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:

More like this

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

And which category does AGW fall into?

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.

"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.

TomB, AGW isn't a technology.

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

By MaikUniversum (not verified) on 22 Dec 2009 #permalink

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

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.

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.

By Andrew Dodds (not verified) on 23 Dec 2009 #permalink

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