Well, all that fine theoretical talk about omnipotent assemblers performing miracles of creation (complete control over the structure of matter), the talk about people putting themselves in computers and then installing those computers in bush robots (in justfifty years), all that talk was well and good -- except that a skeptical type might be permitted a brief moment of wondering what had been accomplished so far.
What progress had been made? How much of those grandiose plans had actually been achieved? There had to be some anchor for this in the real world, otherwise all that top-notch hubristic adventuring, as admirable as it might have been in its own right, all of it could be dismissed as . . . mere theory.
The fact was that the required Show 'n' Tell for the hubristic intellectual voyagers actually took place. It began on Monday morning, September 21, 1987 -- that's when it started, the world's first conference on artificial life. How fitting it was, too, that the conference was held at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a place that, for obvious historical reasons, was pretty much given over to results. You could talk all you wanted, at the lab, about what type of explosive might be best suited for this or that sort of bomb, but then you had to go out to the canyon, or to the proving