I mean, The Jetsons and Futurama are one thing, but in near-future portrayals—those shown in goofball blockbusters like I, Robot and Minority Report—the world is given a glossy, high-tech makeover. These futuristic landscapes suggest we’re about to see a bevy of unfathomably large infrastructure investments that will reshape our cities in the next couple decades.
Now take a look outside at your nearest bombed-out road or crumbling bridge. Yeah, your metropolis isn’t going to be turning into Emerald City any time soon.
What’s actually going to happen is already happening now: The future will appear, not in leaps and bounds, but on a moving sidewalk, gliding onward just smoothly enough that it doesn’t shake you into recognition. It’s still going to take decades for California to complete its futuristic high-speed rail line, for example; when it arrives, it’s still going to look like a train.