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We Need More Elon Musk Types

Accepted submission by quietus at 2024-05-11 19:03:02 from the But-Could-We-Handle-It dept.

As early as 1900, civil engineer John Elfreth Watkins predicted that by 2000 we would have such now-commonplace innovations as color photography, wireless telephones, and home televisions (and even TV dinners), among other things. Personally, I'm not really impressed -- my great-great-grandfather predicted we'd all eat meat from factories by now, and use the cows for transport instead -- and he wasn't even an engineer.

But anyway. Based on that little factoid, a bunch of engineers has started ERVA, the Engineering Research Visionary Alliance [].

In a guest article on IEEE Spectrum [], they claim that engineering these days means tinkering a bit on the edges. That's wrong. What we need -- dammit -- are bold visions of how to rebuild about everything. Engineers today need a different attitude: the mindset of the futurist.

Futuristic thinking pushes the boundaries of what we can currently imagine and conceive. In an era of systemic crises, there is a seemingly paradoxical but accurate truth: It has become impractical to think too pragmatically. It is especially counterintuitive to engineers, as we are biased toward observable, systematic thinking. But it is a limitation we have overcome through visionary exploits of the past—and one we must overcome now, when the world needs us.

So there you have it, young man -- the world needs you to solve its problems: and they have an open call for proposals []. Go for it!

Original Submission