

You won’t have an electric butler to rouse you on New Year’s Day. You won’t climb into your flying car that morning. You won’t be chowing down on your food pill for a recuperative breakfast. It’s likely to be chilly—miserable, even—thanks to the lack of a climate-controlled geodesic dome over your town. And while you may be planning a Vermont ski trip for February, you’re not going to be jetting to a Malaysian beach for the day, or relaxing at an orbiting space hotel.

If you had told this to an audience in 1930, or even 1970, they would have been shocked. Decades ago, it was virtually taken for granted that average people would regularly be traveling to space, robots would be doing all the household chores, and our steaks would be in capsule form. Even the most pessimistic folks would have guessed that by now we would be able to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo in two hours.

On the other hand, we do have a lot of really cool stuff, like pocket phones that can hold a thousand books. But is it enough? Is 2010 all you expected it to be a few decades ago? Are you amazed yet?

Our current IEET reader poll asks how impressed you are with the scientific discoveries and technological accomplishments of the last ten years. Are you disappointed? Looking back, did you expect more? Or, conversely, are you blown away with the fast pace and dizzying achievements? Maybe somewhere in between?

Let us know what you think.

Mike Treder is a former Managing Director of the IEET.


Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
IEET, 35 Harbor Point Blvd, #404, Boston, MA 02125-3242 USA
phone: 860-428-1837