Some radical thoughts about the future from people who actually might know what they're talking about: I have always been fascinated by the smart, smart people who live from the center to the edge of the cyberthinker world. Because I was present in LA for much of the early conference/thinker gatherings when they weren't so exclusive and you could get a press pass if you knew your way around reporter vocabulary, I met many of them -- often humbling but exhilarating experiences.
Over the years one of their most resourceful thinkers, John Brockman, has built a foundation called The Edge, where thinkers gather to "ask each other the questions they are asking themselves." The annual question founder Brockman has asked this community of thinkers (albeit more than 6 times more men than women) is "What Are Your Optimistic About? Why?" It's worth a look. Some of those I know the most about, and respect, whose ideas might intrigue, include Whole Earth Catalogue publisher Stuart Brand, Microsoft pioneers Linda Stone and Nathan Myhrvold , Jaron Lanier, the man who named "virtual reality, Howard Gardner, the Harvard professor who has had such an impact on how we see learning differences and help the kids who have them, and one of the earliest Web thinkers, Esther Dyson.
Take a look; you might actually find a route to some optimism yourself! I was surprised by how much "good news" these people deliver. If we can just get some political leadership to follow up on it we'll be better able to leverage these possibilities but either way, it's nice to get some good news once in a while. Happy New Year.