What researchers really mean

Ha! So true, although in academia we aren’t so much concerned with getting products into consumers’ hands; so the exact times may be different:


  1. #1 Michael
    December 22, 2009

    Which of these categories do those miracle treatments using stem cells fall under?

  2. #2 TomB
    December 22, 2009

    And which category does AGW fall into?

  3. #3 D
    December 22, 2009

    I always figured that when someone said “we will have X in 10 years” that 10 years meant indefinite future. See, AIDS vaccines, Stem Cells to cure anything, flying cars, etc.

  4. #4 lylebot
    December 22, 2009

    “Strong AI” (a phrase I hate) definitely falls into the “it has not been conclusively proven impossible” category. As it happens, 20-25 years is the usual estimate AI researchers give journalists.

    Knowing xkcd, Randall Munroe probably noticed that too.

  5. #5 Michael
    December 22, 2009

    TomB, AGW isn’t a technology.

  6. #6 MaikUniversum
    December 22, 2009

    AGW is already happening. In case someone didn’t know.

  7. #7 IBY
    December 22, 2009

    Regarding the last point, yeah, it seems like pure research without application is the area that really allows applications to be built.

  8. #8 llewelly
    December 23, 2009

    I love the history of forecasts about controlled fusion power. In the 60s physicists (notably Teller and Dyson) often claimed it was 20 years away. In the 70s it was 25 years away. In the 80s it was 30 years away. In the 90s it was 40 years away. Last I heard (2005 or so), it was 50 years away. Perhaps we should stop funding research into controlled fusion power before it gets any further away.

  9. #9 Andrew Dodds
    December 23, 2009

    As far as controlled fusion goes.. given the pathetic amount of funding compared to the potential benefits it’s not surprising.

    Mind you, breeder reactors in various forms – which are a technology capable of stopping AGW with minimal end-user impact – have been around for decades without actually getting used.

  10. #10 Danimal
    December 23, 2009

    minor quibble: When posting an XKCD comic, you should also post the “alt” tag he supplies, as that often contains more silliness.

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