The Future is Now

Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post looks at the promise of the future, and the tendency to dismiss the far-reaching changes brought about by science and technology until they can’t be ignored:

The future in general is something of a suspect topic . . . a little goofy. Right now we’re all focused on the next primary, the summer conventions, the Olympics and their political implications, the fall election. The political cycle enforces an emphasis on the immediate rather than the important.

He points out that even a venerable newspaper like the Washington Post didn’t initially give the Internet – arguably one of the greatest new tools in recent history – any prominent coverage early on:

The first use of the word “internet” to refer to a computer network seems to have appeared in this newspaper on Sept. 26, 1988, in the Financial section, on page F30 — about as deep into the paper as you can go without hitting the bedrock of the classified ads.

We need to keep our eyes open. The future is going to be here sooner than we think. It’ll surprise us. We’ll try to figure out why we missed so many clues. And we’ll go back and search the archives, and see that thing we should have noticed on page F30.