Cairo, Egypt—As a child of the 1980s, I grew up watching science fiction television shows and movies—all set in the “not-so-distant future.” Holographic communication, teleportation, and flying cars were central tenets of that universe. And while I marveled at the prospect of these technologies, I was most fascinated by the “magical technological device”—that could be used to complete any task, from basic communication to dissemination of news to national security. Though I later learned that this device was nothing more than a plot twist used to advance these stories, I gained something quite special from this twist—a belief in the promise of the future.

Not surprisingly, when the 21st century arrived, I was among those severely disappointed. Terrorism and conflict, a weak economy, and a compromised environment littered the landscape. Worse yet, there were no flying cars. We still couldn’t teleport—the...

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