Science Fiction author Neal Stephenson has inspired the creation of a new project, dubbed Hieroglyph, which aims to promote discussion about big ideas humanity will actually build.
The group is a response to Stephenson’s essay Innovation Starvation in which he bemoans the world’s “inability as a society to execute on the big stuff” like moon landings. Instead, the essay says, the nature of modern society mean big projects become impossible to execute thanks to a combination of inertia, politics and vested interests. The combined effects of those forces, he writes, mean that in Stephenson’s home city of Seattle “ … a 35-year-old plan to run a light rail line across Lake Washington is now being blocked by a citizen initiative. Thwarted or endlessly delayed in its efforts to build things, the city plods ahead with a project to paint bicycle lanes on the pavement of thoroughfares.”