Bits and pieces of the future

Like many of my colleagues, I am spending this week watching the Siggraph conference on-line, and participating actively in some parts of it. Experiencing this conference virtually has given me a new perspective on its value.

It is important to realize that Siggraph is not mainly a place where people show commercial products. Rather, it is a place where people show bits and pieces of the future.

So it is perfectly reasonable for researchers to show what one part of the future might look like, in anticipation of other parts that have not yet been invented. This creates an interesting sort of conversation.

Somebody today in 2020 is essentially starting a conversation with a person in the future. That conversation centers around some capability that the world may not see for years to come.

The conversation starts by saying “Hey, I’ve got one piece of this now. Can anybody in the future come up with the other pieces we will need?”

It takes a certain kind of faith to engage in conversation with future people. The ability to have that kind of faith in the future is part of what is beautiful about science.

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