Despite the 20th century’s overabundance of violent conflict, radical cultural shifts and political upheaval worldwide—which, at one point, had humanity teetering on the edge of nuclear annihilation—there was always a collective fascination with the future. Generation after generation, artists imagined how life might look decades or even centuries ahead. “Buck Rogers” depicted heroic space battles 40 years before the moon landings, “Star Trek” showed humanity united across galaxies at the height of the Civil Rights movement, and when I was a teenager, “Back to the Future Part II” promised we’d have flying cars and hoverboards by 2015.
Some of these futuristic stories were dark and dystopic, but even those usually ended on a note of stubborn optimism for the world to come. In recent years, though, it seems like that optimism has gone increasingly out of favor. TV shows and movies imagining a utopian future are few and far between, replaced by grim visions of totalitarian governments, like “The Hunger Games,” or high-tech nightmares inspired by our fears of technology gone too far, like “Black Mirror.” The pessimism on screen often reflects a widespread sense of unease and uncertainty toward the decades ahead and even a lack of faith in humanity to overcome its most pressing challenges. It’s enough to ask: Is the future just not what it used to be?
At the Texas A&M Foundation, our explicit mission is to build a brighter future for Texas A&M University, one relationship at a time. We do this because we believe a brighter future for this university precipitates real hope for the state, nation and world as a top-tier institution for higher education and research. A combination of public support, impactful philanthropy, and passionate students, faculty and staff has made Aggieland an epicenter for innovation across almost every field and industry. If there’s a problem endangering our future or a discovery that will enhance it, you can bet that someone at Texas A&M is already working on it.